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During Tag Records Survival Of The Freshest Tour Launch Party for new artist Q held at Rucker Park in Harlem, I meet Jermaine Dupri, Russell Simmons and Q on the tour bus decked out with white sofas, a laptop station, lighted mirrors and flat-screen TVs.

A fruit plate filled with strawberries, bananas, caneloupe, melon and pineapple beckons.  

I take a seat with Jermaine, Russell and Q.

Did Janet Jackson’s man ever dream he’d get this far?

“Me? Yes!” Jermaine exclaims. “When I was younger, I always had a person to follow, and that was this man right here. [Points to Russell] I watched what he was doing, and I figured if he could do it, I could do it. I ain’t never did it like him but I’m on my pace.”

Russell says, “It is maybe true that he saw me do something and maybe I inspired him, but then I sat back and watch him and he’s my inspiration. That’s how things have shifted.”

Jermaine continues, “As hip-hoppers and music people in general, we’ve always got people that we look up to and admire. That’s one thing that the young kids today – they pay attention to the wrong things. You’ve gotta find somebody who’s really out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It’ll help you get out and do what you want to do.”

What advice does Russell have for achieving greatness?

“Realize that it’s much easier operating from your strengths to quiet the inside as opposed to let all the noise control you,” he tells me.”

He continues, “You have to recognize that the only goal in life is to be comfortable in your seat. You’re only here for a second, and you’re here to be happy. When you understand that, it makes it easier to get through what people perceive as struggle. You go out there, they keep giving you more, and you keep giving back more. There’s nothing else you can do in life. There’s always more. That’s the human condition. Try to get past that as much as you can.”

“I learned that,” Russell says. “I used to wake up and think what I wanted to give, but in the back of my mind, I thought I was thinking what I wanted to get. I had to be giving in order to get. I must’ve got ahead by having a giving attitude. When you realize that’s the real path, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to get.”

One thing Russell is taking: Ten Tag body sprays, please. Jermaine gives back by autographing a shoe.

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