The pop star's beau talks about Jackson and his new (clean-smelling) label

By Mark Dagostino
Updated April 10, 2008 10:15 AM
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Janet Jackson‘s boyfriend Jermaine Dupri – who announced Thursday that he’s heading up brand-new record label, TAG Records – tells PEOPLE that Jackson has fully recovered from the illness that forced her to cancel an appearance on Saturday Night Live last month.

“She’s 100-percent better now,” says Dupri. “She was really sick. She had bronchitis.” But the singer is back on track: “She’s in Japan right now. She’s better and doing all the promotion that she didn’t get to do because she was sick when the album launched.”

Dupri, 35, who is currently in the studio working on Usher’s new album, also shared the good news of his appointment at TAG Records, a new joint venture between Island Def Jam and TAG Deodorant Body Spray.

Say, what? “It’s a full-fledged record company,” Dupri explains. “I’m the president. And we’re mixing the best of both worlds together – the marketing of a product like TAG and the lifestyle that TAG represents, and then what the music and myself bring to the music industry.”

No Deodorant Rapping

That will not mean rappers rapping about deodorants, he says. Instead, Dupri says the record label will offer a marketing budget to whatever new artists he signs that far exceeds any other budget in the industry.

“There’s a lot going on in the world that makes it hard to do the old conventional record business,” he says. “You can’t get this type of marketing budget. There are endorsement deals, but not like this.”

Dupri says he already has his first artist lined up, and could release a single in as little as two weeks. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to work as a producer with Usher and Mariah Carey – and looking forward to reuniting with Jackson when she gets back from Japan. His new business, he says, “is the icing on the cake. I’m grinning from cheek-to-cheek.”

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