Since the success of his debut single, “Let It Rock” – Kevin Rudolf’s fame and fortune have risen to new heights. In addition to preparing his sophomore LP, Rudolf now finds himself in demand as a songwriter/producer – working with some of the biggest names in the business. But the Cash Money artist is grounded – and very cognizant of his success due not just to his talent, but the popularity of his hit song.
“Once you have one big hit, you can walk through a wall that you could not get through before,” explained Rudolf, who called “The Ralphie Radio Show” from his Los Angeles home. “And don’t think I haven’t used it, because it’s like, if I want to get in the room with somebody and work on their project, on their record, I go after it too.”
Rudolf helped out on Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad” and tells me that he’s currently working with Natasha Bedingfield and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. The singer/songwriter started his career as a studio guitarist for producer Timbaland, working on all of his tracks – whether it be for Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, or The Black Eyed Peas.
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“He’s a pioneer – which is the greatest compliment you can give,” remarked Rudolf on Timbaland. The two haven’t collaborated with each other since Rudolf worked for him in studio – although they’ll occasionally run in to each other at shows/functions and exchange greetings. “He’s got the entire package – he’s such a talented guy.”
Rudolf finds himself surrounded by more talent now that he is a part of Cash Money Records. The stable, which also calls Lil Wayne and Jay Sean their own, has seen its share of success over the years. Now, as the label’s top money maker heads to prison, Rudolf reveals that Wayne is rapping, recording, and shooting videos right up until March 2 – when he’ll be sentenced to a year behind bars in conjunction with a plea deal over a weapons possession charge that stems from 2007. Rudolf says a single from Tha Carter IV could be released to radio during or shortly after Weezy’s prison term – which could be shortened to eight months on good behavior.
Before then – Wayne dropped Rebirth – an album Rudolf contributed to and calls “really dope.” The “Lollipop” rapper also dropped a verse for the first single from Rudolf’s new LP – “I Made It.”
“Birdman, he said to me, ‘Yunno, why don’t you make a record that everyone on Cash Money can get on,’” Rudolf said. “I just kinda whipped up this beat in like 20 minutes and threw the hook on it and sent it out to everyone. When it came back to me, I was like, ‘This thing is crazy!’”
The final version features Weezy, Birdman, and Jay Sean. The video is out now. Rudolf confirmed on “The RRS” that he is shooting for a May release on the album, but has yet to think of a title.
Mann is a new artist signed to J.R. Rotem’s “Beluga Heights” record label, with a distribution deal through Mercury/IDJMG. His first single, “Text”, features Jason Derulo on the hook. Rotem checked in with “The RRS” to chat about the track.
There was a time in J.R. Rotem’s life, specifically December of 2006, when he fended off more paparazzi than producers. Over three years ago, Rotem worked in studio with Britney Spears, eventually producing the track “Everybody”, an iTunes/Japan bonus for her 2007 LP, Blackout.
But the photogs and gossip blogs were more interested with what the two did outside the studio. Pictures emerged of the couple cuddling, holding hands, and enjoying each other’s company. At the time, Rotem thought it was all meant to be. Looking back on the situation, the producer realizes it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and even holds a few regrets.
“It was kind of a stupid phase I was going through, where I wouldn’t say that I was being a bad person but I would say that I was being not very genuine to who I am and what it is that I’m supposed to do,” remarked Rotem on that period of his career. Spears did not come up by name once in the final of a four part exclusive interview on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” But, Rotem produced every other piece to the puzzle.
“When somebody acts like that, or at least for me, some of it stems from insecurity,” the producer revealed, as he began to open up about his true feelings on the situation – now three years later. “Finally when you get some success (in the music industry), and you get some visibility and some money and things like that, it was almost like, I was trying to prove to myself and maybe to others, ‘Hey, I’m here,’… and it’s kind of a phase that I went through that I’m not proud of.”
“I don’t think that I did anything irreparable or harmed anyone, but I think what I probably did do is just kind of make a jackass out of myself for a few months there,” he continued – without pause – as if he wanted to get this off his conscience for a minute.
Sans Justin, Rotem probably has the most practical outlook on his relationship with Spears than any of her other ex-beaus. But what makes the producer unique is that in addition to coming to terms with his mistakes and moving on – Rotem is able to help his stable of young artists on his Beluga Heights record label by sharing his experiences, both good and bad.
“These artists that we sign, they’re very, very young. They go from not having a lot of money to having a lot of money and traveling the world, and the things that come with that,” said Rotem. “It’s kind of hard, not to get somewhat tainted by that. I try to give them the guidance that I can. But in the end, I feel like a person really has to go through their own process… there’s only so much somebody else can tell you.”
While speaking on that last point, Rotem referred to his phase as the time in his life when he wore sunglasses indoors, and was concerned with driving fancy cars. Somebody could have told him to knock it off (and he received plenty of criticism for it on the Internet). But for Rotem, he needed to experience it first hand, so that he could learn and move on. For it, he’s a better person, a more focused producer, and certainly less quick to judge when he spots someone rocking a pair of Ray-Bans in the dark.
J.R. Rotem breathed a sign of relief when he found out that Janet Jackson cleared the use of a sample from her 1993 number one hit, “Again” for the latest single from Iyaz, “Solo.”
“Unfortunately that song leaked before we ever solidified anything,” said Rotem. “In a way it was amazing; people really seemed to be loving the record, but yunno on another way, it’s not like we officially had mixed it or mastered it or gone for sample clearance or anything like that.”
Although it may be unclear as to who actually posted the track on YouTube, this much is known: Iyaz himself, as well as Sean Kingston, “tweeted” out the link to their followers, thus beginning the buzz on the song. Jackson did not speak with Rotem directly, but did offer a compliment on the final piece, in addition to clearing the sample.
Sample clearance is not a given – and like “Solo” – sometimes a track is produced but not commercially distributed before the okay is handed down. Case in point: a track off of Jason Derulo’s self-titled debut, due out March 2, called “Ridin’ Solo.” The version on YouTube contains portions of The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” Rotem did not receive sample clearance from the band to use the track. Although disappointed, the song will still appear on the LP, with a different beat. It is not the first time the producer ran in to such an issue, and probably will not be the last.
“When you get creative, and you sample stuff, you don’t first get clearance,” explained Rotem. “There are certain cases, where people just aren’t interested… I actually can respect when they don’t want people to sample it… I can’t go in to it expecting that they are going to give me something that’s theirs.”
Rotem named Prince and The Rolling Stones in a list of different artists who are known not to offer sample clearance.
Sean Kingston is in the studio now, working on his third LP. But in an exclusive interview on “The Ralphie Radio Show” – producer J.R. Rotem reveals that he doesn’t know if he’ll be in the studio with Kingston this time around.
“I honestly don’t have any information on Sean in particular,” responded Rotem when I inquired about Kingston’s new project. “He’s still signed to Beluga Heights/Epic, but I haven’t worked with him in a while.”
The “Fire Burnin” singer confirmed on “The RRS” in November that he is working on new stuff, and even said at the time that he was working with Rotem – who originally discovered Kingston on MySpace. But since Kingston’s 2007 self-titled debut, it seems the chemistry between the producer and artist has faded.
“Truthfully, I don’t know if I’m gonna be, from a producer standpoint, working on the next album that he’s going to be doing,” said Rotem. “Me and Sean had a chemistry, a very strong chemistry on the first album. I ended up producing the entire album. On the second album, it was kind of a different vibe. I probably did about half that album. And I would say that at this point, he’s kind of doing his own thing on his third album.”
Rotem reiterated during our conversation that Kingston is still signed to his label, a dual venture with Epic, and that will not be changing in the immediate future.
It’s a cool sound effect – and J.R. Rotem created it, and places it on some of the songs he produces, simply as a way to promote himself.
“These days, as you know, people are buying physical CDs less,” said Rotem in the first of an exclusive four-part interview on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” They buy iTunes stuff; they listen to things on YouTube. The days of people looking at liner notes on albums is kind of a thing of the past.”
So the stuttering “J.R.” sound effect was born. Although it graces some of his work, Rotem doesn’t use it on everything – citing Leona Lewis’s “Better In Time” as one track he felt it didn’t fit with. Radio stations also feel this way about some of his songs, creating custom edits for use on-air without the signature. But Rotem is just fine with that.
“I don’t look at it as like a prerequisite, like you have to put that in there,” explained Rotem. “In the cases where they edit it out, that’s definitely something I understand and am cool with.”
Program directors of stations across the country have had many tracks gracing their desks and desktops with the “J.R.” audio signature – from Sean Kingston to Jason Derulo to Iyaz. As of late, Rotem and his Beluga Heights label have seen a great amount of success with the later two artists – as each have spawned a number one hit with “Whatcha Say” and “Replay” respecitively.