Long live rock!
For too long we’ve had to suffer limp-wristed approximations of what to do with a guitar. Just grip it firm, hold your plectrum and let rip - sending amplified waves of electricity squealing through a stadium full of people.
Bringing back a sense of dramatic honesty to rock music is one Kevin Rudolf. Born and brought up in New York, and now based in Miami, he is fluent in the twin languages of rock and rap, with music flowing from him as naturally as tying laces in the morning.
Rudolf’s debut single, the Lil Wayne-featuring ‘Let It Rock’, was a titanic smash stateside, and broke the UK top ten earlier this month. With his first album ‘In The City’ in stores now via Cash Money/Universal, Clash caught up with Rudolf to find out more…
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What is your first musical memory?
Listening to ‘Jump’ by Van Halen in the apartment I grew up in. My mom put it on and I was jumping around the living room.
How did you get introduced to the Cash Money stable?
I was down in Miami working on records with Timbaland, playing guitar, and I met Slim and Baby from Cash Money. I played them a couple of records I produced and wrote and they liked them for one of their artists. Then I played them my solo stuff and they flipped out over this song called ‘Coffee and Donuts’. We built from there, and a few months later Lil Wayne got on ‘Let It Rock’ and they signed me, and the rest is history.
You’ve previously worked with and written for artists including Nelly Furtado, Timbaland, LL Cool J and more. Why wait so long before branching out on your own?
I didn't wait. I was always making my own music. It just took time for it to all come together. Nothing happens overnight. Most people don't know half the story behind successful artists.
Your debut single 'Let It Rock' was a massive hit, reaching number five on the Billboard chart. How do you react to success on this scale?
It’s very exciting to make a song in your bedroom and then watch the whole world sing it back to you. I went through lots of ups and downs and I thought my dream was dead. I learned though that if you keep doing it and hang in there long enough, you will get your turn.
Lil Wayne features on this track, how did that collaboration come about?
Wayne is Cash Money and I'm Cash Money. I asked Slim if we could make it happen and he did. Now I'm producing more songs for Wayne's next album. I'm very lucky to have him be a part of this. Most people don't know this but ‘Let It Rock’ is the biggest song Wayne has ever been on next to ‘Lollipop’, and I'm proud of that because I produced it.
‘Let It Rock’ is all about authenticity. As you become more and more successful, how do you keep in touch with your roots?
I never lose touch. I'm tough and have good instincts from growing up in New York City. I know who I am and I surround myself with my friends and people who were with me in the beginning.
You've clear rock roots, yet are also obviously fond of hip-hop. The two genres often don't mix easily - what do you think of people who say you can't mix the two?
I'm not much of a fan of rap/rock at all. But to make rock music now without realising the influence hip-hop has had in music is not authentic either. If I tried to be the next Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin it would be completely derivative and fake, so I stick to what I know.
Some in the press have given you a frosty reception. How do you respond to negative criticism?
I smile and nod.
You produced the 'In The City' album yourself – how clear were you regarding the direction you wanted to go in? Would you ever let someone take control in the studio?
I just create music and then I see where it goes. If it fits for my album, great. If not, then I give it to someone else. I am always down to collaborate in the studio, but I never give up control.
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