Jason Derülo is a hit factory. Less than two years after he launched his solo career, the Miami-based singer/songwriter has already reeled off three multimillion-selling singles: "Whatcha Say," "In My Head" and "Ridin' Solo." But as he gears up for the Sept. 27 release of his sophomore album, "Future History," the Beluga Heights/Warner Bros. pop talent and his camp are determined to show that there's a lot more to this young artist than his three Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits.
"We just happened to have these massive singles out of the gate," says Derülo's manager, attorney Frank Harris. "The hits came so quick that no one got to know who Jason Derülo is. So this album is pivotally important, giving him a chance to connect more with people. This time out, the music is more diverse and more reflective of an eclectic artist who can make all types of records."
Derülo, who was writing songs for Sean "Diddy" Combs, Danity Kane, Sean Kingston and Lil Wayne when he was 16 years old, hit the ground running on his solo career in August 2009 with the release of the single "Whatcha Say." Derülo was 19 at the time and the song was a runaway hit, climbing to the top of the charts with 3.6 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"In My Head" followed in December and peaked at No. 5, setting up Derülo's self-titled debut, which arrived the following March. The set debuted and peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and spawned another hit single, "Ridin' Solo," which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped generate a total of 9.6 million in singles sales. In May, Derülo received the 2011 BMI songwriter of the year award. Now 22, he describes "Future History" as a project born of evolution.
"It's the bridge between where I've come from, where I see myself going and what my future holds," Derülo says of the new album, which was recorded at Los Angeles' Serenity Studio. "My growth as a singer and performer over the last three years has been amazing. But I think my growth as a man is the key to this album. There's more mature subject matter, more emotion, more edge."
Producers on the project include Beluga Heights founder J.R. Rotem, as well as Frank E, The-Dream, the Fliptones and Eman. Derülo penned several of the set's 12 tracks on his own, and collaborated with the-Dream, Kara DioGuardi and Claude Kelly on others. On "Future History," Derülo once again mashes up pop, rock, electronic and R&B, but he says the overall feel offers "a little more urban flavor this time around."
The collection's second single, "It Girl," about the ideal woman, is climbing the Hot 100; it's No. 30 this week with 246,000 in sales, according to SoundScan. Lead single "Don't Wanna Go Home" peaked at No. 14 with 992,000 in sales.
"The music this time is more diverse and more reflective of an eclectic artist who can make all types of records," says Harris, who has been managing Derülo since the singer was 13. "Although Jason had predominantly made R&B records when he was younger, we didn't want to limit what he did musically. We wanted a global perspective. And to get on a world stage, we decided it would be through pop records. The first meeting I had when he signed to Warner Bros. was with the label's head of international. Since then, Jason has gone platinum in Australia and the U.K.; now the idea is to catch up to that in America."
Accordingly, Warner's marketing strategy is focused on raising and building Derülo's national profile through TV (including "Good Morning America"), social media and a series of fan-focused projects, including a Sept. 27 concert in tandem with Jet Blue at New York's JFK terminal billed as "Live From Terminal Five." Contest winners from 25 markets will be flown in, with local radio partner WHTZ busing in winners. Also during street week: a flash mob in Manhattan with the New York Knicks in front of the Fuse marquee and a live-streamed performance on MTV.com from the Gramercy Hotel, both on Sept. 28. Prior to that, Derülo jetted to Europe for a series of TV appearances (he'll later co-host the MOBO Awards on Oct. 5) and promotional stops to coincide with the album's Sept. 19 release there.