Rudolf Won't 'Hide Behind the Production' on New Album
You probably know him by his hit single, "Let It Rock," featuring Lil Wayne, but beyond that, Cash Money's first rock artist Kevin Rudolf ( @itskevinrudolf) has made a career of operating behind-the-scenes, producing for other artists like Cobra Starship, Selena Gomez, Lifehouse and the Cash Money roster. He's coming out with a new album this summer, however, and it's a diversion from what he's been doing for the past few years.
This record will be more about singer-songwriter and less about making club singles, Rudolf said. His first single, "Don't Give Up," recently premiered online and will be available on iTunes April 17. The track's video will hit Vevo on April 19, but we have an exclusive first look at the clip, filmed during the Occupy Wall Street protests, below.
Watch a preview of Kevin Rudolf's 'Don't Give Up' video:
"It's the first song I wrote for this album and I wrote it right when I moved back to New York from L.A.," Rudolf said of "Don't Give Up." "I was in L.A. doing a lot of writing and co-writing and production with other artists and I hadn't even worked on my own project for about a year. And I just picked up a guitar one day and this song completely came through me. And I didn't even feel like I wrote it."
After his 2008 debut single "Let It Rock" rose to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- selling 4.1 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- his first studio album, "In the City" peaked at No. 94 on the Billboard 200 (102,000 copies sold to date). His follow-up, 2010's "To the Sky," which has sold 20,000 copies, reached No. 78 on the Billboard 200, led by his No. 21-peaking single "I Made It," featuring Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne.
But his new album is going to be something different. "It's a really positive album," Rudolf explained. "I think it's gonna be probably less of the features, less club record -- less in that direction. I think the album will lean more towards something that's organic and more authentically me."
He added: "I just wanted to get back to more of the classic, singer-songwriter part of myself. I didn't want to hide behind the production anymore."
The currently-untitled project -- which Rudolf is considering calling "Everything Works Out in the End and If It Hasn't Worked Out Yet, It's Not the End" -- will be out mid-summer.
His label, Cash Money, is home to an array of today's top hip-hop artists, like Jay Sean, Drake, Nicki Minaj and, of course, Lil Wayne. And then there's Kevin Rudolf, a guitarist who is first and foremost a rock musician.
Cash Money founders and co-CEOs Ronald "Slim" Williams and Bryan "Baby" Williams (also known as Birdman) are supportive of Rudolf's new direction, telling the 29-year-old that "Don't Give Up" works because it represents who he is. "The thing about those guys is they just love real music," Rudolf said of the Williams brothers. "They're probably some of the few left in this game that just hear music as music and don't say, 'Where does this hit, what do we do with it how do we market it?'"
He continued: "They find artists that they believe in and they let them do what they do. And I think that's why they're so successful. And with me, they're just always so supportive of me doing my art. I feel like if I sold 10 million or nothing they'd still support me because they respect my art."
Having worked with dozens of artists, both on his own albums and producing for theirs, Rudolf cites Lifehouse as the best group to work with, because they didn't need him -- "It's always nice when you can come in and put a cherry on top," Rudolf explained. In the future, he hopes to continue producing on top of recording his own music, and it's his dream to work with U2.
A tour for Rudolf's new album is currently in the works, with both European and North American legs.