Kevin Rudolf let it rock all the way to Billboard's Top 10 last year with his quadruple-platinum selling debut single, "Let It Rock." Part of that track's mashup magic was it's mix of Rudolf's rock with the hip-hop cameo by none other than the singer's mentor, Lil Wayne.
Just because the rap superstar is doing time on Rikers Island on gun charges, though, doesn't mean Rudolf is just sitting back waiting for his bud to get out. He's releasing his sophomore disc, To The Sky, on June 15, and he once again brought in Weezy to add his shine, on the first single "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)." UsMagazine.com caught up with Rudolf just last week and got an update on his new tunes and Wayne's prison report card.
UsMagazine.com: I just wanted to talk to you about your new album. How is this one different than your first?
Kevin Rudolf: I was in a very different place in my life when I made that first album. I think this new album really represents unlimited thinking and dreams and the celebration of getting to do what I do for a living, which is something that not a lot of people get to do.
Us: What influenced you growing up?
KR: Music in my house and my mom listening to all those records -- Pat Benatar, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper -- the female singers she was listening to at the time kind of got into me. I definitely developed a love for those big records and big hooks and that kind of music from her.
Us: Did you have any other musicians that you looked up to when you were younger, or even now?
KR: I went through a lot of stages, a lot of phases. I went through a phase where I was, as a young kid, only into guitars and into guitar players and I loved Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen. Then I jumped head-first into a phase where I was only making beats and owning the hip-hop world and was a huge fan of Timbaland, The Neptunes and Dr. Dre. All those phases are a part of what make me up now. So now I can play in all those fields and work with Lifehouse or Leona Lewis or Lil Wayne in an authentic way because I've sort of done time in all of those styles.
Us: How did working with Lil Wayne in particular so closely inform your rock sound?
KR: I'm not a straight rock artist, pop artist, or hip-hop artist. I'm really a fusion of all those things. So to me, [the collaboration] is just natural. It's friends collaborating with friends really. I think people who like hip-hop and are fans of Wayne are going to listen to certain records that they're on, so it broadens my audience and maybe my fans will be more interested in what they're doing and we all kind of share fans.
Us: Have you talked to him since he has been in prison?
KR: I haven't, but I have talked to people who have talked to him every day and they say he's doing really well and feeling good, he's adjusted. I'm sure he'll come out stronger than ever.
Us: Who else are you working with now?
KR: I've recently worked with Weezer, Natasha Bedingfield and Jesse McCartney, and most recently I produced the new Selena Gomez single. As far as touring goes, we're doing mostly promo stuff and radio shows and we're going to do a run in Australia in July. I'm trying to balance everything!