Rotimi Talks ‘Jeep Music, Vol. 1,’ ‘Power’… And Spin Class
If your eyes have been glued to the Starz hit series Power, executive-produced by rap mogul 50 Cent (currently on Season 4), chances are you recognize Rotimi, a.k.a. street-savvy hustler, Dre. In real-life, the Nigerian-born, New Jersey-bred actor typically switches up his day job as he also sings and models.
Earlier this month, the R&B crooner dropped his eight-track set, Jeep Music, Vol. 1, inspired by a long-term relationship with his college sweetheart, who drove a white Jeep. While the two have parted ways, Rotimi soundtracks every phase of the relationship. Take songs like “What We Do,” a slow-burning deep cut that tackles the vicious cycle of making up and breaking up, or the grown and sexy getaway joint “Baecation.”
Away from the studio, though, Rotimi partakes in some calisthenics and spinning, which social media recently caught when the Power star was spotted gyrating on a bike to the sexy sounds of Ro James’ “Permission.” Below, he delves into his latest project and current stance on relationships, plus shares his go-to spin class jams.
What’s the significance of the Jeep?
It’s not really a project; it’s my story in terms of my relationship that I just got out of. I was with her since I was 19 when I was in college and we really didn’t have anything. Soon as I graduated from college, I booked my first audition as an actor with this show called Boss while we was still together. She was with me up until I started Power so [we went through] about four, five years of ups and downs, and me just being a new celebrity. It was just headaches, disrespect, amazing times, cheating, and she’s known to have a white Jeep in Jersey so it was kind of a metaphor of conquering that relationship. Jeep Music was me letting it all out, explaining what that relationship was.
Was there a song on the project that was a little close to home?
There’s a record called ‘What We Do’ ‘cause it was super personal and me just being vulnerable. Even ‘Living Foul,’ too, and how it felt to be kinda cheated on. A lot of men don’t really write records about stuff like that.
What have you learned about relationships over the course of transitioning from serious relationship to living single?
I think I just learned being honest and selfless is very important. I think transparency is the most important thing that I’ve learned since that relationship.
How does your creative process in music compare to acting?
I was able to work with my friends and some songwriters and producers on the music and we created this story. I told them exactly what it is that I went through and so we formulated this. For Power, I get a script and it’s whatever Courtney [Kemp Agboh, the showrunner and creator] or the writers want us to do and we add some type of flavor, but it’s less of me in Power and more of just my acting abilities. The music is all my story and I plan to keep it really transparent.
Do you think there’s a misconception about famous men being in relationships?
I have a lot of industry friends and a lot [of the misconceptions] could be true, depending on the person. If you allow the industry to consume you, you start making superficial and selfish decisions, but I think it’s half and half because there’s a couple of really good guys out there who are faithful. I can only imagine how hard it is for a woman to see who is a good guy and who isn’t in terms of relationships. Definitely a stigma about men in the industry, it’s just for us to prove those wrong.
Do you feel like you have to balance who you are in real life with the person in front of the cameras?
It’s cool that we dropped the project [Jeep Music, Vol. 1] the same time [as Power] ‘cause the character affects people one way and the music affects people the other way so they just confused. With Power being such a big juggernaut, it takes something undeniable to get your attention off of it. That’s why I made Jeep Music legit [tracks] one through eight, a project that you could not skip a song.
That’s why I took my time, because I’ve had to work so much harder to prove I really do this. It’s not no actor-turned-singer thing, like, this is legit what I’ve been doing my whole life and so I took my time. Besides, people are learning about who Rotimi is musically from a project you can’t say no to. I think that’s just helped me become known as an overall talent.
50 Cent knows you as both the actor and singer. What are words of advice he’s offered that helped you navigate the business?
Fif is one of those mega icons that from day one said, ‘Just keep doing it; just keep it real. They’ll feel it when it’s real. Take your time with it, but realize that this is your time. As long as you keep it thorough and the facts, then you’ll win.’ I remember him saying that even as an actor, too. You gotta keep it real and bring truth to whatever role you’re playing.
You were recently spotted flaunting your moves in a spin class. What was happening in that session?
That was my first one. [Laughs] It’s just me being me and I realized that the more I show my personality, the more people are gonna gravitate toward me. Naturally, I’m just a nasty n—a. I just like to have fun, enjoy myself and the camera just happened to be rolling, the right song came on and I felt like pedaling ‘cause I had a little flashback.
Your spin playlist ranges from Cameo to Jagged Edge. What is it about these songs that gets the adrenaline pumping?
You just zone out. Certain songs put you back into memories ,so you’re not even worried about pedaling or doing anything; you’re just jamming to the music. It’s just songs that I play during sex or parties so it’s different levels of experiences and speeds.
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