Photo Credit: Aaron Pegg (UndergroundNYC)
If the name Rotimi doesn’t quite ring a bell yet, it’s okay, because the actor, singer-songwriter and model has a face that is surely familiar. He’s been seen on stage with T.I. and August Alsina; in films like the 2014 blockbuster, Divergent; and on the small screen in critically-acclaimed television series like Boss and most notably, Power. Executive produced by 50 Cent, the Starz hit has catapulted the New Jersey native to a new level of visibility and has helped him to successfully present himself as a triple threat.
With the forthcoming August 4th release of his latest EP, Jeep Music Vol. 1, the G-Unit signee aims to prove that for him being an artist is deeper than just music. “Jeep Music is not just a project,” states Rotimi. “It’s a me.” Inspired by an eight-year relationship that recently concluded, the project also finds the son of Nigerian parents tapping into his cultural roots. The EP’s most recent single, “Want More” features Dancehall star, Kranium, as well as afrobeat and reggae influences.
Here, Rotimi talks to REVOLT about Jeep Music Vol. 1, touring with August Alsina and having 50 Cent as a boss.
You’re currently on August Alsina’s Don't Matter tour, which just started. How has it been so far?
Rotimi: It’s been amazing, because every night I’m making new fans and it’s creating awareness for what I do. Seeing the fans, the support and the love has been amazing. It’s a good way to connect and for people to see what I really do as an artist.
Why did you decide on Jeep Music Vol. 1 for the title of your latest EP?
Rotimi: It’s the story of my ex-girlfriend from when I was living in New Jersey. I kind of wanted people to hear about it in a melodic way. She always had this white jeep - and all through it our time together and dealing with that jeep - it just kind of became a metaphor for me conquering that relationship. It lasted from age 19 to almost a year-and-a-half ago. We grew together and I wanted people to see and hear that story.
Was it difficult opening up like that?
Rotimi: No. I feel like people respect authenticity and for me it’s kind of like closure. Talking about it brought me closure. This tour has been helping me with getting over it and getting through it.
How did your ex react when she found out that she inspired Jeep Music Vol. 1?
Rotimi: I told her yesterday [laughs]. She was just like “Oh, okay, if that’s how you feel”. But she was a trooper about it.
Will there be more volumes of Jeep Music?
Rotimi: Oh yeah, definitely. We’re going to start working on Vol. 2 soon.
Other than the story of your relationship, what can listeners expect from Jeep Music?
Rotimi: I think listeners will be able to understand me better. We’re getting to the point where musically you learn so much about the up and downs of what I went through. I’m also having my culture involved with it with my new single “Want More”, which features Kranium. It’s giving people a mixture of a lot of different things. Other than that they are going to get good music and everything is going to flow naturally.
Speaking of “Want More”, why did you choose it as one of the first releases from Jeep Music?
Rotimi: It just feels so good as a summer record. It is one of my favorite records and partnering with Kranium to bring this record out has been helpful. I feel like the way music is now, having a type of afrobeat record like that and being that I’m from Nigeria - it just made perfect sense.
Do you find it necessary to make a clear separation between Rotimi the artist and Rotimi the actor?
Rotimi: Yeah, I have to. It’s one of those things where people have to see the clear difference. I’ve been able to do that with this tour. I’ve been able to do it with the records. I’ve been able to do it with social media. Power is making awareness of who Rotimi is and people are now just discovering what I do. It’s a perfect time for all of it.
What’s one key to being able to successfully juggle two careers?
Rotimi: I think you just have to work hard and be consistent. There’s no rest really. There’s no sleep really. It’s one of those things where you have to be a monster with it. Just know that there is no half-assing anything. You can’t let people tell you “no”. You just have to keep moving and working.
Has playing Dre on Power had any impact on your music?
Rotimi: Again, it just creates awareness. This week so many people have a feeling towards Dre [laughs]. People are going to my pages an obviously they’ll say things about Dre, but then they’ll discover my music. It’s like “Oh snap, he’s a musician. This is dope. I actually love your song.” So it’s cool. It’s drawing attention to the fact that I really do music. Now I just have to capitalize on this moment.
Is there a difference between 50 Cent as your boss on Power and him as your boss on G-Unit?
Rotimi: 50 is the same. With him, it’s all about just working hard and improving yourself. He doesn’t give handouts, so with him it’s just do your job and work hard, because anything you want you can have. It’s a blessing to work with him.
What’s one thing to anticipate in the coming episodes of Power?
Rotimi: It gets crazy, man. Expect the unexpected [laughs].