Guest Star: "I Can't Go Into A Room & Tell 50 Cent..."

Friday, Mar 18, 2011 10:50AM

Written by SOHH for J.R. Rotem

[With 50 Cent working vigorously on his follow-up to 2009's Before I Self Destruct, the rapper's "Position of Power" producer J.R. Rotem speaks on working in-studio with the G-Unt leader.]

When me and 50 Cent are in the studio, there's a certain method that I have. I was actually in the studio with him a few months ago so it starts with meeting him. And then 50 will play me some things he's working on so I kind of get a vibe and a sense of, "OK, where is he trying to go?"

Let's be honest, 50 Cent has had an incredible career, put out a bunch of albums, developed as an artist but now he's in a different place, a different place in his life. So with that being considered, I have to get a sense of where he's going. Is he inspired by a more soulful kind of sound? Should I consider getting a lot of soulful samples? Is it a little bit more electronic? Is it this? Is it that?

So that's the first thing. Then I have to go and figure out, "OK, so how do I give him 'my' version of what he wants musically?" That really just depends because it's got to be influenced by how he hears himself and where he sees himself going.

Honestly, I can contribute musically by saying I think the sound should be a certain way but it's more so about letting the music do the talking and hope that he connects with it. When I'm a producer producing on somebody else's project, an established artist, and obviously in this case a superstar, it's more like I'm just contributing to how they see themselves.

When I'm signing a brand new artist, I have a much more hands-on experience and way of dealing with their sound, so it's a little bit of a different thing. With 50 Cent, I can't go into a room and tell 50 Cent, "50, you're changing your sound, you're doing it this way." It's more about me trying to understand. "What message are you trying to come across?" And then I have to figure out how I can contribute, how can I take it a step further in my way.

So it's a little bit different because he's the one that's leading the process.

JR Rotem, real name Jonathan, was born in South Africa in 1975. His early training consisted of piano and classical music. After high school, JR attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he majored in piano performance. He became enthralled with Hip Hop after hearing Run DMC's album 'Raising Hell.' JR's break came when his music made it's way into the hands of Dwayne Wiggins who thought Rotem's sound was perfect for Destiny's Child. 'Fancy' and 'My Song' were then heard by Dr. Dre who demanded the music. What followed was over 100 album cuts for artists from 50 Cent to Rihanna to Jennifer Lopez.

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