Guest Star: "My Relationship W/ Nicki Minaj Started W /Me Hearing Her & Being Blown Away"
Friday, Mar 25, 2011 4:10PM
[With Nicki Minaj hinting at her Pink Friday follow-up in the works, producer J.R. Rotem reveals what his in-studio sessions with the self-proclaimed "Barbie" are comprised of.]
I'm still working closely with Cash Money, Young Money. There's still things pending as far as songs from that camp over there. I've been focused on artists on my own label but I have also stayed in touch with Nicki Minaj, Cash Money and everybody else.
Working with Nicki Minaj has been one of the highlights of my career. I had heard about her pretty early on and immediately when I heard her rapping, I was like "Wow." This was when she was doing mostly remixes and those kinds of things. I remember thinking, "I don't know when's the last time I've been this impressed by an artist let alone a rapper."
My professional relationship with Nicki pretty much started with me hearing her and just being blown away. I didn't even know if she was already signed or what. I knew she was with Lil Wayne but I didn't know if she was signed. So my initial reaction was, "Yo, if she doesn't have a deal, I want to sign her." But unfortunately for us, it was already too late for that.
So the next best thing was to work with her in whatever capacity and I reached out to her at first when we were doing a remix to one of Jason Derulo's songs which was dope and then we sort of began corresponding. I would send her beats and it was really, really amazing. I was a fan and really inspired. It was a great blessing to work with her and to have two songs make it to her Pink Friday album.
As far as experience, Nicki takes her time. She gets in her zone when she's writing the verses and that kind of stuff. I would come to the studio and play a track. She would know right off the bat if she liked it or not, like "Dominoes" and "Fly." She basically took those beats, wrote her lyrics, took her time, and then she came to me and we discussed it. We decided we should get on it, got Rihanna on "Fly" and it sort of just became what it was. It was really, really dope.
To me, she's one of the most exciting new artists out there.
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.