Just because a song has a beat and is danceable doesn't mean it's not deep. Take Kevin Rudolf's hit "Let It Rock" featuring Lil Wayne. The song was written when Rudolf was in a fair amount of pain, unsure of his place in the world. Now it's a triple-platinum club favorite.
"Emotional doesn't have to mean sitting there depressed with a piano, sulking," Rudolf says. In fact, Rudolf calls Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," written for Rocky III, an emotional song. "It can be things that hype you up and make you feel great and empower you. That's also emotional."
Rudolf is gearing up for his sophomore solo album, To the Sky, due out later this spring. The first single, "I Made It," featuring Birdman, Lil Wayne and Jay Sean, is making its way up the charts.
It took him a few months to name the album—no easy feat given the success of his first effort for Cash Money/Universal Republic, 2008's In the City.
"I couldn't settle on a name," Rudolf says. "I was in Canada getting ready to go onstage and I got this light feeling, and I just looked up to the sky. Everything I do 'to the sky.' It's powerful, but also limitless and spiritual. Dreams coming true, that's what its about."
Rudolf got his legs in the business working as a guitarist and producer with such acts as Timbaland, Lil' Kim, the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado.
Right before he wrote "Let It Rock," Rudolph was down on his luck financially and ready to hand in his music dreams and escape.
"Every time I heard that you could go live in Thailand for like no money, I would think: 'Wow that sounds great. I don't have to deal with the aggravation of this business!' I think everyone has those moments—the escape route dream. But it never works that way. You go there and you think: 'This sucks. I want to go back to what I was doing.'"
Recently, Rudolf has been working with such top acts as Weezer, Simple Plan, Leona Lewis, Three 6 Mafia and Natasha Bedingfield. While he enjoys writing and producing for others, he also always feels the urge to perform and record his own work.
"I could never turn off wanting to say something for myself," he says. "That's one of the main reasons I love doing my artist records. I love getting to say what I want to say. It's an amazing piece of freedom to have.
And he'll continue to write emotionally charged songs veiled in happy dance beats. "It is way harder to be Chevy Chase than to be Daniel Day-Lewis," he says with a laugh.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 12, 2013