Kevin Rudolf

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Kevin Rudolf
Kevin Rudolf.jpg
Kevin Rudolf
Background information
Birth name Kevin Winston Rudolf
Born (1983-02-17) February 17, 1983 (age 32)
New York City, New York
United States
Genres Rock, rap rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass
Years active 2000–present
Labels Cash Money, Republic Records
Associated acts Lil Wayne, Birdman, Lifehouse, Flo Rida
Notable instruments
Les Paul Classic "Black Beauty", guitalele

Kevin Winston Rudolf (born February 17, 1983) is an American musician, singer-songwriter and music producer.[1] Born and raised in New York City, New York, Rudolf began writing songs at a young age. He has written, or co-written every song on each of his albums, as well as writing and producing songs for many of the most popular artists of the era.[1] Rudolf's production skills and guitar playing have also won acclaim.[2] In 2004, Rudolf spent time in Miami working alongside famed producer Timbaland, on songs by Justin Timberlake, The Black-Eyed Peas and Nelly Furtado, among others. He enjoyed his time in Miami, and would later make it his home.[3] His first single, "Let it Rock", did well commercially, achieving multi-platinum status, with sales of over 4 million copies. The lyrics dealt with Rudolf's personal triumph and determination in the face of hardship.[4][5] A second single, "I Made It", also achieved platinum status, with sales exceeding one million.[6] He has won the influential Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Pop Music award three times for his songwriting, producing and performing.[7]

Rudolf's songs are known to "cross genres," combining rock and hip hop.[7] He has commented that, while his roots are in rock music, he is open to other influences. "I'm not much of a fan of rap/rock at all. But to make rock music now without realizing the influence hip-hop has had in music is not authentic either."[8] His rock/hip hop anthem, Let it Rock, featuring rapper Lil Wayne, has sold over 4 million copies, and hit the top 10 in countries including the United States, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia.[7]

Early life[edit]

Kevin Winston Rudolf was born on February 17, 1983, in New York City, New York, to Ellyn, an American singer, and Stephen, a British disc jockey of English heritage. He grew up an only child on the Upper East Side, his parents divorcing while he was still very young. His middle name, Winston, is an homage to Beatle John Winston Lennon. "My dad... was a DJ at the time in Baltimore. He's British, and emceed some shows for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In fact, that's why my middle name is Winston, he named me after John Lennon's middle name. And, of course, mom being a singer, she'd let me come to her gigs and soundchecks. They both really influenced me a lot to be a musician." .[9]

Rudolf has said that his first musical memory is of listening to the Van Halen song 'Jump,' while jumping around the apartment in which he grew up.[10] His first guitar was a gift from his grandfather, who realized that his grandson already "had a passion for [music]."[9] His skills on the instrument improved rapidly. "My mother actually said something really smart to me. She said, 'Whatever you put in, you'll get out,' so I thought, that makes sense...I started practicing a lot."[2]

Rudolf played with several local bands, including an alternative rock group known as 'Paint,' but soon found himself frustrated with the tensions and internal squabbles associated with a band situation. Taking matters into his own hands, Rudolf began creating his own beats and musical tracks, as well as writing the material."[2]


Early career[edit]

In 2000, Rudolf began work on the group of songs that, nine months later, would form the basis for his major label debut. Written, produced and engineered by Rudolf, and mixed by Mark Saunders, the album took nine months to complete.[4] Rudolf was signed to Madonna's record label, Maverick, which released the album under the pseudonym, Binocular. A song from the album, "You", was used in the TV show "Smallville" (2001), and a song not appearing on the album, "Maybe You're Gone" (written by Danny Scherr), was later used over the end credits of the movie "The Girl Next Door" (2004).[11] Despite receiving positive reviews, the album went largely unnoticed in the United States.[12]

Session work[edit]

Rudolf's solo career took a detour in 2003, when famed recording engineer Jimmy Douglass introduced him to superstar producer Timbaland. Rudolf was invited to watch a recording session, but, at Timbaland's urging, soon found himself participating, by playing guitar on Lil' Kim's 2003 hit "The Jump Off." Rudolf remembers, "At first I just went into the studio to absorb what I could. I brought my guitar as sort of peace offering so I wasn't feeling completely useless. Soon I was playing parts on songs."

Rudolf has stated that his time spent with Timbaland influenced his own attitude in making records. "Working with Timbaland, I was amazed by his work ethic and just how much he would work on something until he got the results he wanted."[13] He would go on to collaborate with Timbaland on many songs, including those by The Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, and David Banner.[10]

Cash Money[edit]

Rudolf continued to work on his solo material throughout 2007, while still working with Timbaland. During one memorable session, he met Bryan "Birdman" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams, brothers and co-CEO's of Cash Money Records. "I played them a couple of records I produced and wrote and they liked them for one of their artists. Then I played them my solo stuff and they flipped out over this song called "Coffee and Donuts". We built from there, and a few months later Lil Wayne got on 'Let It Rock' and they signed me, and the rest is history.[10]

When Rudolf was signed to a record deal by Cash Money, he became the first white artist, as well as the first rock artist, signed to a label previously known for releasing records by African-American rap artists, including, most famously, Lil Wayne. CEO Slim Williams explained, "we love one-of-a-kind artists, and Kevin rolls that way in everything he does...we are always looking at the next step, the next level we can take our audience. I knew his work with other artists, but when he played me his solo stuff, we just knew we had to partner up."[14]

On January 13th 2015 Kevin Rudolf tweeted saying he was no longer part of Cash money "I want to thank Cash Money Records for an incredible run BUT I'm happy to say that in 2015 I'm a free man!!!!"

Major label success[edit]

"Let It Rock" was the first single from In the City (2008).

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Let it Rock", the initial single from Rudolf's then-upcoming album, In the City, was released on June 16, 2008. Written and produced by Rudolf, and featuring Lil Wayne, the song met with immediate success, debuting at Number 5 on Billboard Magazine's influential Hot 100 chart.[7] Noted music critic David Jeffries predicted that fans would find the song, "a near-perfect highlight,"[15] while critic Rick Florino called Rudolf's voice "sexy and bombastic" and noted his "diverse set of pipes." [15] The song became a staple of sporting events, listed by BMI as the second most-played song in NFL, MLB and NHL arenas and stadiums.[16]

With "Let it Rock" already a massive hit, fans and media still noted a sense of "mystery" surrounding Rudolf. "There really was no mystery," he said. "The song just blew up faster than we could catch up with it. But it was great that the music was given a chance to speak for itself. People truly felt it--it wasn't anything fake. And with me, music always comes first. Unlike some artists, I don't want the attention to be put on myself as much as my music."[13]

In the City[edit]

Rudolf's first studio album, titled In the City, was released on November 24, 2008, and was produced and co-written by Rudolf, with the exception of one song, She Can Get It, which was co-produced by The Neptunes. Rudolf explained that the album was about "growing up in New York City when the city was wild... it felt like there were no rules and you could be anyone you wanted. That is the landscape of this album."[14] The album was noted for Rudolf's distinctive merging of musical styles, namely, rock and hip-hop. "It's about taking rock attitude vocally, hip hop drums, synths, and guitars and sharpening the edges of everything in a sense. You bring it together. That's how I do it."[17]

Rudolf's penchant for "genre-bending" was noted in many reviews of the album. "'In the City' cribs tricks from both rap and rock 'n' roll, not in the pursuit of a bastardised Limp Bizkit-type hybrid, but with the intention to produce a crossover rock record with modern hip-hop's hard to deny Rudolf is a man with some big ideas."[18]

With lead single "Let it Rock" still garnering the most attention, other songs from the album also began to have impact. "Welcome to the World", the album's second single, went gold and was featured prominently in advertisements for WrestleMania XXVI.[19][20][21] "NYC" was featured on an episode of CSI: NY.[22]

Throughout most of 2009, Rudolf performed songs from In the City live, including appearances on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Dancing with the Stars, The Miss USA Pageant and the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.[14]

To the Sky[edit]

On June 15, 2010, Rudolf's second studio album, To the Sky, was released. The album consists of 11 tracks with a total running time of 37 minutes. The first single from the album, "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)", was released on February 2, 2010, in advance of the album, becoming Rudolf's second platinum single.[19] It was followed, on September 14, by the single "You Make the Rain Fall." Critical reviews were mixed, with one saying, "this is 'In the City' a higher level,[23] while others noted the "good songwriting," but lamented that "without a worthy 'Let it Rock' successor, this is hard to recommend over his debut."[24]

Responding to a question about his song, I Made It, Rudolf elaborated on his own feelings regarding success. "I think that 'making it' is something that you do in stages. There's a certain feeling of 'I made it' when you have a hit on the radio for the first time and people are feeling it and buying it and reacting to it at shows. But I've also set new goals since then."[25]

Production Work[edit]

In September, 2009, having finished two solo albums, Rudolf moved from his adopted home of Miami, to Los Angeles to concentrate on co-writing and producing records for several LA-based artists, including Cobra Starship, Leona Lewis, Lifehouse, Natasha Beddingfield, Selena Gomez and Weezer.[3] "I spent a lot of time in L.A. after a couple of my records blew up, and I got into producing and writing for a lot of other artists out there. I got into that whole game. Then when I got back to New York—I grew up in New York—I felt completely inspired all over again. I felt like I had done enough of writing songs for other people, that I wanted to really say something. I think what music's lacking right now is there's really no message. No one's saying anything...I just felt like I really wanted to put something back in the world that inspires people, says something, and means something."[26]

Relocation to Miami[edit]

Rudolf in Miami in 2013

Having grown up in New York City, the only child of divorced parents, Rudolf has stated that he has found greater inspiration, and a stronger sense of belonging in his adopted city of Miami. Rudolf first lived temporarily in Miami while doing session work with producer Timbaland. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2010 while writing and producing for several artists, Rudolf returned to New York for a brief time in 2012 to begin work on his upcoming album. However, he missed living in Miami and, later that year, made it his permanent residence. In the documentary, Ferraris and Helicopters, Rudolf explained his attraction to the city. "When i moved down to Miami it was like moving to another planet because i was so used to New York, the energy and the craziness and everything. I came down here [and] i really didn't know too many people. I would go to this place called the Greek Place for breakfast, and I sort of found myself sitting up at the bar talking to the old retirees, South American people, Orthodox Jews-and the local Floridians, and it became part of my daily life. I don't know how it happened. I just started hanging out and having conversations. I still talk to all those people, a lot of them when i go back there. It's cool because it gave me the feeling of a hometown rooting for you. Because i grew up in New York, and it's not really that hometown rooting for you kind of thing, it's more like everybody's just trying to do their own thing."[27]

Song for Keith Urban[edit]

"(I'm) exploring a lot of different sounds and parts of myself with this next record. If somebody put a gun to my head and said 'You have to put it out tomorrow' I could, but I'm going to keep working until we're mastering, and we're not there yet. But obviously I'm excited about this."

—Rudolf, speaking about his experiences of making his new album.

In 2013, Rudolf took a break from recording his own album to co-write a song with country artist, Keith Urban, and established country songwriting brothers, Brad and Brett Warren, called "Little Bit of Everything", which Urban debuted May 16, 2013 on the Season 12 finale of American Idol.[28]Billboard Magazine noted that a country song was a departure from Rudolf's usual fare, however, Urban and the "Warren Brothers found common ground with Rudolf since they all played guitar and had rather wide-ranging tastes."[29]

In the same article, Billboard also noted that Rudolf's next single, "Here's to Us," had already been mixed by top mixing engineer, Serban Ghenea.[29]

New single and video: Here's to Us[edit]

On July 2, 2013, Perez Hilton premiered Rudolf's video for his upcoming single, "Here's to Us." Hilton stated, "Here's To Us will be the lead single off his upcoming third album. We seriously got goosebumps watching this video! It has such a positive message. We just LOVE Kevin's outlook on life!"

On July 26, Rudolf announced via his official Twitter page that the single, "Here's to Us" would be available on iTunes as of Tuesday, July 30.[30] The song was also featured on the soundtrack of the video game 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (video game).[31]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart
2008 In the City 94 74
2010 To the Sky
  • Release date: June 15, 2010
  • Label: Cash Money, Universal Republic
78 70


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
US Pop
2008 "Let It Rock" (featuring Lil Wayne) 5 6 3 2 3 15 5 In the City
2009 "Welcome to the World" (featuring Rick Ross) 58 26 42 56 34 77
2010 "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)"
(featuring Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne)
21 17 4 44 21 4 37 To the Sky
"You Make the Rain Fall" (featuring Flo Rida) 59
2012 "Don't Give Up" TBA
"Champions" (featuring Limp Bizkit, Birdman & Lil Wayne)
2013 "Here's to Us"

Guest appearances[edit]

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Shooting Star" 2009 David Rush, Pitbull N/A
"One Way Trip" 2010 Lil Wayne Rebirth
"I Want It All" Birdman, Lil Wayne Priceless
"Just Say So" Brian McFadden Wall of Soundz
"A Million Lights" 2011 DJ Khaled, Tyga, Cory Gunz, Mack Maine, Jae Millz We the Best Forever
"Novacane" Lil Wayne Tha Carter IV
"Always Rains" Jared Evan "Back and Fourth"
"Don't Hustle Again" Birdman, Rick Ross The H

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Director
2008 "Let It Rock" Justin Francis
2009 "Welcome to the World" Jeff Panzer/Bill Yukich
2010 "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)" Jeff Panzer/David Rousseau
"You Make the Rain Fall"[41] Jeff Panzer
2012 "Don't Give Up" Shomi Patwary
2013 "Champions" (featuring Lil Wayne, Limp Bizkit, Birdman)
"Here's to Us" Kevin Rudolf[42]


BMI Pop Awards[edit]

Year Title Artist (s)
2010 "Let It Rock" Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne
2011 "Halfway Gone" Lifehouse
"Good Girls Go Bad" Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester

Production credits[edit]

Musician credits[edit]

Instrument Year Title Album Artist(s)
Guitar, Bass 2005 "Thinking of You" Certified David Banner (feat. Case)
Guitar 2006 "Say It Right" Loose Nelly Furtado
"Scream" Timbaland Presents Shock Value Timbaland (feat. Keri Hilson and Nicole Scherzinger)
"Release" Timbaland (feat. Justin Timberlake)
"My Style" Monkey Business The Black Eyed Peas (feat. Justin Timberlake)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Artist Direct (2009). [1] Retrieved May 25, 2013
  2. ^ a b c Lewis, Brittany (April 23, 2012). "Kevin Rudolf: "Who Would've Thought I Would End Up On Cash Money?"". Global Grind. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Kipnis, Andy. "Kevin Rudolf". AAMINC. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Bonacich, Drago (2003). [2] Retrieved May 26, 2013
  5. ^ Kevin Rudolf RIAA certifications, published by RIAA.
  6. ^ Database, RIAA (October 18, 2010). "Gold And Platinum Awards". RIAA DAtabase. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d Jeffries, David (October 13, 2010). "Kevin Rudolf". Allmusic. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Kevin Rudolf-Clash Q&A". Clash Magazine. January 13, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "KEVIN RUDOLF -Bio". Bio of Kevin Rudolf=May 25, 2013. January 13, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c "KEVIN RUDOLF -Clash Q&A". Clash Q&A=May 25, 2013. January 13, 2009. 
  11. ^ [3] Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  12. ^ Allmusic (2009). However, it was successful in the Philippines. [4] Retrieved May 26, 2013
  13. ^ a b "Kevin Rudolf Exposed". June 19, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c "Kevin Rudolf". Askmen. October 13, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Jeffries, David (January 12, 2008). "In the city review". Artistdirect. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Let it Rock by Kevin Rudolf Songfacts". Songfacts. October 1, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Kevin Rudolf talks Don't Give Up". Artistdirect. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ "BBC - Review of Kevin Rudolf". BBC. December 12, 2008. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c d e "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – September 4, 2010: Kevin Rudolf certified singles". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  20. ^ Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles
  21. ^ - Welcome to the World - Kevin Rudolf featuring Kid Cudi - Chart positions
  22. ^ "Enough". CSI: NY. Season 5. Episode 6. 2008-11-05.
  23. ^ "Kevin Rudolf: To the Sky". June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Kevin Rudolf: To the Sky Review". June 10, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Kevin Rudolf: The Interview". June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  26. ^ Yaport, Loriana (November 5, 2012). "YRB Interview: Kevin Rudolf". YRB. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ Ragogna, Mike. "Kevin Rudolf's Exclusive EPK". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  28. ^ Nicholson, Jessica. "Keith Urban to Perform New Single on 'American Idol' Finale". Music Row. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Roland, Tom. "Keith Urban Has Everything Going For Him". Billboard. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  30. ^ Rudolf, Kevin. "Here's to Us Will be Released on Tuesday on iTunes!!". Twitter. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  31. ^ "EA SPORTS 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Soundtrack Reveal". EA Sports. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Kevin Rudolf Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Kevin Rudolf Album & Song Chart History – Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Kevin Rudolf Album & Song Chart History – Pop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  35. ^ " – Australian charts portal". September 4, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Kevin Rudolf Album & Song Chart History – Canadian Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  37. ^ " – New Zealand charts portal". Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Chart Stats – Kevin Rudolf". Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  39. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Singles". ARIA Charts. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  40. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2010 Singles". ARIA Charts. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Kevin Rudolf music videos". VEVO. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  42. ^ HIlton, Perez. "EXCLUSIVE! Kevin Rudolf Premieres His NEW Music Video For Here's To Us!". perezhilton. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Kevin Lyttle – Fyah (CD, Album) at Discogs". 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 

External links[edit]