Rotimi Talks ‘Power’ Moves, New Song ‘Lotto’ & Wise Words From 50 Cent and Tyrese [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Most people know 50 Cent as hip-hop's big bad bully, but to Rotimi, he's certainly more friend than foe. The 26-year-old singer recently signed a deal with Fif's G-Unit Records and works closely with the rapper on his hit Starz drama Power, where he plays a wild card of a character named Dre. At the moment, Rotimi's talent is taking him to the big screen, small screen and everywhere in between, but he's extremely focused on pushing his music career to new heights.
If his new single "Lotto" is any indication, Rotimi's got a good thing going on. The track is the kind of R&B that gets your fingers snapping and shoulders grooving, plus it's a familiar message: the moment you feel like the luckiest guy (or girl) when you've met that special someone. "I know you catching the vibe / Tell by the look in your eye, girl you know I / We gon' get active tonight / I hit the jackpot tonight," he sings. 50 even joins the rising crooner on the effort.
So how did Rotimi manage to score a deal with G-Unit? Well, he wasn't like those other guys; you know, the kind that Fif is bombarded with on set and on the street, begging him to listen to their demo. The New Jersey native steered clear of telling 50 Cent about his musical gift while shooting scenes for season two of Power. "I got Power on my own through my agent and my team. I didn't know 50 until I got on the show. Because my character is so close to his, we spent a lot of time as friends. But even in that, I didn't really bring up music to him because I saw how everybody else was bringing up music to him. Like extras or people on the streets," he tells The Boombox.
It wasn't until G-Unit Records A&R Tony G. welcomed Rotimi, born Olurotimi Akinosho, up to the office in New York City to have a meeting about his music career that the Get Rich or Die Tryin' creator got wind of his search for a label home. That's when he heard "Lotto," a song Rotimi had already recorded, and the rest is history.
Since 50 Cent and Rotimi's Power characters spent a good amount of time together on set, the two naturally built a friendship when the cameras were off. With more than 15 years in the music business, the Queens MC serves as a trustworthy mentor. More times than not, the singer has gone to Fif for advice.
"It's kind of generic but it's really true hearing it from [50 Cent] because it's proven, to just always be true to yourself," Rotimi shares. "I think that's the number one thing that he's told me because when you're true to yourself your talents can get recognized in different avenues, your business decisions are always following your intuition, your acting is your intuition, your music is your intuition, so everything is just staying true to yourself and being honest. And being around him I've seen how important a great team is. When you have a well-oiled machine it makes everything better. I pick his brain on everything when it comes to women, when it comes to money. I always ask questions. He's an OG."
Listen to Rotimi's "Lotto" Feat. 50 Cent
While fans are currently engrossed in the current season of Power, Rotimi is using this downtime off camera to focus on getting "Lotto" to as many ears as possible. He's certainly had more experience on the acting front (he's starred in shows like Boss and the movie Black Nativity with Tyrese), but he's off to a promising start with a supportive team behind him. However, like many people who find themselves flourishing in multiple career aspects, Rotimi has hit some bumps along the way.
"Being a growing entertainer, period, you're going to always have struggles. I'm still trying to learn how to even perform right onstage. Or I'm still trying to learn how to execute a scene in maybe three and not five takes and I'm a perfectionist when it comes to it," he reveals. "It's always a challenge. I feel like just hard work -- not to sound cliche -- really hard work and spending time on your craft it becomes easier and easier." Since he's moving on to season three of Power and hitting the studio on the regular, it's paying off.
Rotimi looks to a few R&B greats for inspiration to keep him going. Carl Thomas, Boyz II Men (they taught him how to harmonize) and R. Kelly ("I'm Your Angel," his 1998 collaboration with Celine Dion, is one of his favorites), to name a few. Then there's Bob Marley. The crooner's father, one of the reggae legend's biggest fans, put him on to his work, specifically "This Train." The song's lyrics are more than just something he identifies with; he has the music composition tattooed on his body. That's how you know it's real.
"[Bob Marley] made music for the people and he's told stories in his music. There's never been an entertainer that can take two warring parties and have both presidents stand on the stage and hold hands," Rotimi states. "It's like the Obama effect before Obama. Having that kind of awareness and having music that can live forever, it's the total package. He was doing it before his time. If there was Instagram or Twitter back then he'd have 75 million [followers]." We agree.
His face and sound may not be as noticeable as his boss 50 Cent, but Rotimi has been at this music thing for a while. He's already released a few mixtapes (The Resume, While You Wait) and collaborated with some recognizable names including Dawn Richard on "Already Know" and the Gucci Mane-assisted "Bottles." His working relationship with Guwop proved that the rapper was strictly about his business. "He pulled up and he was like, 'You got the money?' He literally got the money and then went in and did the verse in like 10 minutes. He said, 'Iight, good meeting you.' I said, 'Iight, cool bro.' There was no chit chat. It was legit business. But you gotta respect that. I didn't take it any type of way. He came and did his job and it sounded hot. You gotta respect it."
He's certainly been on the giving and receiving end of respect in his burgeoning career. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fanatic has gotten his fair share of wisdom from 50 Cent, but there's also been another guy whose helped him along the way when he's grappled with pursuing an acting career or the road to singing stardom, especially when it seemed like one was always getting in the way of the other.
"It took a conversation with Tyrese in 2013, to really get it. We did a movie called Black Nativity together, and he was like, 'You can't force anything. You just have to roll with what life is giving you. These opportunities are happening because they're meant to help your situation over here as well. But you wouldn't be able to get in these doors and meet these people if you didn't have that.' So I had to look back and say, you know what, let me stop fighting the blessing. The right time for everything will take care of itself," Rotimi explains.
The blessings keep coming. He's got a new film on the way in January 2016 -- Deuces, in which he stars alongside Larenz Tate and Meagan Good. Plus, a new song featuring Kardinal Offishall called "Fire." If you know what it feels like to have your ex begging for a second chance even though you're in a new relationship, this is the track for you.
With a solid music and acting career on his plate, what else could possibly be missing? Mrs. Right. "At this point in my life I'm just really trying to see what type of woman I like. You're put on this platform where you see beauty every day and you kinda get numb to it," he admits. "So then it's like, what else do you have? You really can't hold a conversation? Next."
Ladies, take note.
Listen to Rotimi's "Bottles" Feat. Gucci Mane
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