This Miami Beach multi-instrumentalist made his bones playing on and producing records by David Banner and the Black Eyed Peas. Like Timbaland and the Neptunes before him, though, Rudolf’s behind-the-scenes work only whetted his limelight appetite, so here he steps out with a weirdly infectious debut that mixes his rap-track know-how with his love of guitar-god theatrics. (Think ”Beat It,” not Limp Bizkit.) In the City never veers too far from the stadium-ready sound of ”Let It Rock,” Rudolf’s top 10 collaboration with rapper Lil Wayne.
Sold as a rap/rock/pop triple threat with massive crossover potential, Kevin Rudolf is actually less hip-hop than Kid Rock, Fergie, and maybe even Gwen Stefani. Even if the rap bit is oversold, this hip-pop-rock kid who performs, writes, and produces is keenly aware of how much urban music flavor the pop music genre had absorbed since the millennium turned. He loves a guitar crunch and there are too many fist-raising rock anthems on his debut album to call this rap/rock/pop in equal shares, but when superstar rapper, Rudolf advocate, and Cash Money label boss Lil Wayne shows up, In the City becomes an album for the second MTV generation.
AMiami-based jack-of-all-trades who's being launched into 2009 as a cross between Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Sam Sparro, Kevin Rudolf does have one unassailable thing going for him: the monster single Let It Rock. Featuring a Lil' Wayne guest spot and a metallic, continent-sized chorus. It has deservedly sold 1m downloads in America. The rest of the album? Though Rudolf sandwiches together rock, R&B and hip-hop like an up-to-the-minute genre-bender, at heart he loves his guitar and the soft-rock noises it makes.
Let’s start with the obvious: “Let It Rock” is one monster of a single. Built on a simple synth-lick, boisterous rock guitars, and a catchy-as-hell chorus, “Let It Rock” is a defiantly disposable anthem that retains its impact with multiple listens. It’s a remarkable achievement given that singer Kevin Rudolf not only wrote it himself, but he also produced it and played all the guitar parts on it by his lonesome.