In today’s climate, stars are tasked with being multi-hyphenate and making their mark in a multitude of arenas.
This a memo singer/actor Rotimi is well-acquainted with.Array
Currently receiving praise aplenty for his role of Dre in STARZ smash ‘Power,’ the 28-year-old also counts singer amongst his many talents.
He recently released an EP christened ‘Jeep Music Vol. 1,’ which we caught up with him to speak about. We also quizzed him on ‘Power,’ his Nigerian upbringing, being signed to 50 Cent, Beyonce, Rihanna, and a whole lot more.
Get to know Rotimi a little more below…
That Grape Juice: Jumping straight into things. Nigerian upbringings are notoriously “traditional” and Naija parents tend to want their children to be doctors, lawyers and accountants.
Tell us a little bit about your journey into show-business and how your family really reacted to those aspirations that you had.
Rotimi: My journey started when my mom found out that I could actually sing when I was five years old. She was my first manager.
Nigerian families want you to either be a doctor or lawyer or a dentist. So, because my mom said “my son has a gift,” she was like listen, I want him to be completely who he is. Because of that, she had me playing the violin, she had me playing the piano, she had me playing the clarinet, all type of things and just lyrically surrounded me with opportunities. So, they were super supportivevery early. And as I got older I realized that music was my only thing that I really enjoy.
That Grape Juice: You discovered your gift quite early on; who were your aspirations growing up?
Rotimi: Oh, I loved Bob Marley, I loved Lauryn Hill, I was a big Boyz II Men fan. Garth Brooks too; my mom loved Country music and I always was into artists that told stories. Acts whose material wasn’t just about the music, but also about the message behind it.
On that front,Bob Marley really inspired me and made me just want to be a storyteller, that’s why I added that kind of element to my project [‘Jeep Music Vol. 1’]and it’s just about storytelling you know and a relationship that I went through.
That Grape Juice: That’s a great segueway into your artistry. How would Rotimi describe “Rotimi” as an artist?
Rotimi: Very, very honest man. I have a record out right now called ‘Nobody’ featuring 50 Cent and T.I, but my project is really me. It’s what I went through in my relationship, it was a sad relationship that I had for five years and we grew together, we grew up together and you know, it’s just a story of that. All the good times, the bad times, and she saw me grow up as a man. But then those five years, going from college to then having my first big break and then after, then to being in ‘Power’ – it was a lot. My EP is mostly just the story behind it. It’s heartfelt lyrically and production-wise you hear some Afro-Beats too.
That Grape Juice: Cool.
You’ve been out on the scene for quite a while, what would you say the best and the worst advice you’ve received thus far has been?
Rotimi: The best advice I’ve been told was just always be myself, always speak from my heart, always trust my instincts and always be true. The worst is total opposite. Like “oh man because this person’s doing it, you gotta go it” or conform to what’s happening and to second guess yourself. like I’ve been around a lot of people who second guess their gifts because they get insecure about it. So for me it’s always been about trusting the process, trusting myself and trusting my God.
That Grape Juice: Great answer.
You’re signed to 50’s G-Unit label; what’s it like working with him? Obviously, he’s had a wealth of success and you worked with him in another capacity as well, but musically, what’s it like working with him?
Rotimi: I mean, working with 50 is one of those things where you just, you learn by watching, you learn by the way he moves. He’s a modern-day renaissance man so he does everything very well and I want to do the same thing. [I feel blessed] having him be a part of my life and to trust me and to invest in me and to tell me that he wants to see me winning and teach me. I mean it’s a crash course to being great man, so I’m just so happy and blessed to have him in my life.
That Grape Juice: On the topic of 50, that’s a great kind of bridge for to discuss ‘Power’! We are hooked every week.
Your character Andre really walks that thin line between good and bad. We’ve seen your character develop a lot, how’s that journey been for you?
Rotimi: Oh man, the journey’s been amazing. You know my character’s starting to grow into the most hated [laughs]. But you know it’s cool because it makes him memorable. Also, it’s helping me as an actor with other opportunities outside of ‘Power.’
I’ve always been told that if you can affect them in any capacity where they feel something by watching you, then you’re doing your job right. So, the fact that the Dre character’s grown into this part and is now one of the new breakout stars that they’re saying, it’s an amazing feeling man.
That Grape Juice: What would you say some of the most challenging aspects of portraying Dre?
Rotimi: I don’t know, I mean, at this point I’ve got him pretty much down, I’ve created who he is, I’ve made his mannerisms, the way he stares, the way he looks, the way he speaks to people, the decisions he makes, I’m kind of comfortable with them now, so… it’s not really difficult. But, it’s always interesting because Courtney and the writers always allow me to have fun and try new things. But, at this point, Dre I’ve figured out exactly who he is as a character.
That Grape Juice: Kind of flipping the script a little bit, what other TV shows that you tuned into weekly?
Rotimi: ‘Queen of the South,’ my trainer actually put me onto it. I like ‘Entourage’ and I’m watching ‘American Crime’ right now which is also pretty good.
That Grape Juice: On the acting front, if you could play anyone in a biopic who would you play?
Rotimi: I’d play Sidney Poitier.
That Grape Juice: Why?
Rotimi: Because he’s the original triple threat and I would love to play somebody like that.
That Grape Juice: Rounding up now, we’re all about positive energy here at That Grape Juice.
If you could put anything out in the air about what you would like to achieve as both a singer and as an actor in the next five years what would they be?
Rotimi: In the next five years, I feel like I’ll have Grammys, I’ll have Tonys, I’ll have Emmys, I’ll have Oscars. You know, that’s the goal and again, I’m very competitive so, if you’re not in this to be the best, then why are you doing it? That’s where I am right now, and in the next five years I want to be known as one of the best to do it.
That Grape Juice: Lastly, let’s play a quick game. I will give you two words, you tell me which you’d prefer and why. Ready?
Rotimi: Yes, sure!
That Grape Juice: MJ or Prince?
Rotimi: MJ. He taught me how to entertain.
That Grape Juice: Beyoncé or Rihanna?
Rotimi: Oh…I respect both of them, but I like them for different reasons. Beyoncé just what she represents is awesome but I love listening to Rihanna.
That Grape Juice: Okay, so we’re going with Rihanna for that one?
Rotimi: Yeah [laughs].
That Grape Juice: And final question; it’s a real serious one. So I want you to think really hard about this one…
Jollof rice or fried rice?
Rotimi: [In Nigerian accent] Jollof rice, now!!! [Laughs]
That Grape Juice: [Laughs] Thanks for your time.
Rotimi: Thank you brother.