Rather than try to make songs for the radio, pop singer Jason Derülo prefers to make honest art. His aim, he says, is “to not be influenced by trends, and make sure that [my art is] coming from a true place.” Contrary to his intentions, however, the Florida native scored a big hit with his ridiculously popular (and trendy!) debut single, “Whatcha Say.” After a few weeks, the Imogen Heap sampled song could be heard at least once an hour on any given pop radio station. It climbed its way to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and held down that position for four weeks. Not bad for a first try.
The lingering question is, can Derülo maintain that same sort of momentum when his debut album “Jason Derülo,” drops in the summer of 2010? One thing is for sure, he is beyond prepared. The singer/songwriter has recorded over 300 potential songs for the album with producer J.R. Rotem. “J.R. and I literally locked ourselves in the studio, wrote and recorded,” he says.
This dedication comes as no surprise once you learn more about Derülo’s background. Inspired after seeing Michael Jackson perform at the age of 5, Derülo told his mother that he was going to be “just like him.” “From that day on I never looked back,” he says. Instead of playing outside with friends, he would practice singing and dancing for hours on end. His mother recognized his passion and enrolled him in various performing arts schools.
By 16, Derülo got his professional start when he got the chance to write and sing the chorus on Cash Money CEO Birdman’s song “Bossy.” That gig opened doors for Derülo to work with Lil Wayne, Diddy, Cassie, Sean Kingston, Danity Kane and others. Derulo used the opportunity to gain entry into the music industry, but his childhood dream of performing his own songs stayed on his mind. “I actually never wanted to be a songwriter, it was just something that I was doing because it was lucrative and, maybe, my way in,” he says.
Soon after, his true destiny came calling. Impressed after hearing some of Derülo’s work with other artists, J.R. Rotem called to set up a meeting. J.R., who has worked with industry heavyweights like Rihanna, 50 Cent and Britney Spears, had just formed a joint venture with Warner Bros. records and his own label Beluga Heights. After their first studio session, J.R. noticed that Derülo was talented beyond his writing ability and signed him as an artist.
Now 20, Derülo has managed to conquer feats that many industry veterans still dream about. And he’s only just gotten started. He’s gearing up to tour as the opening act on Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour at the end of December. He recorded “Strobelight” for the soundtrack of the upcoming dance flick “Turn The Beat Around,” and he released a video for his second single “In My Head,” (which is an even “poppier” song than his first).
This all likely fits in with Derülo’s desire to make music that “has no boundaries,” as he puts it. “I don’t want to stay in a box or be locked into one particular genre,” he says. So far, however, his official releases mostly fall into the electronically-charged-pop category. For those hoping Derülo could be fresh meat strictly for the R&B arena… don’t hold your breath. For those hoping this multi-talented singer can make it as more than a one-hit wonder, stay tuned. Regardless, Jason Derülo is one to watch.
Written by Shaira Brereton