The name Kevin Rudolf might have not been that familiar three months ago, and even with a chart topping radio smash single on his hands right now (“Let It Rock”, featuring Lil’ Wayne), a lot of people still don’t know who he is. But fact of the matter is, young Kevin – a guitar-wielding rock vocalist from New York City – has been around the block, lending his strings to many a Timbaland beat, including Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right”. This partially explains why Rudolf’s sound is eerily similar to Danja Handz, despite the fact that much of his debut is self-produced.
Signed to Ca$h Money Records, it’s almost a fluke that a primarily Dirty South hip-hop label has seen such massive success with rock/pop artist like Rudolf. Much of this is obviously owed to Lil’ Wayne, who adds the perfect edge to Kev’s lead single, “Let It Rock”, helping it instantly catch a following in radio. These types of collaborations are few and far in between on his album, however, but when they do happen, they are executed flawlessly. Nas appears on the similar sounding “NYC”, an ode to the city that both call home, as Kevin recounts memories in the third person. Also ridiculously catchy and a sure shot next single is “Welcome To The World”, featuring an uncharacteristically blistering verse from Rick Ross. “Life’s a tour / I’m so sure / the x is pure / before you exit Europe” and later, “two stars / hold all applause / I hold it down / he holds all guitars.”
This formula is executed perfectly on these three songs, which are enough to secure hundreds of thousands of paid downloads and ringtone sales, not to mention radio spins for Rudolf. The rest of the album is more of a traditional rock record, which may let down listeners looking for a full LP of rock/rap fusion (that is, not done in a bad Limp Bizkit sort of way). The Neptunes produced “She Can Get It” definitely carries the N.E.R.D. influence, however songs like the bluesy “No Way Out”, the acoustics driven “I Song”, or the swingy “Give Me A Sign” merely plod along, lacking the extra “oomph” of the rap collabos.
Sounding like a young Jon Bon Jovi, there’s definitely talent in Kevin Rudolf, but In The City is not the perfect pop album that the singles suggest that it could be. Despite this fact, Kevin shows lots of potential, and he’s on track to be a household name, it just make take a few albums to do so. – Pizzo
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