Emerging just two years ago, 21-year-old Derulo is already established as one of the world’s biggest pop stars, not to mention one of Warner’s most successful current artists. The label is now preparing for the September 26 release of his second album Future History on the back of shifting more than 17 million singles sales – 1.8 million downloads in the UK alone – from his self-titled debut.
With Derulo having scored number ones on both sides of the Atlantic and UK arena dates likely to be announced for next year, Warner Bros UK vice chairman Jeremy Marsh suggested he is “our strongest developing US act at the moment”. “This is a guy whose demand as an individual seems to grow on a daily basis,” Marsh said. “I think he spans the pop and urban genres very well because he is one of the few acts who can do both well.”
Derulo’s own definition is clear: “Definitely – pop can describe it the best. But as I put more songs out and you see more material it’s kinda hard to put me in a box. I guess it’s easy to try and put me in a box, but the amount of music that I’m able to make and the amount of music that I’m in love with is just so wide. I have songs on my album that have rock influence. I have songs on my album that have Eurodance influence. I have songs on my album that have urban influence.”
Derulo was born to Haitian parents in Miami and began performing at the age of five when he idolised Michael Jackson and schooled at the Performing Arts School in Fort Lauderdale two-hours away from his home in Miami. “(My upbringing) definitely wasn’t normal. I used to wake up at 4am to go to school.
So that was every day and I had to do that coming back home and when I got home it was just music, music, music, music,” he said.
Derulo’s break came aged 12 when he was spotted by elder law student Frank Harris who was teaching him basketball at the American Musical And Dramatic Academy – notable alumni include Jason Mraz and Janelle Monae – who became his manager. Derulo says: “He’s a part of my family. He’s like a brother to me. He has been my biggest mentor businesswise, just in terms of being a man in general as well. Throughout this whole thing we always make decisions together. So like when I do a song it’s his opinion that matters the most. Though I have A&Rs, though I have presidents of labels and all of that, that’s all good and well but, at the end of the day, his opinion is the first opinion I’ll listen to, other than mine of course.”
Cutting his teeth writing hits by the age of 16 for the likes of Diddy and Lil Wayne, Derulo remained intent on becoming a solo artist and was signed by producer JR Rotem (Rihanna, Sean Kingston) to his Beluga Heights label, which was picked up by Warner by songwriter, A&R executive and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.
Collaborations on the new album, which was finished a fortnight ago and showcases a more mature sound, include Rotem and DioGuardi as well as The Fliptones (Britney Spears, Flo-Rida) – who co-wrote and produced its controversial debut single (see box) – Claude Kelly (Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera), Frank E (Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas), The-Dream (Rihanna, Beyonce) and Eman (Whitney Houston, Westlife) who co-wrote and co-produced next single It Girl (September 19). Marsh adds: “Musically it’s moving on and it’s staying commercial – there’s the first two singles but at least three more hits which will take us into summer next year – but everything about Jason is getting better and better. With the first album he exploded onto the writing scene but now he looks sharper, more developed.”
For now, it is a record Derulo cannot wait for people to hear: “I want this to be the beginning of the future. It took a long time for me to get to where I am and I finally reached a point…. this album represents where I wanna go with my life. I’ve reached a point, but have barely scratched the surface of what I want to accomplish in life. I want my music to be able to live and I want my music to be in the history books of the future.”
News Source: Music Week