J.R. Rotem: From Jazz Piano to Mainstream Pop Domination

J.R. Rotem has had an intriguing career in music to say the least. Born in South Africa, Rotem got his start as a renowned jazz pianist, then shifted gears to producing radio friendly pop and rap hits for the likes of Leonna Lewis, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Nicki Minaj. In addition, Rotem runs his own record label, where he and his team discovered and fostered such acts as Jason Derulo, Sean Kingston, and Iyaz. Here, Rotem speaks about his humble industry beginnings, what it’s like to run a record label, and the stories behind his biggest hits. Thanks for chatting with me, J.R. To start off, you attended Berklee College of Music, and stood out by becoming a pretty big time jazz pianist, right? Right. I’d say, objectively speaking, what made me stand out is that I learned jazz pretty quickly. Prior to Berklee, I had a lot of classical piano training, so that’s really what I did mostly. I was also into composing with keyboards, and when I went to Berklee after high school, I wanted to study film scoring. However when I got there, right off the bat I found wasn’t into the film scoring; I took some…

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