Kevin Rudolf

In the City

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Sold as a rap/rock/pop triple threat with massive crossover potential, Kevin Rudolf is actually less hip-hop than Kid Rock, Fergie, and maybe even Gwen Stefani. Even if the rap bit is oversold, this hip-pop-rock kid who performs, writes, and produces is keenly aware of how much urban music flavor the pop music genre had absorbed since the millennium turned. He loves a guitar crunch and there are too many fist-raising rock anthems on his debut album to call this rap/rock/pop in equal shares, but when superstar rapper, Rudolf advocate, and Cash Money label boss Lil Wayne shows up, In the City becomes an album for the second MTV generation. Suburban kids living with their multi-genre MP3 players on shuffle and digging heavily on that Linkin Park/Jay-Z mash-up will find Rudolf and Wayne's "Let It Rock" a near-perfect highlight, agreeing with other declared fans of the fist-pumper like Lindsay Lohan and Ryan Seacrest (Chuck D and the RZA are mum on the issue). "Welcome to the World," with Rick Ross, once again skillfully puts the hip-hopper on top of pop-metal, but when the grit of hood life is explored on the awfully shallow "N.Y.C.," clich├ęs that could have come out of Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry squash any hopes of street-cred ("In the city of dreams/You get caught up in the schemes/And fall apart at the seams"). Rudolf's lyrics may be cringe-worthy through the plentiful filler, but his giant pop/rock productions make the songs sound alive and much more vital than they should. Take it as the great "Let It Rock" surrounded by so-so filler or the slickest demo reel ever sold, In the City gets by on hooks and hugeness, like an irony-free Andrew W.K., Timbaland working with Aerosmith, or a jaded version of the Jonas Brothers now willing to drop the F-bomb.

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