Kevin Rudolf

To the Sky

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He may be on the Cash Money label and Lil Wayne, Flo Rida, and Three 6 Mafia may all make appearances on this sophomore effort, but producer/singer/songwriter Kevin Rudolf remains much more pop and rock than hip-hop on To the Sky despite industry packaging. Even dance music seems more important than hip-hop on this often club-oriented album, but the opening “I Made It” is the traditional “I made it” anthem so many rappers use to kick the door down which Rudolf's got on lock, right down to mentioning your record label and quoting your previous hit (“I told ya “Let It Rock”/And now money’s falling down from the sky”). From here the album goes through a few rotations of “made it” songs, heartache songs, and party starters before closing with “Crashing Down,” a rainy day soul searcher that’s so ‘80s-flavored you could pass it off as Mister Mister or Sting right after he went solo. Keeping the tedium at bay is Rudolf’s always dynamic production and his generally good songwriting -- the hackneyed “play guitar”/”go far” rhyme in “Big Timer” being a low point -- along a guest list that calls upon Three 6 Mafia for some much-appreciated sleaze and Lil Wayne for some much-needed wordplay. Rivers Cuomo is here, too, but the Weezer frontman brings none of his usual wit to the rather everyday “Must Be Dreamin’.” A mixed bag for fans to sort through, but without a worthy “Let It Rock” successor, this is hard to recommend over his debut.

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