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Rodney Jerkins

Dream The Impossible Dream


In this episode

Rodney Jerkins is one of the most successful music producers of all time – he has worked with some of the greatest artists of our time, including Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and many more.

He has been nominated for 18 Grammy Awards and has won 2 – for the Record of the Year and Best R&B song. He is also an incredible songwriter and musician. His journey to excellence is incredible so tune in to hear more!

(00:00) Rodney’s background

  • Born in Pomona, New Jersey (Dad was a pastor, mom a housekeeper)
  • Rodney is the fourth child
  • His mom was very sick while pregnant with him
  • Mom worked for wealthy families
  • Listening to rap music in secret
  • At 10, he decided to be a producer
  • At 13, started making and selling songs to local artists
  • Dad became his manager
  • Rodney was forced to play the piano

(10:52) Never stop dreaming, never stop believing

  • At 11, he started working and saving for Akai MPC 60
  • Went with his dad to a seller
  • Rodney copied the manual and read it every day (Rodney's dad realized his talent and broke his insurance policy to and bought him a machine)
  • The visit to Toledo, Ohio that changed Rodney's life forever
  • Rodney was blown away and inspired
  • Never stop dreaming, never stop believing
  • As a child, Rodney wanted to work with Michael Jackson
  • Dream the impossible dream
  • 40-day family road trip

(27:20) From washing dishes to working with James Jones

  • Saving to buy the equipment
  • At 10, he asked for a job at local dinner (washing dishes)
  • Went to a mall and asked for a job at Foot Locker (Dug Smith let him stock the shelves)
  • At 15, went to Manhattan
  • James Jones from Uptown records (Rodney sent him a tape with a letter – James LOVED the music)
  • James Jones calls him to come to New York and work with him
  • At 16, dropped out of school and went to New York (Rodney's dad allowed him to go after his dreams)

(38:42) The biggest deal is not always the best deal

  • At 17, offered a 1.8 million dollars contract from EMI
  • At the same time, a 2.2 million dollar offer from Sony
  • Closed the deal with Brian Jackson (bigger money doesn’t mean a better deal)
  • Rodney bought his mother a car and a house for his parents at 17 years old
  • Wanted to be a blessing to them
  • The story about Randall’s grandmother

(50:04) Strike while the iron is hot

  • Doing local demos in South Jersey
  • A group hired him to make a demo for the Impact music convention (playing music for Teddy Riley)
  • Drove 6 hours to Future Recording Studios in Virginia Beach
  • Invitation to come and learn during the summer
  • The internship is very important for success
  • Having interns and giving them a chance
  • The right mentor is essential
  • Randall’s experience with interns
  • Advice to interns

Sandee | Bliss: Beaches

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