‘Power’s’ Dre — real name Rotimi — is also a music man
The singer-actor loves Instagram — and baring his soul
Singer Rotimi’s new eight-song EP Jeep Music, Vol. 1 (G-Unit/EMPIRE, released Aug. 4), has been making waves — but you probably know the 28-year-old Nigerian-American New Jersey native as drug-dealing antihero Dre Coleman on Starz’s hit show Power. Despite his high-profile role, Rotimi says he just sort of fell into acting. “I’d just graduated from Northwestern University, and I was touring and performing at different colleges. My manager said, ‘Yo, we need more money. Maybe you should try getting another commercial, or print modeling or something, and see how it goes.’ ”
It clearly went well, but his heart is still deeply in music. He’s performed on stage with T.I. and with 50 Cent (executive producer of Power and co-founder of G-Unit Records), who both appear on the track “Nobody,” and Rotimi is currently touring nationwide with singer/songwriter August Alsina on his Don’t Matter Tour, which wraps this weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia.
We caught up with Rotimi to discuss his new music (of course), Instagram and the greatness of Michael Jordan.
Who was your childhood hero?
My dad. I wanted to make my dad happy all the time. Whenever I’d do something really dope, he would kind of reward me, [with] like, basketball games or music. I was just trying to get my pops to be proud.
What’s your favorite social media spot?
I like Instagram. It allows me to be funny, silly, write cool captions — but also kind of be nosy and see what other people are doing.
What’s the last show you binged?
American Crime. I’m on season two right now. It’s so good.
Your favorite athlete of all time?
Michael Jordan. He taught me early on what greatness was. How amazing it was. How it captured audiences. Love him or hate him, he’s great. It was a cool thing to see as a kid.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
I always go over everything with my dancers, talk to my DJ, and we pray. I play the show in my head and pray that it goes well and that everything that I want to convey is shown.
What about a guilty pleasure?
I watched a couple episodes of Real Housewives of Atlanta. At first I was like, I ain’t watching this, but then I was like, ‘OK, this is interesting, when’s the next one come out?’ I was like, ‘Daaang, he went to jail?’ It’s a good show. I was tryna hate, but I can’t.
Favorite throwback TV show?
Definitely The Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air].
What’s the first concert you ever went to?
Damian Marley. I grew up listening to a lot of Bob Marley. My dad was a huge Bob Marley fan. It played a lot in my house. Damian Marley came to Jersey and performed at this festival in the park, and I remember going with Dad. I was around 11.
Who’s the most famous person following you on Instagram?
What’s the craziest lie you ever told?
That I played basketball overseas. That I was a ballplayer from Greece.
Did they believe it?
They believed that s—.
What’s the last stamp on your passport?
London, we had a show. I performed at The O2 Arena with 50 [Cent]. We did that; it was really cool.
What’s one place you’re dying to visit?
I wanna go to Dubai. I want to see that for myself, how man built something like that.
Tell me more about your new music.
Being that I’m a new ‘celebrity,’ I [was in] a really, really tough relationship. People call Jeep Music a project, but really it’s just me expressing myself musically. It’s a time capsule of when I met her — and how it ended. It explains exactly the stories we went through. She was known to have this white Jeep in Jersey, so I used it as a metaphor. It’s really not a project … it’s really me. People need to hear the story of what happened and how it affected me and how it affected her. It’s a story.
Are we going to hear any of your music on Power?
Not this season. I was so busy creating the project that I didn’t want to rush any of it.
What would you tell your 15-year-old self?
That you’re going to grow up and be a baaad m—–f—–. I would tell him to definitely keep playing the piano. It’ll change your life if you keep doing it. And always be true to yourself — continue to be true to yourself.
What will you always be the champion of?
I will always be the champion of my destiny.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.