Jason Derulo is comfortable trusting his instincts. They haven’t failed him yet.
When remixing his latest mega hit, “Swalla,” Derulo allowed the process to evolve naturally. This included a decision to request that Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, who appear on the original version, revisit for the grown-and-sexy redo.
“Initially, I was going to do it by myself,” says the singer, who has 12 platinum and gold hits to his credit (including “Whatcha Say,” “Talk Dirty,” and “Want to Want Me”). “I was in the studio with my keyboardist. We just started playing around, and then it turned out to be really special. I was like, ‘F*** it. Let me send it to Nicki and Ty.’ They both flipped out, and we had both of their verses in the next two days.”
The stripped-down, Caribbean-style rendition offers something different for each of the featured artists — especially Minaj, who raved about the new version in an Instagram post.
Derulo was equally free when shooting the colorful, erotic music video for the song, which currently has 240 million plays. Produced by Ricky Reed — who also helmed the Derulo smashes “Talk Dirty,” “Wiggle,” and “Get Ugly” — the clip features a nude woman being covered with paint, plus a tricky dance scene that takes place in a pool of water.
When asked about the model wearing her birthday suit, Derulo takes a bit of a bashful tone. “Yes, she was nude,” he affirms. “She was really cool. I mean, she’s obviously comfortable with nudity. I’m guessing she probably [has performed nude] before, so she wasn’t tripping. But it was cool, very artistic.”
Dancing in a pool wasn’t as easy. “Certain things we couldn’t even do with the water, because it was so slippery. I almost died trying to do this one move in that water,” says Derulo, who’s no stranger to dangerous dance routines (in 2012, he fractured his neck and was nearly paralyzed when practicing an acrobatic trick during a tour rehearsal.)
Derulo’s risk-taking tendencies aren’t limited to just videos and performance. On the business side, he’s launched a clothing line, LVL XIII; has invested in the Rumble boxing-style fitness program; and taken on a music protégé, rising rap star Movi3, who recently premiered the song “Need a Bag.”
“Now that I’ve been through the wringer and I’ve done everything, I can help out,” Derulo explains. “I can really help avoid so, so many stresses that I had to go through in somebody else’s career. Movi3 is definitely somebody that is bubbling and starting to do things on his own.”
This summer will mark the eighth anniversary of Derulo arrival on the pop scene, debuting with his breakthrough hit “Whatcha Say.” In that music video, he was more of the shy, boy-next-door persona, compared to the ab-baring, pelvis-throbbing sex symbol that he is today.
The memory of the “Whatcha Say” video makes Derulo laugh. “I was a kid,” he says. “I was just kinda thrown into stardom. I was just going on the main stage, and that’s always difficult, especially having no guidance or answers.
“But it is different now. I’m a grown man now. I am 27 years old, and I’ve gone through every single thing possible. And my greatest blessing is that I managed to just be myself.”