Rotimi’s “In My Bed” has a couple different meanings. As he sings, there’s a meeting in his bedroom — specifically in his bed — so during quarantine, this could mean something innocent, like he’s on a Zoom daily check-in. Or it could mean something a little more provocative, of course. The 31-year-old singer and actor, most famous for his role as Dre on Starz’s hit series Power, tells MTV News over the phone that right now, during the age of social isolation, the song has two age-specific meanings.
“I think the PG version of it is that everybody’s working, you know, actually attending virtual meetings and having conference calls,” he says. “But the R-rated version of this is that there are going to be a lot of December, January, and February babies.”
Since releasing his debut project, The Resume, in 2011, the New Jersey native has pulled off a tightrope creative act: He’s released four mixtapes and three EPs, all while starring in movies like Divergent, Acts of Violence, and more (he’s also set to appear in Coming 2 America later this year). Even with so much on his plate over the years, his true arrival feels like now. The EP that Rotimi released last summer, Walk With Me, has amassed more than 80 million streams and spawned his breakout song, “Love Riddim,” that has 18 million views on YouTube.
Now, Rotimi’s “In My Bed,” which features Wale, is on track to surpass his last hit and become the de facto stay-at-home anthem for alluring assemblies. A new acoustic version of it is part of Unplugged Sessions, his newest EP, out today (April 17). Rotimi spoke to MTV News about the song’s creation and how its meaning has evolved since the coronavirus pandemic has found plenty of people at home with partners participating in, um, “meetings.”
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
MTV News: How are you doing during this quarantine?
Rotimi: Man, I'm binge-watching everything that I've always wanted to see. Also, early in the quarantine, I took one day to basically use the studio that I just built, and we made a whole unplugged acoustic EP that’s just organic, man. It’s music that I always wanted to make, and I wanted to just give something to my fans that will hold them over until this quarantine's over.
MTV News: What was the decision like to record an acoustic project? I feel like we don’t see that as much anymore.
Rotimi: I wanted to show people my vocals and what I can really do. I think that a voice sounds best over a guitar, so I wanted to basically explore that. Also, I wanted to just give people pure, feel-good music that the world really needs right now.
MTV News: You released your first project, The Resume, in 2011. How would you say your approach to music has evolved since then?
Rotimi: Well, I don't have to sneak into studios anymore. That's No. 1. But you know, when you're putting in 10,000 hours, you get to a place where you’re still a student, but also a master of your class. The Resume did super well for me when I was in Chicago because it gave me a lot of confidence to keep doing what I'm doing now. Now, the world is my platform.
MTV News: “In My Bed” comes from your latest project, The Beauty of Becoming. How does that body of work play into this journey so far?
Rotimi: It’s another part of my evolution, you know, just me growing up as an artist and making it to the next level. Just even taking "Love Riddim," for example, and putting Akon on the remix of that, it shows how I continue to grow. The same with "In My Bed.” I'm really proud of that because, vocally, it puts me in my own lane of pop, R&B, and Afrobeats. I don’t think that anyone else is doing that.
MTV News: How did "In My Bed" come about?
Rotimi: Harmony Samuels, who produced "Love Riddim,” hit me up one day and said, “Bro, I have the perfect sample for you.” He sang me some of the hook over the phone, and it was just infectious at that point. As soon as I got to Los Angeles, we made three or four records that night and the last record we did was “In My Bed.” We knew that we had something special and brought it to the label who loved it. They wondered who would be featured on it and everyone on my team instantly thought of Wale. I called my Nigerian brother and we knocked it out. He sent it back the next day and it was a wrap.
MTV News: What's it going to feel like in nine months when everybody cites this song as being the one that brought them their next child?
Rotimi: If they put me in those classic Luther and Usher conversations for baby-making music, I think that every R&B artist would want that.
MTV News. With this pandemic possibly extending quarantine and potentially changing how we interact with artists and pop culture, how do you, as an artist, plan on maneuvering through these strange times?
Rotimi: You know, you have to be creative as an artist, man. You got to let people know that you really do this. And that's why I wanted to make Unplugged Sessions, where it's just me and a guitar. These are the moments that people are going to remember and the true artists are going to be able to survive. And I think that I'm one of them.