Rotem was born in South Africa to Israeli immigrant parents. He moved to Toronto at the age of two and finally to Moraga, California when he was twelve.
Rotem's entry point into music was in receiving classical piano instruction at a young age. When he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston it was initially with the intention of studying film scoring, but he ended up majoring in jazz composition.
As his first major label placement, the Destiny's Child song "Fancy", from their 2001 album Survivor, is cited by Rotem as being his first 'big break', and the song that convinced the young producer that it was worth pursuing this career path. Nevertheless, further success was not forthcoming and for years Rotem struggled to make further headway in the industry.
A significant breakthrough came when, through mutual friend Evan Bogart, he managed to attract the attention of manager Zach Katz, a former music attorney who had previously represented rapper Rakim as well as various producers and songwriters in the Aftermath/Shady/G-Unit camp. Rotem says, "One of my biggest goals for years was meeting a manager with a good reputation and with connections to get my music to people." When asked in an interview with HitQuarters what made Katz decide to take the producer on, he said,
"This was a time where most of the people were beat makers, they didn't really play instruments. JR on the other hand, had a vast musical background ... So musically there were no limitations as far as what he could bring. Number two J.R he was very, very focused. He really wanted to win. And number three he was humble. If I gave him any suggestions about his tracks he would literally sit there and take notes. Then he would come back the next day with the changes I had suggested."
Rotem's next major cut was 50 Cent's "Position of Power" in 2005. In 2006, together with Katz and his brother Tommy, Rotem started his own record label, Beluga Heights, inking a joint venture partnership with Epic. Sean Kingston, a young Miami-based artist, was the labels first signing. Kingston's self-titled debut album went on to sell over 2 million albums and 10 million singles worldwide. Rotem also started a publishing company under the Beluga Heights umbrella, signing "SOS" co-writer Evan "Kidd" Bogart. Under a newly formed joint venture with Warner Bros. Records, the label signed pop sensation Jason Derülo, whose debut album went on to sell 14 million singles and over 1 million albums worldwide.
In 2009, Rotem was honored as BMI Producer of the Year. In 2011 he was again honored by BMI as Songwriter of the Year alongside Lady Gaga and Derülo. His trademark is a horn that follows with a stylised "J-J-J-J-J-R" and/or "Beluga Heights" at the start or end of records with which he has been affiliated.
Full Name at Birth
Jonathan Reuven Rotem
The White Dr. Dre
Date of Birth
Record producer and songwriter
Claim to Fame
wrote the song Fancy for Destiny's Child