Hitmaker Mark Ronson unveils his "Record Collection"
By Jason Lipshutz
NEW YORK (Billboard) - At the age of 35, Mark Ronson already knows what his epitaph will read. It's not that he's a morbid guy; he's just wryly aware of his musical legacy.
"At the end of the day, it will say 'producer' before it says 'artist,'" says Ronson, who has released two solo albums but is best known for his turntable and production skills. "I was once known as a DJ, and that will stick forever. I will always play in the dance tent at a festival -- it doesn't matter if I start making polka or classical music."
Ronson's flashiest achievements -- his production work with singers Lily Allen and Adele, his 2009 "Britain's best dressed man" trophy courtesy of GQ and the throwback vibe of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," which helped him earn the 2008 Grammy Award for producer of the year -- have pigeonholed him as a stylish DJ who makes stylish, U.K.-friendly beats. The Brooklyn-based artist doesn't care if that perception never changes, but third album "Record Collection," hitting the United States Tuesday (September 28) on RCA Records, is a conscious decision by Ronson to leave his comfort zone.
Gone are the jazzy horn sections and all-Brit collaborators, replaced by futuristic synths, Ghostface Killah verses and Ronson's first foray into singing. The disc is being billed as a work by Mark Ronson and the Business Intl., which refers to a revolving cast of five to seven musicians on the record and tour.
The shifts could ultimately lead to a bigger presence in the United States, where Ronson has yet to make an impact as a solo artist. It wouldn't be the first time he engineers a surprising takeover of the U.S. pop charts.
"I was shocked when (Winehouse's single) 'Rehab' became a hit here," Ronson says, "because I had basically resigned myself to believe that I was never going to make anything that was going to be more than a niche record here. And if something on this record changes that again, great. And if it doesn't, I'll still be thrilled to sell out (New York's) Webster Hall and the El Rey (a small club in Los Angeles)."
Ronson's 2003 debut, "Here Comes the Fuzz," peaked at No. 84 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and has sold 18,000 U.S. copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Elektra Records dropped him two weeks after the album was released -- a move so sudden that Ronson says he had to pay for his own appearance on "The Craig Kilborn Show" during the album's promotional run. Continued...