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Breaking Jovanotti

03:01 PM Thursday 10/4/12 | |

A success in his native Italy, Jovanotti is now trying to crack the U.S. market and has even relocated himself and his family to a Greenwich Village apartment. However, the 46-year-old rapper/singer may still have a few miles to go before he’s a household name in America.

Born Lorenzo Cherubini, Jovanotti is hardly a rookie in the music biz. Hooked on rap by Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” when he was only 14, he started out by imitating his heroes in the genre but eventually moved into ballads and pop songs. Now he’s trying to make his mark in the U.S. via club dates supporting his latest compilation – Italia: 1988-2012 – released by ATO in August.

During an interview with The New York Times, Jovanotti said he was trying to introduce his country’s pop music to U.S. audiences.

“You respect Fellini here, you respect Roberto Benigni, you respect Antonioni,” Jovanotti told the paper. “Why is it that Italian pop music is totally off the radar? I just want to break that tradition.”

Apparently Jovanotti is being marketed to an upscale audience. According to the Times, ATO is pushing him to the “food and wine crowd,” including appearances on noncommercial radio stations such as New York’s WFUV and Seattle’s KEXP.

But the singer who is planning a tour of 15 soccer stadiums in Italy next summer isn’t instantly recognizable in the U.S. At least, not the way other one-name stars such as Sting, Bono, Cher, Madonna and Pink are mobbed by fans and paps. What’s more, his anthology album isn’t exactly scaling new heights on the charts. Nielsen SoundScan says it’s sold approximately 1,000 copies in the U.S.

But Jovanotti says he’s learning from his New York experiences, remarking that he’s not in the Big Apple to get rich.

“It’s like tomatoes in Italy,” Jovanotti told the Times. “You cannot have these kinds of tomatoes here. In Whole Foods I can find wonderful tomatoes. But the tomatoes we have in July in Italy? It’s another thing.”

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