Yo Kangol!: Alicia Key’s Secret Weapon Plus Your Questions!

Welcome to my new advice column, which is designed to guide the misguided aspiring artists and/or future entertainment moguls.  Twice a month Ima hit you with industry knowledge, wisdom… and if you’re hard-headed… I might have to hit you with a written ass-whoopin’.    Why my low tolerance you ask?    Simply put, the industry […]

Welcome to my new advice column, which is designed to guide the misguided aspiring artists and/or future entertainment moguls.  Twice a month Ima hit you with industry knowledge, wisdom… and if you’re hard-headed… I might have to hit you with a written ass-whoopin’. 


Why my low tolerance you ask? 


Simply put, the industry has changed and a lot of y’all haven’t gotten the memo. 


Not to mention, there are things that haven’t changed, and yet you all pretend some new law was written.  Well, that stops today.


This “Yo Kangol” column will introduce you to the people you should know as well as the questions you should ask. Anyway, you ready?  Aiight, Let us begin.


Allow me to introduce one of the key playaz in the game today.This dude is the glue that holds Alicia Key’s camp of artists, musicians and writers together. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for my dude, Mr. G. Flowers

YK:  How did you get started in this business?


GF:  I started as a musician.  I’ve played the guitar since the young age of 7 with my older brother who played the keyboards and bass, and my younger brother who plays the drums. 


We performed together throughout our school years covering Top 40 songs and other genres of music.  Also, my father and grandfather played guitar, so music was imbedded in us.  Years later I became the manager for my brothers and partnered with my account Bert Padell who intentionally gave me a desk in a hallway. 


He said in two months I would thank him for placing my desk there.  He was right.  That placement allowed me to meet everyone I needed to meet which led me to meet Alicia’s manager Jeff Robinson and later my brothers and I became her band


YK:  What advice would you give to someone who is as talented as you and are trying to get recognized?



GF:  It’s a totally different business now.  The days of walking in a demo tape are over because of the internet.  Some artists think it’s all about having a page up.  There’s more to it.  You can have a myspace page but if people don’t know where to find you…they’re not gonna come looking for you.  You have to promote and market yourself.  My motto is: “Build your fan, one fan at a time.  Be passionate…love what you do and the money will come.” 



YK:  Do you suggest to that those promoting on myspace copyright their material?



GF:  You should always copyright your songs.  For those that can’t afford the proper way, there’s the poor man’s copyright in which you mail the song to yourself and never open the package.  There is nothing you can do if someone steals your song which was never copyrighted.



YK:  Do these artists need management of the top or should they wait?



GF:   It’s always great to have a team together of people that care about you.  Find someone who cares about you First…as a person, then build, grow and stay with them.  Some of the most successful artists have been with their managers from the beginning.



YK:  What is the standard percentage rate for a manager?



GF:   The standard percentage rate is 20%.  I’ve seen some try 25% …but 20% is standard.


YK:  What overall advice would you give to everyone trying to do what we’re doing?

GF:   Just stay true to yourself and true to your craft.  Cross your T’s, dot you I’s before you address a cat like me.  If you’re not ready, I’ll give you constructive criticism but others will not give you a second chance.  So take your time and do it right.  I would never tell someone to stop perusing their dreams.



YK:  If someone out there believes that they’re ready to see you, how can they reach you?



GF:  They can email their mp3s or links to gflowers@mbkentertainment.com  and though it may take me two weeks to a month to get back to you…I listen to everything.  If you want the truth…talk to me.  I’m not a dream-killer but I’ma give you the truth…and that’s what it is.

And now onto the readers:


YO Kangol, as a new artist, what are some common misconceptions that you or other new artists may have or will run into??

Terry J. Orlando, Fl


Yo Terry, One of the biggest misconceptions for new artists is their need to ignore the word “Business”.  This is exactly what it’s called…The Music Business.  Allow me to me introduce you to the real world of CNN. 


As an artist you become a product and your name becomes a brand.  As an individual, you also become an employer while your homies (your hypeman, road manager, security, dancers….and those other ten dudes that do nothing) become employees.  The check that pays them will have your name on it in bold print.  That makes YOU a Company.  You will experience greater success the minute you realize that you are not just a rapper…You’re a Businessman.




Yo Kangol, For a bunch a dudes starting at the bottom with no money and just tryin’ to get the material out there, do you think it’s fair for someone to draw up a contract along the lines of “no matter what the track or album does monetarily at this stage, everybody pitched in their part without thinking of any financial gain? 


So there should be no financial gain initially, up until a major deal has struck.”?  I’m a writer and I write for other artists. This R&B singer is going to use one of my songs for his projects. We all at the ground level starting out. I’m not looking for any compensation b/c we all tryin’ to make it together. but yo, if there was a major deal to be struck best believe imma be like “wassup?” from that point on, not for previous efforts.

Geno, VA Beach, VA


Yo Geno, The worst thing that can happen to you right now is this project blows up and you find yourself spending all the money you ain’t got, on legal fees in an attempt to get all the money you should have had.  In other words, draw up a contract now.  Think of this as your prenuptial agreement.  If the project makes No money – then there’s No Beef.  If the project makes Big Money – then there’s No Questions. 


The same applies for your work with the R&B singer.  Come to an understanding and put that understanding in writing, get it notarized and this will prevent you and your boys from starring in the next series of BEEF.




Yo Kangol, I’m tired of hearing all these terrible artists on the radio… I would like to become an A&R in the industry to give people with actual talent a chance… How would I go about doing that? 

Young Chris, Sacramento, Ca.


Yo Chris, Becoming an A&R Director is all about your reputation as someone who has the ability to know what the people want to hear by way of being a producer of several hit records, a popular DJ known for keeping a party rockin’ or a seasoned individual who has been part of a successful music machine/production team which has earned credibility, again through their success of hit songs.  There is no A&R school.  Your degree comes as you “show and prove”.  Though I agree that there are a lot of whack songs out there…those songs become hit songs and the A&R director responsible for picking that piece of sh*t…still has a job … and that whack song just made him or her a better A&R director because once again, he or she showed and proved that he or she could pick a hit. 


You gotta understand something:  There’s a difference between a Great song and a Hit song.  “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston is a Great song.  “Whoop, There It Is” by Tag Team is a Hit song.  Publishing companies want Great songs while Record Companies want Hit songs. Can you pick a whack-cheesy Hit song??? Think about it.  Could you separate yourself from what you like and sign a cheesy artist with a whack song with some new Latin-Country/Hip-Hop Macarena Dance???  Honestly, the average person probably wouldn’t.  As my animated commercial dude Chester Cheetos would say… “It ain’t Easy being Cheesy”.




That’s pretty much all the time I got right now but please comment below and let know what you think about this column.  I gotta get back to making preparations for my 25th year anniversary celebration.  That’s right.  Twenty-five years of entertainment, wisdom and knowledge is blessing this column.  If you’re in the New York area on October 1, 2008, please come celebrate it with me.  If you’re not – No Problem b/c in 2009 I’m bringing the party to you in ATL, Miami and LA.   http://www.myspace.com/kangol25th


Until then, Send your questions to: yokangol@gmail.com and don’t forget to include your name and the city & state you’re from.  I look forward to giving you what I wish I had…GUIDANCE.