There are plenty of things we have enough of in this rap game – Auto Tune biters, wanna-be tough guys who couldn’t bust the plastic package grapes come in should they unfortunately become involved in a food fight, wanna-be weirdoes who incessantly quote The Rocky Horror Picture Show and b-list sitcom characters who didn’t get cancelled because they were “above” watchers’ heads but because they sucked, and, last but not least, publicists.
By definition, publicists are supposed to garner more attention for the client they represent. That’s it. Sound simplistic? Yeah. Is it that simple? Not really. They have to send out mass emails, try to leak songs before the artist does, deal with sensitive, sissy know-it-all writers, do mass mailings, set up interviews, etc. Their job may not be a walk in the park but it’s not rocket science either (sidenote – none of this is rocket science, just don’t tell all those egomaniacs that. Yes, hip-hop could function if anyone left the game. Yes, that means you, stupid exec in brand new shoes who is so out of touch with the concrete that they may as well live in the country).
Throughout my almost six years in the game (seems kinda hard to believe) I’ve worked with a lot of talented and worthwhile publicists who are beneficial to the artists they represent like Matt Conaway. Naturally I’ve also come across some pretty trash publicists who couldn’t correctly identify their head from their ass yet have the arrogance of Tiki Barber mixed with Kanye West.
“Help me help you. Help me help you. Help me to help you. Help…me…help…you.” Almost every time I open up a mass emailed press release, Jerry McGuire’s plea to Rod Tidwell crosses my mind. I see these emails come out and while I know it’s too late to fix that certain email, what I do know is that it’s not too late to offer some publicists some free advice in the not-so-subtle hope that they, as Floyd Mayweather would say, step their game up.
Hint #1 – Do not get indignant because you can not keep track of your artist
This problem has happened a lot more than once. The incident that sticks out most in my mind happened a couple years ago when Lil’ Flip’s I Need Mine album was coming out. I agreed to do an interview and was by the phone when I was supposed to be. I waited. And waited. And waited. After sending out emails and phone calls, the only response I got was “he’s running a little late. We’ll be good in 15 minutes.” I got that response every 30 minutes for a good two hours. The only reason I was even still around was because I had other stuff to do so waiting around wasn’t killing my day. Plus it’s not every day you get to talk to a guy that dresses up like a leprechaun not named Charlie Weis. Although both men have very poor decision-making skills.
To make a long story short, it was a Friday afternoon interview and by 4:00 I had enough. It was a nice day out and I was heading out to play some ball. As I was driving to the park, I get a call from someone at Flip’s label. Our conversation went something like this:
“He’s ready for you now.”
“I checked out for the day.”
“You can’t do the interview now?” the lady asks, growing more frustrated. I mean, who wouldn’t wait around all day on a Friday to talk to Flipper?
“I really can’t. If you guys were close to running on time this interview would have been done already.”
“So you don’t want the interview.” This was supposed to be the part where the lady apologizes, saying, “You’re right, we should have been close to being on time and kept sort of true to our word. We can’t control Flip but we’ll do our best and we understand why you may be frustrated.” That would be the point where I say, “Yeah, you’re right. Rappers are weird. No worries.”
However, when you find a publicist who has a bigger ego and sense of importance than the rappers she’s supposed to represent, it kind of turns you off.
This was the part where I was going to insert Terrell Owens’ publicist telling the world after his overdose that “Terrell has $25 million reasons to live.” That didn’t turn too many people off and make you the worst publicist in the history of publicists. I wasn’t able to find that clip after a not-so-aggressive search but I did find this great clip of Terrell Owens. Check the first touchdown and then go to the 2:00 minute mark.
Whatever happened to George Teague anyway?
Hint #2 – Have patience
Yes, I understand that your artist is different from all other artists out there. He’s the most unique, creative artist to ever type his half-witted lyrics into a Sidekick. No one can compare to his self-absorbed gloats of wealth, sexual prowess and methods of drug-dealing that elude the authorities. Simply put no one cam compare to the artist you wrote and his bio comparing him to ‘Pac, Biggie, Jay and Nas Lil’ Wayne is better than the other 50 I’ve gotten in the past. How could I not clear everything I had planned for the priceless opportunity to speak to your prodigy?
Before I go on, let me first say that in my six years at HHG, I’ve been a full-time student for five of those years and am currently finishing up. I can’t just take an interview at 10 pm at night when there’s a test or papers due or lessons to plan. It’s just not that easy.
Back to the lecture at hand. I was supposed to interview N.O.E., the dude in Jim Jones’ Byrdgang. This was way before he was heavily affiliated with him, back in late ’05 or early ’06. For one reason or another something came up and I wasn’t able to do the interview so I had to ask for another time. No big deal, right? I gave enough notice where it shouldn’t have mattered. What happened was I couldn’t do the interview as soon as they wanted it done so they actually sent me an email saying they were “withdrawing their interest for an interview.” Withdrawing their interest. Who says that? I said that was fine. You do the best you can and find out who you can work with and who you can’t and that day as I was driving to the school I was teaching at I learned a lot about that dude’s team. And you’ll notice to this day we’ve never done an interview.
There’s a lot more advice I could dole out to publicists and I’m sure they have more than enough advice for me but that’ll come another time. That’s what she said.