“I’ve learned to PRAY hard, and WORK hard. Overcoming fear, of ANYTHING. You have to be fearless in this game.” – @CKGTHEDON

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Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW C.K.G
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
The music business is just that…
“MUSIC” and “Business”, and they are two TOTALLY separate things. I think they get in the way of each other. When you aren’t “IN” the business, you don’t know how the “BUSINESS” works. So, people are just creating great music, but that’s not always what they are looking for “BUSINESS” wise, unless you have a buzz already so, I have a love/hate feeling about the music business. But I’d rather die than not do music. It’s in me.

What pros and cons have you experienced…
Early on, I dealt with having people in my corner that I thought had my best interest all around, but just were trying to take money from me. I learned that NO ONE will care about you more than YOU, so you have to READ, you have to LEARN, you have to ASK questions, etc.I also learned that you have to separate your FEELINGS when it comes to BUSINESS. At the end of the day, these companies don’t care about anything but making MONEY, so, if you can’t make them money, your feelings don’t really matter to them. That’s why you have to have an understanding of things before you get in the BUSINESS of things.

As for PRO’S, I’ve learned that you can make nice money off of music by licensing. My most licensed song, “Bump Bump”, I actually recorded at my mothers house in Chicago, a few years back, and I didn’t have HALF The equipment or know how I have now, I just know how to make great records.

Hurdles and pitfalls…
I’m overcoming the hurdles and pitfalls by READING and LEARNING. I know it may sound cliche’, but you really have to READ and have KNOWLEDGE, that really is the key. I’ve learned to PRAY hard, and WORK hard. Overcoming fear, of ANYTHING. You have to be fearless in this game. I always ask questions and I never sign anything unless I understand it 100%. In addition to that, I make sure I place myself with like-minded people.

Social media…
I like the fact that you can reach the fans INSTANTLY. You don’t have to wait for a release date, etc. No politics, if you have something to say or show, you just post it! Social media is the best form of promotion right now. At the same time, it can hurt you if used the wrong way.

I’m “STILL” trying to overcome the challenges of the Independent artist…
I’ve won an LA Music Award, I’ve appeared on tv shows from Fox’s Empire, ABC’s Mind Games, House Of Cards on Netflix, NBC’s Chicago Fire etc, I’ve had music licensed WORLDWIDE etc, I have Grammy award winners and nominees giving me praise etc, yet my name doesn’t ring bells like I feel it should. I know a LOT of big names, but it seems that people are afraid to Co-Sign you, until somebody who’s “SOMEBODY” does first. So, that’s the hard part. When you aren’t where EVERYONE else is all the time, people tend to overlook you.

Singles vs an album…
With singles, it’s easier to promote ONE song as opposed to an ENTIRE album. People are fickle with money these days. It’s easier to get someone to spend 99 cents as opposed to 10 or 15 dollars for the entire album, at least for an independent artist. All people do now, with Itunes, really, unless they are REALLY into the artist, they buy the song they LIKE. So, I feel like with singles, you can put them out one at a time, depending on the climate you make them, and make an impact. You don’t have to WAIT and build up anticipation for an album release.

I have a single that’s doing well in Australia. A “single”. I’ve seen VARIOUS people online talk about they are on there “THIRD” mixtape, DOUBLE CD album or what have you, and they have about 24 songs on each disc. Nobody has that kind of attention span to listen to an artist that is NOT established yet. So, they tweet, etc, about how people don’t know the songs they have but, they have WAYYYYY too many songs, too much filler, as opposed to having a “Single”, a def. radio/club record and focus all the energy they have on THAT, they are losing and nothing is happening. But a lot of people online know MY songs, because I push one song at a time for a few months, then on to the next one, so, that TITLE, that SONG, “stays” in peoples minds because that’s all they hear, as opposed to hearing 24 songs and having to PICK.

There definitely is an emphasis on trends with the labels…
Kids nowadays want a deal, but even the artists from early 2000’s that are trying to come back, as well as people that are new today, all the labels say is, “how many followers do you have?”, as opposed to “I love the music, let’s develop you as an artist”. There isn’t any artist development anymore. At least with hip hop. That’s why a lot of these artists come & go in a year, and they make it bad for REAL artists because the labels out here want you to follow the trends, so they can make money. So, I try to balance keeping up with today’s sound, mixing it with what I already do, my style and sound, and that’s how I keep my balance. I’ve always been ahead of the game though. I remember one Grammy award winner liking one of my songs saying, “it sounds like whats hot today….”, but I did the song 5 years ago. Smh.

I started out in a rap group, in Chicago, back in the late 90’s…
After that group broke apart and after me leaving a clique of people where I was writing and producing etc and NOT getting my credit, paid,etc, I left in 2007. Started from the bottom, BROKE, taught myself the piano, worked two jobs, purchased equipment etc, and my SOLO career, basically started from there. I remember being little, seeing the video “You Gotz To Chill” by EPMD and that’s when I “KNEW” I wanted to do music. When I got old enough and SERIOUS about it, I was inspired by Biggie, 2pac, Nas, Big L, etc. Those guys and Eminem, DMX, Dj Quik, Ice Cube etc,
they really inspired me lyrically. And production and writing wise, Dr.Dre, Timbaland, DeVante Swing, Dj Quik, Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins, Prince, R.Kelly etc.

I Still Want You…
The song was made to shop first, then with the idea of getting it placed in Tv Shows, Movies etc, for licensing purposes. I knew I needed new material and I do a lot of music licensing, so, I thought of an Idea, instead of the usual “guy going after the girl” story, i flipped it where the girl is saying after all this time of knowing each other as just friends, that she wants me, even though she has a guy. I actually recorded it at my home studio on the west coast. I live out west now. I actually, before my idea for using it for licensing, I made it with the though of shopping it to like,a Pitbull or a Flo-Rida.

I sent it off to a few people that claimed to have connections with the people I had an idea of shopping it to. They didn’t see the vision, so, I needed new licensing material so, I did the song. These same people asked me for songs as an artist, I sent that song, and they were like, “man, we need songs like that”. LOL. I’m like, “I SENT you this EXACT song and you didn’t like it!” lol

The music I create is diverse, funny, but has a message…

I’m from the streets, but I’m smart. That’s why I always admired Nas. I saw a lot of myself in him. But i’m also very whitty, which is why I love Biggie and Eminem etc. So, when people hear my music, I want them to enjoy the QUALITY, even if it’s a party record, I still say hot slick lines so, if it is a quote unquote “fluff” song, it still has lyrical content.

My album, WHENEVER it drops, (I’m talking to a few diff. labels now) will be called “The Replacement”. I’ve had that title for YEARS. Music, especially hip hop, has changed, and a lot of music is getting praise now that shouldn’t. I want the album “I” put out, to show that “THIS” is the type of music that should be getting praised, not whats popular at “radio” now.

I’m from Chicago…

The music scene there is very grimy and gritty. I’ve been on the west coast now for a year and the music scene is different. Chicago isn’t as bright and nice looking all over like it is out here on the west, and I think the music reflects that. I was able to travel around the USA at an early age so, I got to see a lot of different cultures and things of that nature so, my music has always grabbed from all over, this is why my music is so universal.

Def you have to go to Sharks Chicken & Wings. Also, Harolds is a staple there also. A lot of people give Harolds Chicken top billing but, I like Sharks Chicken & Wings. Also, in the wild 100’s, you have to go to “The Hoagy Shop”, but I think I heard it just closed. I’m not sure. Chucks Pizza on the southside of Chicago has the best pizza to me. Downtown, state street, a lot of good shopping around there, etc. For the “HOOD” spots, you have to hit up the streets of 47th to get the deals on shoes, clothes etc.

I like to go to the arcades like “Dave & Busters” or “Gameworks”, things of that nature. I like playing video games at home, but I really like the bigger games so I can play basketball or air hockey etc.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
Without a doubt, Timbaland. He’s my favorite producer. He’s worked with all of my favorite artists and producers and I know I could learn a LOT from him, AND he’d probably sign me if we met! lol.

I admire him because he came up with some of the greats, Jodeci, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Ginuwine, etc.He worked under one of my other fav. producer/writers (DeVante Swing) and he’s still here. After ALL these years, he’s still here. I know I could learn more from him that a lot of people. I admire his sound and style.

I am most afraid of…
FAILURE. I don’t like to lose at ANYTHING. I’m a go getter, I’m a grinder, I go after what I want. I know I have A “lot” of people doubting me, from the industry to “family & friends”, a lot of people count me out and I can’t prove them right so, i have to succeed and not FAIL.

My personal definition of success is..
My personal definition of success is getting paid to do what you love. NOTHING can beat that. So many people punch a clock and hate the job they have. What better feeling in the world could it be, other than waking up and doing what you LOVE and being able to LIVE off that? NOTHING. I love music.

My over all goal for my life & career is…
My overall goal for my life & career is to make sure, if I ever have a kid or kids, that they are set to where if they have a dream, I’ll have the money for them to start it up with. They won’t have to punch a clock for someone else if they don’t want to. I own my own production company and my own publishing company. Publishing is FOREVER, so when I die, it can be passed down.

3 Ways that I challenge myself and how each one moves me forward towards my goal.
1) Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone
2) Balancing my work ethics
3) Learning
Each one of these things help the other. I always try to do different things. I never want to be a one dimensional artist, producer or writer. I always try to spread out my time, from working on new material to networking, and by READING and LEARNING the things I need to, that will keep me ahead of the game.

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