The first time I met @BillyJohnsonJr he gave me a grilling to make sure I was worthy of being his boss. I was nervous my first day. I knew everyone in the group had interviewed for my job. Billy greeted me warmly with a hug. Right then I knew we were going to be pals. I’m glad it’s remained that way long after we no longer work together. Billy has a great sense of humor and great taste in music.
Location: Santa Clarita, California
Vocation: Music Journalist, Yahoo! Music
1) There are so many ‘mommy bloggers’ they even have their own conferences. As a long time Dad blogger, do you find that Dads coming together is often undervalued?
Lol. Love this question. I definitely think Dads coming together is undervalued. And when I started a personal blog in 2005 (on the now defunct Yahoo! 360), I wrote about a lot of random things, but it was my blogs about fatherhood that got the best response. I have a dry sense of humor so I think people liked the sarcasm about the trouble my then 3-year-old twins were causing. It was great getting feedback from other dads and also reading about the things they were dealing with with their families. I found it affirming and therapeutic.
2) You recently auditioned to have your own show ‘What’s Up, Dad?’ in the Oprah/Kohl’s/Mark Burnett search for “Your Own” Show. What would your show would be about and what the audition process was like?
My “What’s Up, Dad?” show concept is all about fathers coming together. My kids have a couple activities. My daughter is in dance. My son is in Cub Scouts. And they are both a part of a cultural organization called Jack And Jill. Between these activities, walking them to their classrooms everyday, and taking them to birthday parties, I have come in contact with a LOT of fathers who are very active in their kids’ lives. The whole concept of the mother taking the kids to all of their activities does not always apply today.
So the show is about finding dads who are working through particular fatherhood issues and getting them the support they need. So let’s say your wife always combs your daughter’s hair and gets her dressed in the morning. What do you do when she’s out of town and you have to get your daughter ready? “What’s Up, Dad?” can show you an easy hairstyle that a dad can do so that your little girl does not have to walk around looking like Courtney Love or Macy Gray while your wife is away.
What if you’re a dad who wants to get back out on the basketball courts on Saturday mornings with your boys, but now you have small kids at home? Your wife works late and you don’t want leave her with the chore of babysitting early Saturday morning? “What’s Up, Dad?” could introduce you to a father who brings his 4 and 2-year-old kids to the courts with him and show you how he keeps them occupied.
“What’s Up, Dad?” is a much needed survival guide for fathers with a sometimes comedic and sometimes serious tone.
3) Switching gears to your music journalism career- when you only have one question or a few minutes to interview an artist, how do you select which question to ask?
When I only have one question or a limited time to interview someone, I will definitely ask about a main topic of discussion surrounding the artist. But I will try to make it interesting by approaching it from a unique perspective. When I interviewed Kelis a couple weeks ago, they told me that I could ask her about Nas. So I just asked her to explain her song “Emancipate” where she seemed to be venting.
4) How has being a dad helped you formulate questions for other artists who have children?
Even though I’m a parent and I interview a lot of artists with controversial music, I am not inclined to ask them about responsibility per say. But if there is a human interest tie in that relates to their music, I will ask them about that. Again with Kelis, she just had a baby and has a song “A Song For The Baby.” When asking her about that track she explained that she made it because her dad used to sing to her when she was a kid. When Eminem released his first album and talked a lot about his problems with Kim, I asked him if he would ever make a song about his daughter. I told Keri Hilson that my daughter loved the way she sang the word “energy” on her song, and she thought it was interesting that child would articulate such a specific comment about the vocal production of a song. Keri said that I might have a little songwriter on my hands. Lol. For the most part, if I have a question or comment that I think is interesting, if I have enough time, I’m going to go for it. Artists appreciate it because it’s out of the norm and it generally gets them talking about things they don’t normally talk about in interviews.
5) You were very vocal about Chris Brown beating Rihanna and shocked by the audience reaction from attitudes towards it in favor of Chris. Brown recently performed a tribute at the BET Awards to Michael Jackson. Does time heal all wounds? As a parent do you want to see Chris Brown back in the public eye?
I can’t say that time heals all wounds but it does help. I was pretty upset with Chris about the incident. I don’t care if he was provoked or not. He never should have crossed that line. Initially, I didn’t feel any remorse from him. I think the backlash he has experienced has humbled him. He goes from complaining that Wal-Mart is not stocking his CD to asking fans to call radio stations to make him relevant again. Because of the incident he – the one most compared to Michael Jackson – was shut out of all of the tributes. I know that had to hurt and had to make him think about his actions.
So the BET Awards was a great opportunity for him to redeem himself. Some people think his breakdown on stage was fake. But I think it was real. He has been through a lot and he’s only 21. His career took off when he was 15 and he’s had everything since then – one of the hottest female singers as his girlfriend, best award show performances, number one songs, he took some of Usher’s thunder. When you think about it, when an artist with that much momentum eventually falls off, it’s gradual.
But because of his decision, he lost everything overnight. It’s kinda like that Eddie Murphy movie “Trading Places” in that since. So it was culture shock. He had to be scared. So for him to finally get a second chance and to nail it on stage during the anniversary of Michael’s death, and to have the audience receive him so well had to be emotional for him.
I do believe in second changes. Thirds, not so much. Lol.