Book Excerpt: 'What's Up Dawg?'

"Hey, do that again, sweetie," I told her.

She did. I thought to myself, "She's got it. This kid has something." I'm not just saying this because I'm her dad. I listen to everything with the same critical ear that I use when I listen to demos, songs and Idol contestants. Just being able to mimic a song that easily, that exact and correct, is rare at the age of three. That means she has talent.

If you've truly got the gift, singing or playing will come naturally. Your talent will present itself in perfect form and you'll go, "That was kind of easy." It's like shooting baskets. You may shoot four out of five baskets, no problem. Then five out of five. Easy. But if you stand there and miss five out of five over and over, then it's not natural to you … yet.

Being a red carpet regular doesn't guarantee that you have "it"

Celebrities have fans. They have managers, agents and publicists. They've recorded albums. They've made it into People, Rolling Stone or Vibe. But just because they've become celebrities doesn't mean they have "it." Keep in mind that a celebrity is a star by association but isn't someone who necessarily has "it." A lot of the kids who made it into the Top Ten on Idol became celebrities — but they didn't go home with the prize. So if you want to be a celebrity, cool. But it means you still don't have "it."

Most of the one-hit wonders out there probably don't have "it." If you're a one-hit wonder, then a hit song created your success — not you. The song was the "it." And if you look on the list of "it" requirements, a great song is conspicuously absent. So yo, you're asking me: Why wouldn't the song be on the list? A successful song is something that's very nebulous — something you can't always put your finger on. Sometimes a song can rattle the charts, like Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body." Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" featuring Jay-Z. Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." 50 Cent's "In Da Club." Or classics like Michael Jackson's "Beat It." Elvis' "Love Me Tender." The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride."

A great song is a great song is a great song. You can have a hit, but that's no guarantee that you'll have a long career. You can get maybe two or three of your 15 minutes of fame from it. And remember this. It's very hard to have a hit song. If it were that easy, the music industry wouldn't be in trouble right now.

When I was working as a record exec, I can't tell you how many times I heard another exec say, "Randy. Let's go get some hits." Like you could just go to McDonald's and order some hits. You just can't order up hits to go. All the top songwriters try for that unforgettable song. Sometimes they hit and sometimes they miss. So Dawg, if you think you're going to ride your way into fame on a great song, you have to know, that's no easy road, either.

You want to give 'em chills

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