BET’s Kelly G Producing All the Right Beats

BET executive Kelly G has the music programming at the network hot./Photo provided courtesy of The FrontPage.

By Dennis J. Freeman

It’s all about the music for Black Entertainment Television (BET) executive Kelly “Kelly G” Griffin.  Having an ear for trending music is Griffin’s expertise. Finding new artists who can produce great music is his playground.

One day, you might see Griffin at a hot nightclub in Miami looking for fresh talent. He could be at a monthly showcase in New York doing the same thing. On another day, Griffin might find himself scouring the local hubs in Los Angeles to see whether or not he can land the next urban star.

 As senior director of music programming at BET, Kelly G is immersed with the latest hip hop and R&B tunes all day, all night. He oversees which music videos gets played on BET and has spent countless hours developing the network’s expansive music library. Feeling the pulse of the urban market is what he does. It’s what he knows.

From the path he’s already blazed since coming to BET in 1999, Griffin has set a standard in that arena few have matched, boosting the careers of countless artists such as Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Trey Songz. A large part in the way Griffin has been able to do that is being the man in charge of some of BET’s most influential shows, including Rap City, 106 & Park and the BET Awards.   

 What he loves the most, however, is finding that untapped talent and help create the next Kanye West. Last year, Griffin and BET embarked on an innovative ride to bring fresh new talent to the entertainment landscape by introducing Music Matters, a national talent showcase that will land them the next West or another upcoming Drake.  

“It’s our responsibility to create those outlets,” Griffin said. “It’s been amazing. We’ve got great talent. The main thing we look for is something special. We want to be able to highlight something special, just something about that artist; the way they sing, the way they play and the way they write. I want to create the next Prince. I want to create the next Michael Jackson. I want to create the next Stevie Wonder, the next Jay-Z, people who have a brand that have been around for a while.”  

When it comes to branding, BET has set its own course by ruling network cable television for decades with its conglomerate of music videos. Those videos bring the artist to their fans, and have spawned a generation of hit makers and top musical acts. Some of those videos have also pushed moral and ethical boundaries, according to critics.   

Of course, by being in charge of what type of programming is seen on BET, Griffin finds himself in a prime place to be ripped by those same critics. Many critics believe the network has catered to the lowest common stereotypes of African Americans by what has been put on the air.

Griffin and BET has received their fair share of criticism in recent years from those who think the network has gone overboard with raunchy video shows such as Uncut, and producing listless and uncreative programming. With TV One and Centric Network becoming viable alternatives for the African American viewing audience, BET has stepped up its game in creating a more diverse formula to attract viewers.

It had no choice.

As those other stations began to progress and catch footing with the viewing audience by producing original programming to watch, BET retooled its lineup plate. As a result, Griffin and BET has seen an uptick in viewers, thanks to BET Live, BET Access Granted, the hugely popular BET Awards and introducing movies and variety shows.   

Griffin said BET has made great strides to shed its video monarchy label.

 “We’ve grown up,” Griffin said in a sit down interview. “Most of the people that criticize BET, don’t watch BET. The truth of the matter is that we have an array of great programming. There’s more variety. There’s a lot more ownership in the content. We have the ability to go to our audience…We’re connecting with our audience in a more intimate way. People believe in BET. We found a consumer that wanted something and we were able to serve that.”

Griffin, who got his introduction into the entertainment industry as a skilled and talented disc jockey in Chicago, has found his groove as a music meister. And he loves it.

“The reward of my job is to be able to take somebody that nobody has ever heard of and make them a superstar,” Griffin said. “We’ve helped many, many artists.”







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