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One person in radio who can make decisions is Karlie Hustle, midday on-air personality and assistant program director at KKFR-FM, Power 98.3, the top hip-hop and urban radio station in the Valley, and one that does play records by local artists.
"We have Friday Night Flavas, which is an underground hip-hop show where they play underground music from across the country, but have a feature called Homegrown, where they showcase local talent. That's your first line of defense," Hustle says. "If there's a record that just stands out and has mass appeal for our audience in regular rotation, we'll look into it and try to get it some spins."
As for Supa Nova Sta, when Hustle turns to www.myspace.com/supanovaworld, she realizes yes, she has seen the CD cover but no, she hasn't had the time to listen to it yet.
All Hustle can do is conjecture what an artist she hasn't heard yet should do. Big image plus points: "I love to see young female MCs in general because there's not a lot of women in hip-hop, period, that are rapping about anything other than their sexuality, and I imagine because of her age, her parents aren't going to have her talking about that."
Big image deterrent? You guessed it. Friggin' advertising.
"You have to think of advertising. Our music is a lifestyle genre that caters to late teens and early twenties," Hustle says. "How much credibility does a 13-year-old have in the hip-hop world where everything is so image-based and image-driven? It's street or it's club. I would think a 24-year-old male wouldn't have much in common with a 13-year-old MC. That's probably why we don't play those records like Lil' Romeo or Bow Wow very much. Chris Brown's song makes sense to a broader audience."
Ultimate advice? "The best thing she can do is to continue to get people in her age group to be interested in her music and know who she is. Judging from her MySpace page, she has a good stage show, she looks natural, so she's ready to roll. A lot of those younger acts do cross over to pop radio first. Like Jo Jo or Chris Brown."
Both teens, yes, but neither a rapper. "Supa Nova Take Ova," as far as radio is concerned, will have to wait another day.
Back at the Claim Jumper, it's apparent that few families are as fixated together on one thing as the Byrd brood is on Supa Nova Sta. There are hundreds of underage rappers who come up harder, if they come up at all, because they don't have the kind of built-in support system Ashlee has. This idyllic, attractive young family is embarking on a journey from which there is no return, the cutthroat business of show. An early indicator may be that Ashlee, extremely likeable and not the least bit boastful, already has haters who got in on the ground floor. In the seventh grade.
"Some kids, I was cool with them last year," Ashlee says. "Now that I'm getting bigger, they're acting like I'm changed. They don't act like they did last year. They think I think I'm conceited."
Maybe they're just projecting the boastful aspect of rap onto her?
"Yeah, but I'm not like that at all."
Guess what? We all had haters in the seventh grade. And they stamped their disapproval directly on your feet before knocking over your books and pummeling your hunched-over frame. The worst Ashlee's haters can do is leave her alone.
But negativity is pulling no one's ear at the moment. If you believe the motivational spiel of most swamis and success peddlers, they'll all tell you the trip is the reward, the arrival never quite lives up to it, and this moment frozen in time is actually the happiest the Byrd family will ever be. Check, please! For now, God's in his heaven, everyone is beaming with excitement, and the chocolate milkshakes arrive not a moment too soon.
When Marcello is preoccupied, Ashlee's asked that question you never get to pose to indie punk bands and moody singer-songwriters. "So, what do you want for your birthday?"
Mom and Dad would be so proud of the answer:
"A record deal!"