Meet Karen Civil: The Girl Behind Hip-Hop’s Biggest Names
The DrJays.com Live family isn’t the only team Karen Civil is down with. From Young Money to Dipset, the hard-working Elizabeth, NJ native has been putting in behind-the-scenes work—focusing primarily on developing an online presence for her clients—since her days as “super intern” for Hot 97′s Funkmaster Flex.
Fast forward a number of years later and Civil now juggles roles as diverse as consultant, publicist, reporter and quasi-A&R for some of hip-hop’s top names, including Young Money and The Clipse. Who do you think created and runs the super popular online outlet, WeezyThanxYou.com, for Lil Wayne to communicate with his fans during his current incarceration? And to that fact, strategically made sure Wayne got on the phone with Flex recently? A true digital renaissance woman whose surprisingly shy demeanor commands respect without asking, Civil is indeed one to watch.
Your name’s becoming familiar as a growing music industry force, yet many people still don’t know exactly what it is you do?
“I consider myself the ‘Hip-Hop Blossom’ because I wear so many different hats. I’m the Online Marketing Coordinator for Young Money Records. I run my own marketing company called Always Civil Enterprise, as well as run a hip-hop tastemaker’s site, www.karencivil.com.”
Your first real industry experience was as an internship with Funkmaster Flex at Hot 97 FM. How did you manage to stand out from your peers there?
“It started when I entered the Hot 97 Apprentice Contest for the Angie Martinez Show. After a grueling few weeks I made the final three, but unfortunately I wasn’t picked. Flex liked my go-to attitude and decided to keep me as his intern for his show.
You’re currently working with Flex once again, correct?
“Yes! It’s a great feeling to know the person who first gave me my shot a few year ago is someone I’m doing business with. Flex has one of the best personalities and people know him for his radio show on Hot 97, but it’s great to be able to help him become more interactive online, to connect more with fans who aren’t in the Tri-State area. I’ve just helped him create www.inflexwetrust.com, his first ‘blog’ site where he posts his interviews, car talk and other things related to the Funk Flex brand.”
You moved from Hot 97 to working with Dipset. What role did you have with them?
“I basically did everything needed for Dipset—I played a mother role. From mixtape covers, A&R work, tour manager; whatever needed to be done, I made sure it was done in order for the artists to succeed.”
What kind of memories do you have from that particular time? I’m sure there’s some crazy ones.
“Honestly there are so many memories, but I think Cam’ron‘s private birthday dinner was a favorite of mine. You would never think he would know some of Hollywood’s elite, but breaking bread with his celebrity friends was definitely a highlight! Mariah Carey to your right, Paris Hilton to your left. It was very memorable.”
You now work closely with Young Money Entertainment, particularly Mack Maine. How did you develop this relationship?
“Funny thing is, I honestly don’t remember how we first met, but I saw him a few years ago while in Miami and we discussed business. I was just telling him all my ideas and it really started from there. He saw my drive and I appreciate his business-savvy work ethic, so it was a perfect fit.”
How did you come up with the idea for Lil Wayne’s current fansite, WeezyThanxYou.com?
“Wayne wanted a way to talk to his fans, let them know he loves them. It was naturally his idea, but Karla Moy and I made his vision come true for him. We painted his vision.”
In your opinion, where does Young Money’s current success come from?
“Young Money has a drive and work ethic that hasn’t been seen in a few years. People come in the game, get one song and they get comfortable. YM is always being innovative and thinking about what’s next. The artists themselves are humble and creative and appreciative of one another, so it works well.”
While working with celebrities to build their brands, you’re also developing your own profile. At this stage in your career, what are your ultimate goals for yourself?
“I want to continue to build my marketing company Always Civil Enterprise, to start working with more A-list clients, to even building and working with new artists.”
Your strong industry relationships are enviable to many; in addition to Funkmaster Flex, Dipset and Young Money you also work with the Clipse, J. Cole and others. What do you think makes a star?
“Great music and a humble attitude—two things a lot of artists are lacking. Those things will definitely get you a long way.”
Be sure to follow Karen Civil on Twitter.