Started from the Middle: The Great Divide Between Rappers and their Privileged Kids

Started from the Middle: The Great Divide Between Rappers and their Privileged Kids

Hip-hop stars' hard-knock roots can make it hard to relate to their sheltered children

by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, April 23, 2013

Started from the Middle: The Great Divide Between Rappers and their Privileged Kids

Xavier asked, intimating his father’s history of drug abuse.  DMX responded, “If there’s going to be a condition… I’m not going to allow that.”

Aside from the specifics of the discussion, the conversation sounded much like any father negotiating with his newly-grown son.  “I think everyone, including the population you identify here, needs forces that stabilize their lives,” Dr. Spivey prescribes, listing, “a confidant, spiritual advisor; psychotherapist; or Dutch Uncle who has no ax to grind; no particular investment in the celeb's career, but a greater investment in your personal, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.”

Dr. Orbe-Austin adds, “The first step is acknowledging that there is a disconnect between their lived experiences and begin to explore the expectations each has of the other.   For the parent, it is also important to discuss the feelings of guilt or the reasons for emotional and/or physical absence.  The child must also have an opportunity to voice his or her feelings about not having his or her parent present.”

Dr. Orbe-Austin points out, “Parenting is difficult no matter the situation, but can be even more challenging under the public spotlight.  Therefore, seeking support is important and constantly communicating are key strategies to creating a happy, healthy relationship for everyone.  The parents and the children may have different childhood experiences around money, but often have similar experience in terms of interpersonal and developmental challenges because the parent is likely to replicate those unless they are understood and resolved.”

As the children of Lil’ Wayne, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z grow up, it will be interesting to see how they reconcile the worlds their parents' came from and the worlds they inhabit. DMX’s articulate son, and James Todd “LL Cool J” Smith’s children offer a glimpse of what could be.

In a recent interview with the rapper and actor who recounted physical abuse in his childhood and his father’s shooting of his mother and uncle who both survived, Oprah Winfrey asked LL’s children what they are most proud of about their dad. Italia, 22, answered, “I’m most proud of just seeing his growth as a person, and just as a father and a friend.” Italia explained, “he had us when [he was our age] so me and [my brother] Najee kind of went through it all.”

Smith’s younger children are more removed from their father’s youthful indiscretions, and benefit from his distance from his difficult early childhood. Daughter Samaria, 17, says her father’s current focus is on telling her “You can do anything you put your mind to. You’re beautiful. You’re talented. You’re smart. Like, all the time.”

“Like, every five minutes,” youngest daughter Nina, 12, chimed in. All the children laughed.

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of the novel Powder Necklace and founder of the blog People Who Write. Follow her on Twitter @nanaekua.

Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter