Where would hip-hop be without fathers? Without DJ Kool Herc and Kurtis Blow, who, like many others, inspired the youth to pick up a mic in the 1970s, and eventually became hip-hop forefathers to their communities years later? Since then, hip-hop has seen an array of fathers within the genre, whether they be figures or familial, but they all are important. This year, XXL celebrates Father's Day by honoring some of hip-hop's most poppin' papas with a heartfelt statement from the mothers of their children as well as some of the kids themselves.
Nas, a dad to daughter Destiny Jones, 26, and son Knight, 10, has shown love to his kids at every turn, even on songs. In 2004, he honored Destiny with the track "Me & You (Dedicated to Destiny)," which appears on his Street's Disciple album. "Even though we don't live in the same home/And I mighta miss your graduation/And no matter how many miles I'm away from you/You know that I love you/Hear daddy on every station/Thinking, I'm loving my occupation/I know I got you home waitin', Desy/I do it all for you (if I had it all)," he raps.
In her special message to her dad, she recalls how his traveling gave her the opportunity to see the world through his eyes. Destiny also praises him for instilling self-worth and pride in herself.
When it comes to Lil Baby's fatherhood, Jayda Cheaves, the mother of his son Loyal, 1, recognizes the way in which he puts both of his children first—the rapper's eldest son is Jason, 5. Baby, who recently released the poignant song, "The Bigger Picture," stepping up to aid Black lives, also serves as a father figure for his friends, which Jayda thanks him for "all those people that he do help and guide and take care of." Her words of expression include giving appreciation for the My Turn rapper and his involved parenting style as well.
Twenty-one-year-old Reginae Carter, Lil Wayne's daughter, is the lauded rapper's first-born child, experiencing not only the way in which he's been an awesome dad to her, but to her three brothers, Dwayne, Kameron and Neal. Weezy and Reginae have a close bond that was even showcased on a song appearing on the MC's Tha Carter V album. She delivers the chorus on "Famous," singing, "Welcome to your name in lights/All the lighters in the sky/You must be famous/This is how you live your life/Different city every night/You must be famous, famous."
Speaking to XXL, Reginae expresses how Wayne is her best friend, and feels blessed knowing that "not everybody is blessed enough to have a father and I thank God for my father."
Rapper Domani, T.I'.s son, has created a career of his own in the rap world with projects Time Will Tell, Amygdala and his new single "The Truth," but never forgets his family roots. His father's parenting has long been chronicled in the rapper's VH1 series, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle for years. The father of seven successfully balances being a parent and prominent figure in hip-hop, Domani's Father's Day tribute to his dad includes the recognition that T.I. has "always made it clear that his family is his top priority.”
New York rapper Dave East became a father to daughter Kairi, now 4, in 2016. The toddler has become the center of his universe, commonly referring to his daughter in his music and sharing special moments with her on social media. She's inspired his mixtape names (2016's Kairi Chanel), skits ("Kairi Speaks," a brief interlude on his 2017 project, Paranoia: A True Story) and has even gotten him to dress up like a troll for the Trolls The Experience attraction.
Millie Colon, mother of Kairi and a son from a prior relationship, pays homage to Dave by sharing how he is the "illest" and "dopest."
Read on to see the special messages to Nas, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, T.I. and Dave East from their families on Father's Day.
Lil BabyFrom Jayda Cheaves, mother of his son Loyal
"[Lil Baby's] kids is like his first priority. Nothing comes before them. No matter where we're at, if we're out of town, say for instance, if we don't have the kids, just recently, we were in Miami. He wanted to get back because he was like, 'I miss my sons [Jason and Loyal].' So, we came back. It's just always like his boys are first. A lot of his time goes to them. It's just really like his whole world revolves around them. It's like that's always the first thing he think about before it comes to vacationing or am I about to buy this. It's always like, 'Oh my god, Jason would love that car, like even if he is about to buy a new Lamborghini.
Just to see how [his sons Jason and Loyal] look at him and how they do everything that they see him do. He can literally search his butt and they're going to scratch their butt. Like they do anything they see him do, so, he is really like their role model and who they look up, too.
Of course, a mom is more like, controlling and dads are more fun, so, I am more of the educator. I'm showing my son how to count, ABCs and stuff, meanwhile when he's with his dad, they are watching TikTok, they're playing their playfighting, they're dancing, they're listening to his music. Then there is me. I am more of the 'OK, it's time to count, get your iPad. We are about to learn,' and, you know, the opposite of his dad. They are listening to music.
I really did not like being pregnant, but one thing I can say, he was there every step of the way. He just made me ready to have the baby. I didn't have a bad pregnancy at all. I didn't experience morning sickness or anything, but he was there every step of the way. Through labor, he held my hand. He hates blood and stuff, but he was still there the whole way. He cut the umbilical cord, which we talked about. He was like, 'I'm not going to be able to do that,' but when we were in labor, he actually did it and I was so surprised. He cried before I cried when we delivered the baby. So, it was just like, it was very touching and he shocked me ’cause he hates blood and he was there. And real into it.
Just hanging out around the house, he likes that time the most because he doesn't have to worry about people asking for pictures. Say for instance, if we all go out to the mall, then there are people stopping him and he can't even enjoy shopping with his sons because somebody is coming up for a picture. So, I can honestly say his most favorite time with his kids is when he is home. ’Cause he knows he has them all to himself and don't have to worry about, you know, somebody interrupting their time together.
He shows them how to be a man. My son is like a little man. Everybody says he must have been here before. He is so smart and that's because the way his whole persona and demeanor just gives you a little man. You would have to be around him to see it, but he learns that from his dad.
Not only is he the biggest rapper in the world, but he is also a super great dad while being the biggest rapper and like, the most-streamed artist. It' bigger than all of that because when it's time to go home at night, none of that stuff matters. You would think that he is a normal man with a normal life, who literally doesn't have anything going on. The time that he spends with his kids, he never lets that come between his family time. That is one thing I love and respect about him.
He's just like a father figure to a lot of people in his life. So, I can just say thank you for all those people that he do help and guide and take care of. A lot of his friends, his young friends, a lot for people look up to him and he is very inspirational, so, I know we all appreciate him for that. And we want to thank him for everything he does and especially thank him for being a super great dad."
"I was always grateful to have a dad who traveled. I got to see the whole world through the souvenirs, dolls and books he would bring back for me. I was mostly grateful to have a dad who traveled because he would always come back. My best friend’s father was in prison, so even as a toddler, I understood that not every little Black girl gets a dad; but we all need one.
My father taught me more than just how to ride a bike and spell my whole name before I even knew my ABCs. He also taught me how special it is to be a Black woman, my history and how much power I have. This is something I took with me every day of my life through every obstacle. From disrespectful young boys to being called a 'n***er' by a private school classmate for the first time. My self-worth, pride and knowledge of self were principles instilled in me so deeply I could only ever hold my head high.
I wouldn’t be who I am without my father. An entire half of me would be missing. There are so many young Black girls in this country who have the misfortune of growing up without a father. It is my prayer that with prison reform and changes in policy, Black fathers can be put back in the home where they belong. We need our fathers and they need us, too."
Lil WayneFrom daughter Reginae
"My father has always been like my best friend...it's so crazy cause you know how it's the good cop, bad cop, like my dad was always the good cop. I would ask him if I knew my mom was going to say, 'No.' He's like my best friend. We talk all the time. Growing up, we would just chill together. He would always be with me.
I like that he teaches us things as we grow. He's always told me there is nothing more attractive than to be a beautiful Black educated, young woman. He has always told me, been hard on me with school. He wasn't accepting Cs and Bs. He would accept the Bs, but he wanted all As. I was on A honor roll like all through school. I have always liked how he always stepped in as a father. He's always told me how to carry myself, also along with my mother, but just in a man's point of view.
My father and mother wasn't really together, but what I enjoyed about my parents is that they were great at co-parenting. Every other Christmas, I would spend with him, every two or three weeks I am out there going to Miami to go see him. Stay with him for like two or three weeks, like it's always been very balancing. I have always had my time with my mom and my time with my dad. It's crazy ’cause with my dad, it's like I could always get away with a couple more things than my mom, so I was enjoying my time with my dad. So when I got home, I knew like OK, I can't do this.
My dad, he really like to be inside, like he is very homie and he works his behind off, so we will probably watch a movie [during our time together]. I remember one time, he rented out a theater. We went to go watch a movie. We go to the skateparks with him. The boys, like my brothers, they love skating with him and I just watched him ”cause I'm not getting on no skateboard. I tried and he laughed at me. He was like, 'It's not for you.'
It's so hard for artists. I feel like growing up, now that I am grown I definitely understand now how it's so hard for like the artist to kinda balance it, but my father has done a great job. We always talk, he's always communicating with me. It's always me and my father, not me and Lil Wayne, you know? It's always very just caring and natural. It's so crazy cause you see him go out on the stage and perform for all of these people and then get back on the tour bus and then we are cracking jokes. But he is my dad.
I think we get each other. We're a lot alike. So like growing up, just seeing all of the blogs talk about my dad, hearing it in school, I always understood. My dad, you know, he's not too big on the blogs, but of course, it gets back to him in some way and he always talks to me and makes me feel comfortable about things and, you know, know that, listen, it's another world out there on media ’cause I know now that I'm grown and I've been in the media and they portray certain things in the media that like, if you really get to know me and understand, I am really cool, but some people don't know that ’cause they judge you and they've probably seen me go off on that person. You just got to know the truth.
Not everybody is blessed enough to have a father and I thank God for my father and thank God that my father has been in my life and is present in my life. For Father's Day, I feel like every man who takes care of his kids and loves their kids and, you know, spend time with their kids should be praised and they should be safe. And it should be their day ’cause females run the world, so we can give them that day.
I would just say that I love you [dad] and I will always be on your side no matter what and I will never steer you wrong, I will always tell you how I feel. You will always have that person to confide in and however you feel about me, if you want to just talk and you don't have that person to talk to or you feel as though you can't trust somebody, I'm that one person. You know, I am your firstborn. I'm your best friend and you are my best friend and I love you no matter what and that will never change."
“I’ve always been asked how is it like having the father that I’ve been blessed with. I still don’t feel that I’ve experienced enough to even fully know how much of a blessing it is to have a father that’s always made it clear that his family is his top priority.”
Dave East From Millie Colon, mother of his daughter Kairi
"I just want to take this moment to honor you on Father's Day. Not only have I watched you excel as an artist, as a actor, as a friend and a son, as a partner, but as a dad. It came so naturally. The kids love you so much. You the illest, you the dopest. I appreciate you. Happy Father’s Day. Could not have asked for anyone better than you. Love you."