Words: A.R. Shaw
Photos: Joi Pearson
With trumpets blaring, young Reginae Carter arrived at her 13th birthday party in grand style — in a Cinderella-style horse drawn carriage, replete with the regal white horse and the pumpkin like coach. Carter then descended the carriage and entered the Callanwolde Mansion wearing an elegant pink and purple gown, and a diamond tiara atop her well-coiffed curls. It was a scene befitting the princess that she is. And as she entered the mansion’s opulent ballroom, she was escorted by the royal king — her father, Lil Wayne.
The affair was more than just an extravagant teen party — it was a testament to the strong family bond between the hip-hop star and his daughter.In a time when the black family structure has been torn apart by absent fathers who fail to properly support or involve themselves in their children’s lives, Lil Wayne, Toya Wright and Mickey “Memphitz” Wright are providing the proper emotional support for Reginae and are living examples of how to maintain healthy family relationships.
Unfortunately, too many black youth are growing up without a strong support system and the lack of active fathers has had a detrimental effect on the black community. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, children who grow up without a father are more likely to deal with depression, behavioral issues, and experience problems at school. President Barack Obama has on more than one occasion spoken about the crisis of absent black fathers and encouraged more black men to be accountable their families.
“In the African American community, close to 50 percent of young people are growing up without a father,” President Obama said. “If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up. We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception. What truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and investing in that child. We need fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives — not just when it’s easy, not just during the afternoons in the park or the zoo, when it’s all fun and games. But when it’s hard, when young people are struggling.”
Hip-hop artists are often vilified for their use of vulgarity and the nefarious lifestyle choices they promote in their music. However, along with Lil Wayne, several prominent hip-hop artists have bucked past trends by playing a significant role and being involved with their children.
Big Boi often takes time off from his busy performance schedule to be active in PTA meetings and his kid’s extracurricular activities. “Becoming a father definitely helps you program yourself,” Big Boi said during an interview with rolling out. “It’s like an animal instinct, because it’s just not about you anymore. Your kid comes first before anything except for God. It makes you a little more responsible and focused because you have to balance family and music. I’m a very hands-on dad. I go to school plays, help out with homework, football practice, soccer practice and piano rehearsals. It’s very fulfilling and it really completes me and it keeps me grounded at the same time, because it’s not about everything that goes on in the entertainment world.”
Music mogul Akon balances life as an artist, producer and label executive to find time to spend with his kids. He told rolling out that he believes that it’s essential for men to provide guidance to their children.
“Being a father changed my life,” Akon said. “Because I know I’m not working for myself anymore. Everything I do now is for the kids. It’s for them and the great things that come with being with them. Children are everything. You have to understand that the responsibility is something special. Outside of supplying money, you have to be there and encourage them.”
As Lil Wayne danced with Reginae during her 13th birthday bash, the Young Money rapper made an important statement without ever uttering a word. His mere presence proved that black men of the hip-hop generation are willing to do what many in the generation before them didn’t — be present. Lil Wayne, Big Boi, Akon, Snoop Dogg, Rev. Run, 50 Cent, T.I., Diddy and other rap stars are not running away from their responsibilities. They have supported their families, remained close to their children and are showing their fan base the power of fatherhood in the black community.