Grammy and Oscar award winning artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith is no stranger to fatherhood. His critically acclaimed documentary In My Father’s House provides insight into the relationship that Che has with his own father and the challenges they have along the way. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Che and ask him a few questions about how he manages being a father and a musician. His perspective is insightful and valuable.
In what ways do you use music to educate your children?
I take historical pieces of music such as Nat King Cole, Nina Simone and Johnny Cash and play them regularly for my children, as we analyze the lyrics together. This builds a baseline for what my children believe in terms of their values and quality music.
How do you use creativity to teach your children to express themselves?
During road trips, my children and I use the time to play word games and we freestyle together. I’m not building young rappers. I am teaching my children to use words within context and rhythm. Similar to improv, hip hop has the ability to teach youth how to think quickly and choose their words.
What songs about fatherhood inspire you the most?
“Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone
“Cats In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
“You’re A Big Boy Now” by John Sebastian
Have you ever created a song dedicated to your children or family?
My song “Lost and Found,” which was featured in my film In My Father’s House is about my family.
How do you balance touring or late nights in the studio with being there for your kids when needed?
You have to have strong support systems in place and working co-parenting relationships.
Talk about what you love most about being a dad.
Watching your children grow and the training that you gave them start to take root in their actions and in the way that they live. It gives you an indescribable feeling of satisfaction.
What advice do you have for new dads?
My advice for new dads is that you’re already light years ahead of your child. Don’t worry about learning a bunch of stuff to teach them, just start from where you are and what you know.