J. Moss is a Grammy Award-winning artist and producer. He’s no stranger to the spotlight. He’s been all over the world but continues to call Detroit home. In addition to all of his success, he’s also a husband and a father of two teenage boys, ages 13 and 16. He says it’s crucial to ensure he raises them well because “… we can lose our young African American boys to so many things.” He’s constantly reminding himself to stay in front of them and in their heads in terms of always doing the right things and making the right decisions.
Rolling out sat down exclusively with Moss to discuss his Father’s Day traditions, his feelings on fatherhood, and his views on raising successful and productive young men. In regard to his teenage sons, he’s very protective of them, who both happen to be straight A students. He wants them to learn and make mistakes on their own. One of his favorite things he likes to do with his sons is to develop bonds with them in what he calls “play combat,” which is akin to play wrestling. He says it’s not so much the physical aspects of it, but it’s more of the loving bond and relationship they create with one another that he loves so much. Play combat allows Moss to see his son’s natural reactions to different situations. He says it shines a light on the type of personalities they individually have and it gives him, as a father, some insight on their decision making skills. He uses these times to teach his son’s life lessons and it helps him to assess how to deal with them when they are faced with real-life challenges. He is then able to suggest various solutions based on what he’s learned about them through play combat.
When queried about his favorite song that reminded him of fatherhood, Moss effortlessly and playfully broke out in song, literally, singing the very popular old-school song “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations. He says despite the song’s perceived negative undertones, the lyrics made him dig deeper as a writer and a producer because “… every song doesn’t have to be peaches and cream.” He also goes on to speak about writing songs and dedicating them to his sons. Take a listen:
Check out the rest of the interview below.
How do you use music to educate your children?
I really don’t, other than examples. Music is one thing that I actually don’t try to force upon my children because I want them to be able to spread their wings and grow into whomever or whatever they want to be. I think that’s paramount. So, it’s a big deal to me to not always force music down their throats because I don’t want them to feel pressured or feel like they’re going to disappoint dad if they want to go a different route. That’s really, really crucial for me.
But in terms of examples, I always use music and the music industry as an example of how they can persevere, because I did it. So, I think in terms of that, the two kind of go hand in hand with me showing them how important education is one, and then two me simply saying if you put your mind to anything, you can go against the norm and still be successful, but you’re going to have to work harder. There has to be discipline. Then of course, they know how hard I work. They share time in the studio with me. They see the work ethic that I put in. They see the effort that I put towards it. So, I think that helps to educate them.
How do you use creativity to get your children to express themselves?
You gotta be your own unique individual. What works for one person may not necessarily be the path or what works for another person. So, be yourself, whatever you are, whatever makes you tick; however things motivate you or inspire you, use that. My wife and I are constantly beating them over the head with that: be you. Don’t chase the game, don’t chase people, don’t worry about status quo’s or what’s popular. You have to do what works for you because all trendsetters, at some point, dealt with what was unique to them. That’s what made it so special. We always try to promote creativity and staying unique and true to who you are.
How do you balance touring or late nights in the studio with being there for your kids when needed?
The way you can create a balanced lifestyle for somebody that has a demanding schedule like mine, you have to be up front. Everybody that’s involved has to understand what’s going on. That means you always have to be up front with your spouse and your children and let them know what it is. You can’t just have this type of lifestyle and just get on a bus or a plane and be gone for weeks at a time and not tell your children what’s going on. So, I think what’s really helped my wife and I was that we’ve always been very honest with our children as to what daddy does. So, even at birth they had begun to understand what’s what and who I am and why I have to be gone and why my work schedule has to be what it is. But at the same time, I still have to raise them. So, I have to know when to say enough is enough. I have to know when to stop. I have to know when to go and be at my son’s basketball game, or I need to go home and eat with the family and understand that they need some tangible time with me. I think you have to be a great time manager if you want to be successful at both.
What do you like to do on Father’s Day?
I like to be catered to. Now that my children are getting older, I like for them to love on me a little bit. I don’t mind them taking out a day to give back to me, in whatever way they can, being teenagers. So, I love that and it goes a long way for me.
How have you traditionally spent your Father’s Day?
Father’s Day traditions; I like to go to the grave-site to see my dad and love on him. I try to either do it on his birthday and/or Father’s Day. I go out to his gravesite to see the late, great Bill Moss Sr. because I realize that had it not been for him pushing me to be an artist, pushing me to be a writer, I would’ve never done any of this. I’d totally be a different J. Moss today. I’m not saying that I don’t think I wouldn’t have been successful, I’m just saying it definitely wouldn’t have been in music. That was all from my dad. So, that’s probably the main tradition that I like to do, is go out to the gravesite and spend some time with pops and really talk to him and say “Hey dad, thanks for the love. Thanks for everything that you’ve given. Thanks for everything that you’ve shared and made work for me.” That’s a big thing for me.