Marshall “Dj Mars” Thomas is one of the most sought after Dj’s in the country. He made his mark in the music industry by touring with many well-known music artists, including Usher, NEYO, Monica, Ciara, Keri Hilson and Kelis.
In addition to being a well-established DJ, The Springfield, Massachusetts native is also an accomplished author. His book The Art Behind the Tape” is currently being transformed into a ready for TV documentary.
Thomas currently resides in Atlanta, and is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He continues to express his artistic flair via music and film, a job Mars loves to do. Thomas also thoroughly enjoys the job of being a father to his high-school aged son. Rolling out recently spoke with him to get his perspective on fatherhood as a single dad and the importance of raising a strong, young Black king.
What legacy are you leaving for your children and the children of your community?
I am a self-employed father of one. [If I don’t work, we don’t eat]. So, in terms of leaving a legacy, I intend to leave my son with the knowledge that he is his own responsibility. No one is going to work harder for you than you. Nobody owes you anything, so don’t expect to get anything. Your grades are an example of the work you put in during school hours. Your paycheck is a reflection of a job choice that you made. And your life family structure is another choice that is all your own. So, in totality, everything you do is up to you. I don’t want him thinking he is owed anything. The will to work for his own and create his own is what I want to leave him and others.
From a father’s perspective, what two books would you recommend every child read?
From a fathers perspective I believe every child should read Things Fall Apart [by Chinua Achebe] and the Autobiography of Malcom X. They both reflect societal transformations. The first being about how an African society had fallen for the worse. And the latter obviously being about the transformation of one of the most important religious, civil rights leaders of my time. For me personally, Malcom X’s views represented a way of thought that has stuck with me. X gave principles that I still follow. And with his learning he showed how he evolved. The lessons were immeasurable, regardless of religious affiliation.
As a father and a life coach, describe your playbook.
Again, my day-to-day lessons center around responsibilities and owning them. I’m not perfect, so I don’t expect perfection. I do expect effort. We are all responsible for the effort we give. So, I try to instill that [my son] practices putting forth his best effort. My son is on a great path. All he really has to do is continue to walk it. When I was his age I was a little lazier. So, when I tell him the value of constant effort, I’m speaking from experience.
Name one life lesson that no one taught you, but should have.
I feel like the life lesson I never received was the concept of valuing money, credit and real estate. Schools don’t teach it. Parents are often too busy to teach it. So, I feel as though we all have missed the boat. Investing in property is a step towards wealth. Why isn’t that taught? It’s a lesson in independence that is omitted from a larger conversation until we become adults. I believe it’s a concept that should be instilled in all of us from [a very early age].
When it comes to protecting yourself at all times, physically and mentally, what would you tell your son?
My son and I have constant conversations regarding gun safety and education. That topic isn’t new to us at all. He knows the importance of being knowledgeable in regards to gun safety. The fear that most people face is in part due to lack of experience. At our house that’s not going to be a taboo topic.
Share one of your fondest memories you’ve experienced with your father, grandfather or father figure.
My grandfather was a southerner, turned northerner, who converted to Islam. So, in talking to him, there was always a lesson. Our relationship suffered from the rest of the grandkids; I assumed it was because I was the oldest male. So, he expected more out of me, and he never let me forget that. His thing was to always make sure you got paid for whatever it is you did. I could go on tour for two months, visit all 7 wonders of the world and come home, and his first question would be, ”Marshall, did you get paid?” It wasn’t a question asked out of materialism. He wanted to ensure that I wasn’t doing it for fun, and that my business was being handled. His favorite phrase to me was, ”Don’t take no wooden nickels!”
Share your most valued and treasured fatherhood goal.
My numbed one goal is to see the job through. My son is going to be a senior in high school this fall, so that job is almost complete. Afterwards, he’ll attend college; [that’s his next job]. Then it’s off to start a career. I want him to put himself in a position to create a career path as opposed to getting a job. Hopefully he can see that in me. Once his future is set, I want to see him start his own family. I hope to live long enough to see his kids create their own way. Those are the goals I look forward to achieving.