Rap music is the voice of hip-hop culture. Ideas, concepts and ways of thinking have been sculpted from the litany of verses that have flooded the airwaves.
Biggie and Tupac are always at the top of the list when we discuss the culture. Both of them are products of single-parent homes. We laud their greatness and honor their contributions. When they met their demise their mothers stood up for them. Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace kept the memory of their sons alive. “Dear Mama” is arguably one of Tupac’s most impactful songs and is an anthem for single mothers around the world.
The story seems all too familiar. Rapper grows up in a single-parent home without a father and everything they do is to support the family and honor “thy mother …” This is not a bad thing, however, where are the fathers?
In 2013 The Centers for Disease Control reported that 72 percent of births In the U.S. were to unmarried non-hispanic Black women. The statistic lacks nuance, however, and does not tackle the effects of mass incarceration and poverty in Black communities. This same study shows that Black men who live with their children or are not living with their children are still more active participants in the lives of their children than any other race overall.
Kanye West recently released the video for his song “Follow God” from his most recent release Jesus is King. The voice of Pastor Dr. Kerwin B. Lee opens the video as we watch Kanye and his father Ray West make their way to an ATV in the snow.
Pastor Lee explains how fearful his children were the first time they encountered snow and how he instructed them to walk in the footprints he made in order not to have any fear. The video closes with a note from Kanye “My dad came to visit me at one of our ranches in Cody, Wyoming,” it reads. “He talked about his love for fishing, and how he would come here in the summers. It took me 42 years to realize that my dad was my best friend. He asked me, ‘how many acres is this?’ I told him 4000. He replied with these three words: ‘A black man?’”
The narrative is changing. Legendary rap group Gang Starr just released the video for their song “Bad Name” off of the latest project One of the Best Yet. In the video we watch Guru’s son Keith Casim shave off his hair in order to play the part of his father who has since passed on.
The importance of Black fathers can’t be overstated and let’s hope this trend of honoring Black Fathers continues.