DJ Khaled appointed his infant son Asahd as the executive producer of his forthcoming album, Grateful. The Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans’ son, Christopher Wallace, Jr., recently made his foray into the rap world with his group CJ & Jahad. Kool DJ Red Alert’s son, G MiMs, is in the midst of establishing himself as a credible MC. Then there’s the late Jam Master Jay’s son TJ Mizell, who routinely tours with his father’s iconic group Run-DMC, and Master P and his rapper spawn Lil Romeo, who has already amassed his own legions of fans.
So what’s it like having a child follow in your footsteps? As Prince Paul explains — it can be complicated.
The Stetsasonic and De La Soul DJ/producer has made a name for himself among the upper echelon of the Hip Hop elite. Well respected and creatively gifted, the Long Island native is learning first hand what it’s like to have a child who has fallen in love with music the same way he did coming up in the birthplace of Hip Hop. He’s watched his son, Paul Huston, Jr., grow from an inquisitive child to his co-member of Negroes On Ice to the tour DJ for Lil Uzi Vert as DJ P.Forreal. While he’s undoubtedly proud of his son, he confesses it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.
“My son being a professional in the music business for me is a gift and a curse,” Prince Paul explains to HipHopDX. “I think it’s great that he gets a chance to pursue a dream that is not often experienced in life. The downside is you never want your children to experience the pain that is involved with the music business. All I can do is rely that I raised him right with a good sense of judgement, and that he will do well and thrive and not make the mistakes I’ve made. I would hope that he would learn from them and become greater and more successful than I.”
DJ Babu, who is a member of The World Famous Beat Junkies turntablist crew, longtime DJ for Dilated Peoples and instructor at The Beat Junkie Institute of Sound, stresses the importance of education and having a plan B. His 18-year-old son, who goes by Niko Beats, is entranced by music and a respectable beatmaker/producer in his own right. He’s been going to shows with his famous dad since he was three years old, but Babu wants his son to finish his degree before he fully goes after a musical career.
“I’m hard on my son about school,” Babu says to DX. “He detests it. He wants to just be out in the mix — like, ‘I want to be at uncle Alchemist’s house every day Dad.’ That’s something I’m struggling with right now because he is a brainiac. He is a smart guy and so passionate about the music. He has practical reasons for wanting to quit school, but it goes beyond having a plan B. It’s about having that growth. Before you get on a tour bus or have room service, I want him to see what 90 percent of people have to go through.”
Over the past few years, Babu has been forced to be “brutally honest” with his ambitious son about the realities of the music business and possibility of failure. He explains his career was already beginning to blossom when he decided to wholeheartedly pursue a career in turntablism.
“When I decided to leave school, I had a few things already working for me,” he says. “This is what I told my son — one, I had a friend from New York named Joe who wanted to give me a salary to move to Hollywood and manage Fat Beats. Two, I was already flying across the country to DJ. I also had success battle DJing, got a big piece in Rap Pages and was living off of selling my mixtapes.”
Luckily for him, his plan worked, but that’s not normally the case. While he clearly wants Niko to finish his four-year degree, he admits there is an exception.
“If someone like Snoop Dogg said he needed a bunch of beats, of course I’d be cool with it,” he says. “There are literal things that could happen that would make me say, ‘Ok don’t go to school,’ but if you want to move to Hollywood, work at Jamba Juice and smoke weed all day just to make beats — no. On the other hand, a big opportunity, I would support him 200 percent.”
“He’s really amazing,” he adds. “I say that without any bias or nepotism.”
While being a father is already an immense challenge, coupled with the complexities of the music industry it can become even more intense. Even though most kids don’t want to acknowledge it, parents usually have some applicable advice to pass down to their seedlings. Children obviously lack the wisdom that comes along with years of life experience, but at the same time, tend to think they know it all. Hopefully, with the patience and guidance of their well-seasoned fathers, they’ll be able to become an even better version of their musical dads and carry the torch for future generations.