Spotlight On Fathers In Hip-Hop: Jay-Z, T.I., Fat Joe

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By Rob Markman

Early in January Jay-Z became the latest hip-hop dad, when he and wife Beyonce welcomed their daughter Blue Ivy Carter to the world. With his daughter’s birth, fans got to see a softer side of Hov on the dedicated track “Glory” (featuring Blue Ivy Carter) and now they wait to see how Jay will balance his rap persona with fatherhood. Rappers like Fabolous, Fat Joe, and T.I. have already had plenty of experience with that juggling act.

Before rap, Fat Joe had quite the reputation on the streets of the Bronx, and over the course of his 19-year career, his music has reflected just that. His teenage son, Ryan, sometimes feels the pressure to live up to his dad’s rep, but Joey Crack works hard to guide him right. ” ‘Everywhere he goes people tell him, ‘I remember when your father was this, this and that,’ so he’s tryin’ to live up to that,” Joe told MTV News. “But I’m tryin’ to tell him, ‘Yo, we live in a mansion, B, like you know that’s done.’ ”

Ja Rule, who is currently serving a two-year sentence on a gun charge, talked to MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway about how his life decisions ultimately affect his kids when he appeared on “RapFix Live” in April. “She needs her father,” Rule said of his teenage girl, Brittany. “My boys, they need me right now too, as well as my wife. They need Daddy, and Daddy f—ed up.”

Nick Cannon was recently hospitalized for kidney failure and spoke to MTV News about maintaining a healthier lifestyle to be there for his and wife Mariah Carey’s children.”There was a second I was thinking like, ‘Damn, what if I’m not able to instill the things that I want to instill into my children?’ ” he said of his time in the hospital earlier this month. “It just makes you think, ‘Yo, I need to give them everything I can possibly give them right now,’ and obviously it starts with love.”

Being a hip-hop father definitely changes things. Before he became a dad, Fabolous rarely rhymed about his personal life, but in 2009 he opened up about his son Johan on “Stay,” a track from his Loso’s Way album. On his upcoming Loso’s Way 2, Fab figures he will open up even more. “[Children] change the way you look at things and do things and I think the music will reflect that too,” he said.

T.I. has been balancing rap and family life for almost his entire career. He and wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris now star in the VH1 reality series “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle,” where cameras follow the couple and their six children around. On the show, Tip’s kids exhibit a star quality similar to their famous dad; his son Domani is even starting a rap career of his own. “I’m not going to encourage him,” T.I. said about his son following in his footsteps. “However, I will support him if I see that he’s sincerely passionate.”

There’s a lot to consider when being a hip-hop dad, so Hov has his work cut out for him. “It’s serious being a hip-hop rapper and being a father in the real world,” Fat Joe said.