Doug E. Fresh & Square Off: Father’s Day

A celebrity Black father of six (who all live with him) owns and maintains two restaurants, a club, several residential properties, and performs around the world while still making it to family night every Wednesday. The first name that comes mind is probably Bill Cosby. But growing up in a strong family structure isn’t just […]

A celebrity Black father of six (who all live with him) owns and maintains two restaurants, a club, several residential properties, and performs around the world while still making it to family night every Wednesday. The first name that comes mind is probably Bill Cosby. But growing up in a strong family structure isn’t just reserved for fictional Rudy and Theo. Just ask Hip-Hop pioneer, Doug E. Fresh. The hardest working entertainer in the business is not only is a dedicated parent, he also serves as a committed mentor to the newest crew out of Harlem, his sons, Square Off. Still touring, still teaching, Doug E. Fresh is a real dude with real values. A lot of men, celebrity and civilian, can take a page from his book, still getting fresh. Father’s Days are never for What role did you play in your sons’ wanting to become artists?Doug E. Fresh: I didn’t actually tell them to do this. They decided to do it on their own. My role came as guidance – just being around and giving them my honest opinion. I make sure I give them the best possible education about the game. It happened as a kind of natural progression. My whole process with them is, “I’m giving you a blank sheet of paper and some colored markers; you create what you want. You may draw something that’s horrifying, you may draw something that’s funny, you may draw something beautiful, but all of it is a reflection of you. Some people try to control you. Some people try to stop what you’re doing.” I don’t like that creative process. I let you do what you do and you’ll find Was it a personal choice to become artists or did you feel like you had to because of who your father is?Slim: We’ve been watching him ever since we were like three or four years old. We’d see him on TV or see him at a show and see him perform and we looked up to him. We loved it. We were always around studio equipment, DJ equipment, mics and we fell in love with it. That’s all we’ve been around, so that’s all we know. Trips: We were always rhyming and dancing as kids, but we were just doing it because it was fun. I know I didn’t really start taking it serious until I was like 11 or How do you feel watching your sons record and perform?Doug E. Fresh: I have pictures of them when they were little kids playing with turntables and mics. It’s some funny s**t. Not that it’s funny that they were like that, but it’s just crazy to see something evolve from that to this. My littlest son, Jonah, does the same thing they used to do. I’ll play some of my music and when he hear something he likes, he’ll say, “Play it again! Play it again!” Where were you when you found out you were going to be a father, and how did you feel?Doug E. Fresh: When I heard I was going to be a father, I was in Africa. I was on tour with Ice-T and Eric B. & Rakim. My reaction was like, “Alright, let’s go. Let’s do it.” Once that happened, I just made a decision that certain things were going to have to change. I wanted my career, but I also wanted to raise my sons. And I was raised in a manner where abortions weren’t an option. I wouldn’t take the option anyway because of my religious and spiritual beliefs. It had me thinking I need to be more careful if I’m going to do this. This is real. You’ve got to watch yourself. Like I always look out for myself, but now it’s like there’s a reason; I’m having two sons. I don’t think things happen coincidentally. There’s a reason for everything that occurs. After they were born, I had to adjust my lifestyle so that I could tour but pay attention to what’s going on with them. It’s a big difference from just being in a relationship and having children with the person. When you have children, you have to pay attention, so I’d be calling and saying, “What are you doing? What’s he eating?” So I had to come in and revamp their whole program. A woman is going to give the child what she thinks she should give him. But there are little subtle things that a woman will do that can affect how a boy grows into a young man. So I had to pay attention to things. Like you take a boy to the beauty parlor and he’s going to come back wanting to do hair and play with nail polish. Nah, you take him to the barbershop. Doug E. Fresh is one of the hardest working dudes in the business. How was it growing up with him doing shows and tours all the time?Trips: It wasn’t rough growing up with him. It was never a problem because no matter what, he always made time for us. No matter what, we still spoke to him; we’d see his shows. If we called and he couldn’t pick up, he’d always call back. He’d be around and then he’d have to leave so we were basically used to it. It didn’t bother us because we knew what he did. We knew what it was. He was grinding for us, for his Having a Hip-hop legend for a father must come with a good side too. Do you have any memories that stand out?Slim: Easter a couple years ago. In the hood, everybody gets fresh for Easter and goes somewhere. So this one Easter we all got dressed up and were looking for a way to get around, so at the last minute, we rented a tour bus – like it was real short notice. So it was like 40 of us in a tour bus, riding around New York, going to City Island, 42nd Street and all that. He dropped the bread for it, but he’s the type of person that won’t just give us something. Nothing is ever just handed to us. If you want something, you’ve got to work for it. He wants to teach us to stand on our own feet. He’s going to be here forever and God forbid, when he dies, we have to know how to hold our own.Doug E. Fresh: It’s funny because the way they came at me, they were like, “The breakdown is this, the numbers are that, everybody is getting this.” Their salesman ability is really good. They have this technique where one will come at me real aggressive and the other will come at me more subtle. So it’s kind of hard to get around that s**t. But I make it a point to teach them that every dollar is a dollar that is made from real, hard work.None of this s**t was given to me. I had to work. And when you teach your kids that just because you got it, you’re [still] supposed to give it – I don’t agree with that kind of upbringing. I try to teach them [to earn it]. And any father that’s really a father will understand what I’m saying. How big of an influence is you father when you’re writing your rhymes and putting songs together?Slim: When I write a rhyme, I think about what the listeners would say. He’ll just give his positive input. If I said I just popped somebody with this gun on my waist, he’d come to me and be like, “Think about if it’s a smart decision to say that. Or at least level it out so it’s not just about that.” Trips: But at the end of the day, we pretty much say how we feel. If I write something, I’m talking about something I’ve seen or heard – or something someone told me. So when I’m writing, I’m doing it for the people. So we can basically say what we want, but if we dig ourselves a hole, we’ve got to get ourselves Do you feel like you’ve been prepared to have successful careers in Hip-Hop?Slim: We’ve been ready. We’ve been doing this for so long. It’s been long overdue, but I’m glad all that time passed. Like my pops says, “Everything happens for a reason.” Now we have so much experience that we’re ready for anything and anybody. I’m more confident than I ever was. I feel like I can get on any type of record. Trips: We got the single, “Left, Right, Front, Back” dropping real soon. We’re getting that into rotation. We’re working on a couple mixtapes and we got the You Tube popping. And people can hit us on the You’re always going to be their father, but do you feel there will be a time when you will be able to fall back as their mentor?Doug E. Fresh: I see them gradually coming along. Everything happens in stages. Certain conversations I’m having now, I couldn’t have had with them a year ago. They watched Lil’ Romeo and Bow Wow and they felt like they should’ve been doing it then. Like Master P had a label situation [with No Limit Records] and was an artist. But he was more about the business and you can tell because, no disrespect to him, but he’s not around anymore. I am who I am. I’ve been out here from the beginning, and I’m still out here now. If you go into a restaurant and you order some food you’re going to get all nervous and impatient waiting to eat. But to the chef making a meal, he’s cooked 100 times before; it’s a process. He knows it takes time to be just right. It’s the same thing with these guys.