Black Fatherhood

By DAR Writing Staff

No, it is not Father's Day. We have some months to go until then, but it is almost 2021. A new year. After the hell that has been 2020, we felt it was appropriate to sit down and discuss the concept of black fatherhood amongst several different men from different walks of life and areas. For years, black fatherhood was almost treated like an anomaly by some people, which was unfair to the many active and loving fathers all across the world. Today, we wanted to take some time and discuss the beauty of black fatherhood, how some of us who didn't have our fathers growing up managed to become amazing fathers ourselves, how some of us followed the example set by their active fathers, and the current DAR Elite album from True God, Speed On The Beat, and Shokus Apollo that is aptly titled Black Fatherhood. That album releases on New Year's Day 2021 and sets off a year that hopefully will be even better for us than 2020. We gathered True, Speed, and Apollo to discuss the album and the joys of black fatherhood in general, as well as some other black sons and fathers who can tell you just how important black fatherhood is at every scale. Let the appreciation begin. 


Becoming a father is one of the best things I could’ve ever done in life. Before I was a father, I never thought that I’d live life letting someone else dictate what I do. The truth is, ever since I’ve had my boy all I can think of is being a better man, providing for him, and just making sure that he has a better life than I did. The fact that he’s growing up to be a black man makes me know I have to make sure I teach him as many lessons as I can about loving yourself because this world most certainly won't love you in the way we deserve. 


Being a black father is the single greatest accomplishment of my 29 years on this planet. I take the utmost pride in being an example that the stereotypes about black men are false. 

While being a black dad is my most proud accomplishment  I do feel the extra responsibility as a father to break cycles, especially raising a black boy. It’s a constant struggle between wanting to give your child the life we never had while also understanding the background we come from. Honestly, it’s a very difficult tightrope to walk. I mean a lot of us are from the inner city or hail from places below the poverty line so raising a child who for all intents and purposes will be a suburban child is new territory for us. What I personally would urge black fathers to do is to ALWAYS check yourself to make sure you’re not making your personal struggles the struggles of your child. The breaking of cycles is a beautiful thing and your child deserves the life you’ve been blessed enough to provide. I also urge black fathers to educate your children in a way that doesn’t instill fear but pride into them. This is difficult especially being that black people are constantly under attack but always remember we move with power not fear.

In summation, black fatherhood to me is a great responsibility that only we are equipped for.  Of course, mistakes will be made because as I mentioned before this is new territory for us however we have shown and are showing that black fathers are vital.


Growing up in high school out of my friend group, I was the only one I believe whose dad was in the household and active in their child's life. That's not a knock on my friends because they all turned out to be amazing men because they all have amazing moms who would grind to make sure their kid had everything they needed to be a black man in America. For as much as I respect their mothers and for as much as I resepct my mom, nothing can hold a candle to what a dad means to his child's life.

I'll always have a tremendous amount of respect for my dad and our relationship for one huge reason: he had to learn to do all that dad shit, on the fly. My granddad was rarely in my dad's life, and when he was, he never really supported my dad. I remember my dad told me that when he went to go tell his dad that my mom was pregnant with me, my granddad looked at him and said "you're gonna be a father? what a joke." And that stuck with me. The odds were stacked against my dad from the beginning. A teenage kid from a super small city, life was going to be changed on October 27th 1997 and nobody wrote him a manual on how to properly be a dad, how to properly be a good husband, or how to properly be a provider for his household. I've seen times where we had no food in the house and my dad never complained, he strapped up his boots, pinned his ears back and did what he had to do to make sure his family ate. I've watched my dad lose a child at birth and have to be there for his wife and kids in a situation that again nobody prepared him for that he had to learn what to do on the fly...And he did it all without batting an eye, that's a real man.

I am who I am today because of my dad. A lot of kids growing up where I come from have OG's and niggas they look up to who were in the streets, niggas who they look to for advice when shit get real. My OG was/is my dad. My big homie was/is my dad. My dad has taught me so many lessons about what it means just to be a man. In late 2019 to early mid 2020, I had serious depression and anxiety, two things I still deal with on a daily basis. I remember one day I was home and my dad saw that my life was spiraling, so he took me outside, lit up his wood tip black and mild and his words picked me up from a scary place. He told me, "Son, I know it's tough, and I know it feels like life has you in a vice grip, but don't give up, keep fighting, and keep pushing. Being a man ain't about how much money you got, how many women you got, what nice clothes you got. Being a man is about how you respond when life hits you in the face. You gonna stand up and fight for yourself, fight for your family, fight for your well being? Or you gon take the easy route and give it all up? Your mom lost a child, and even though it's hard, you keep pushing, cause there's somebody looking up to you. If somebody would have told me that 23 years ago I would have made alot of different decisions." That was the first real time my dad ever sat me down and opened up like he did.

To all the fathers out there, who didn't have their dads in their lives, keep pushing kings. You don't need a blueprint. Create your own. Create your own blueprint and show your sons what it's like to be a man. Create your own blueprint and show your daughter what to expect from a man. Create your own blueprint and show your kids the plan when life isn't always on their side. 

And to my dad. Thank you OG. Thank you for not being afraid to make mistakes. Thank you for being there for mom and for being there for us. Thank you for always keeping that door of communication open. Most importantly, thank you for putting me onto all the old school hip hop and unbelievably being the one who put me onto Young Thug. I appreciate you. If you ever read this, I love you big homie.

D'onco The Don

Man, it’s crazy to think about this subject honestly. So many different emotions, love, hurt, anger, sometimes even bitterness. My father for most of my life was locked away doing a bid, and the only thing I wanted the most was my pops to be around. The weekends that I was able to visit were some of the best times, from him seeing how big I got to talking about wrestling, football, girls, just everything in general. Then it was that time to leave and that shit crushed me. It was like someone who was always there but not close enough. Time went by, he got out of jail, and honestly, it wasn’t anything I expected it to be. Eventually, it grew into being a great relationship with my father, it just took some time. 

It’s crazy at times realizing the similarities between you and your father. Some that you love. But most definitely the ones that you hate as well. Shit was rocky but I can definitely say, having my father toward the end of my teenage years was probably even more vital in my life than having him when I was younger. Crazy right?

I’m not a father yet. However, what I can say is seeing my fellow DAR Elite Members be great fathers to their children is a joy within itself just for the little kid in me that is left.


D’onco The Don, signing off.

Speed On The Beat 

In June 2010, my life changed. That was around the time I finished undergrad at Maryland and—more importantly—I found out I would be a father for the first time. Now anyone who knew me then knew a few things about me. I liked my partying, I liked my drinking, I liked—well, you get the idea. I wasn’t in the right headspace to be a father. That is, at least not an A-1 Father of the Year type of father.

I began to think about what I wanted from my own father, and what I didn’t get from him. I began to think about how my biological father wasn’t a shining example, but my stepfather was. So, I started to mold my parent-to-be demeanor after my stepfather’s. 

However, parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of deal. You only learn how to be a parent through doing and, well, being a parent. Over the years, I stumbled a few times and did things that, in hindsight, I wouldn’t do now. But I’d like to say that “damn, ten years in and I’m finally reaching the pinnacle of who I can be as a father.” I’m involved, firm, present emotionally and physically, and constantly teaching both of my boys what it means to be a man in this world.

As a Black father, though, I also must make sure I teach them that they’re loved and are important—even when the world decides to dump negativity on them. I shifted my music stylings over the last five years because of this. People grow and people learn, but if you’re not sharing with your kids or the next generation? What’s the point? Being a Black father in 2020, you know that there are many things you’ve got to do. Voicing your love, your appreciation, your knowledge—and even your frustrations, in a constructive way, is one of those things. It’s a beautiful thing.

That brings me to Black Fatherhood. I mentioned in a piece on that True, Apollo and I always joked about being DAR Daddies. It was a running joke, that we’d eventually do an album about fatherhood. It’s been one of those things that has been in the works forever, though it initially took shape in 2015 with a song called “Sweet Child of Mine.” When it came time for us to lay down tracks, the jokes were tabled and we hit a stride.

Being a father saved me in a lot of ways. I was headed down a dark path before. Now I’ve got to make sure that being a father saves my children. It’s tough work, but it’s more rewarding than any accomplishment as an artist or an employee.

Shokus Apollo 

Black Fatherhood is a very important project for us because it's fully dedicated to our children. We explore different perspectives pertaining to parenthood including depression and how our kids heal us or just celebrating the joy they bring to our lives. I am proud of my brothers and fellow fathers for how this turned out. We have allowed the audience insight into our personal lives, maybe a little more than usual. Making music about your children exercises vulnerability and people should be commended for it. For True, Speed and I, representing our seeds in our music isn't new. We've had them on album covers and they've been credited as guest features too. So there's no debate that we want the world to know about our babies, no different from any proud parent. With the pandemic ravaging the world this year it means more to be closer to your family and loved ones. Being a young BLACK man in America is hard enough but to be a young BLACK father in America adds more pressure. Not only do you have to make sure you put food on the table but you have to take your child's health even more into account. Dealing with the "new normal", we are forced to step up even more (looking at you, virtual learning) while still maintaining a heightened sense of caution in our daily lives. This is not me making excuses but rather just pointing out how important our role as fathers are. I don't take my son or my stepchildren's love and safety for granted. I know the responsibility given to me and while it's NEVER easy, it is very rewarding. To see them grow up is a victory in itself and it amazes me the different personalities they have. Like I stated before, this album is for the children, but it's also for all the BLACK fathers taking care of their children and the mothers out there as well.

True God

There are two things to discuss here. One, the Black Fatherhood album. It is an album that didn't require much thought from me, and that might be evident. I didn't want to create a lyrical showcase for this, I didn't even write a verse. I just wanted to create something that truly spoke to the focus of what the album was about. From "Lonely" to "No Such Thing As Mistakes" to "Never Alone", while I wanted hooks that felt raw, honest, and showcased how much we love our children, I also wanted them to be catchy and enjoyable too. It was still an album, of course. However, after the last 2 plus years of tossing this idea around between Speed, Apollo and I, we finally sat down for a few days and crafted this project. I remember thinking this would never occur, but when it did, it really rang as powerful to me. From the first convo about how many songs (it was initially going to be an EP) to the final convo about tracklisting, we knew we were making something special. From the opening sound of the title track, where we all wax poetic about our love for our children, our upbringing, and more, you can feel the vulnerability and the honesty. Even with a song like "There Goes", which speaks about the arrival of your child and even has an account of my personal struggles and journey within this last few years, you can feel that we laid it all out there. The toughest topic to cover, miscarriage and watching the effect that it has up close, on "No Such Thing As Mistakes" brought me back some years before my daughter was born. Listening to my brothers also speak on their experience and reminding their children that they are no such thing as mistakes when you bring a beautiful life into this world was another powerful moment. Far too often, parents who resent their children use that statement and it needs to end. You know what you are doing when you make the decision to create your child (assault situations notwithstanding of course) and telling a child they were a mistake is just low. My two favorite songs personally are "Lonely" and "First Time I Saw My Child" because they encompass two sets of emotions for me. It takes me back 8 years ago to when my baby girl was born on "First Time" and bridges the gap to the current focus of utilizing melody and harmony on the track as well. While "Lonely" and its message could be confused, the song is not about your child filling a void in life, but rather the bond in itself that is like no other. The whole world could be against you and you would not notice because you have the love of your child and they have your love. With a bond that cannot be broken, nothing in life seems as important. I actually let my daughter have a guest appearance on "Lonely" as I recorded my part to the song via phone while we were sitting on the couch coloring together. While I wouldn't rank this album in my personal top 5 of releases from DAR in terms of quality (because we have legit classics), this is easily one of the most powerful albums we've created and I hope everyone at least gives it a listen on New Year's Day. 

Now, onto the topic of black fatherhood in general. For me, I never grew up with my father. I personally have a great disdain for him. My background is a little different than perhaps everyone here on this panel. My father wasn't doing a bid, my father wasn't there daily, hell I barely knew of my father minus pictures. He was alive and well, and honestly it is probably a good thing he wasn't there. Now I get that might go against the point of an article like this, but it fits perfectly in my mind. I have a brother, who is a bit older than me. I used to resent my father for being in my brother's life and not in my life, but in reality, it made me love and appreciate my mother and her hard work even more. The bad traits that I see in myself, I can attribute those to my father. The greatest pieces of me come from my mother. There are no guidelines for being a parent, no manuals, no rulebook, and raising a young rambunctious black boy can be tough on a single mother. My mother had her share of struggles and she reached out to my father for help before, and I have no issue with sharing this because it is reality for many. We make immature jokes on social media all the time, but in reality, a lot of men abandon their child and will not make an effort to be there. Some abandon multiple children and keep on with their lives. Bitch niggas. For my father, whatever his motivations were, it almost fueled me even more to be better. I took that underlying anger towards his absence and used it to perfect my writing, to perfect my focus, and used it for my grades. Growing up where I grew up, I saw a way out to better schools and felt it would lead me to higher heights. I thought at the time, maybe my father would find out how well I was doing and care to be around? That was the young True and it is probably more common for young kids abandoned than we might want to admit. I had been offered to skip 3 grades in elementary, earned my way into an ingenuity class at the best middle school in my city, got admitted to the best high school in my city (academically), even when I was dipping into the street related things around those times, I kept my focus school wise. My father did eventually come around. It was due to my mother reaching out and my brother being a teenager and wanting a relationship with his only sibling. It took me two meetings to realize that my father was not someone I wanted to be around. There was no desire for bonding, he seemed unsure of himself, and even his conversation lost me as a young 15 year old. I thought maybe I was still angry or bitter. Perhaps I still was. Regardless, there was an incident that occurred with my brother and several friends of mine that led to a car possibly being taken from its original owner where he tried to reprimand me and I realized I didn't need to hear him or have any respect for him. I heard my mother's pleas for me to get my shit together. I listened to her. At the time when my spiraling seemed to be a result of no father figure in the household, my mother's words and advice struck me enough to change my life and leave behind what I was dipping into. It took a little while, but she is one of the biggest reasons why I changed my life around, in terms of street shit. As of now, even with no relationship with my father, I realized his influence played a major role. I utilized his absence to fuel me to do better, I utilized his absence to focus more attention on my mother, and I also realized the type of father I never want to be when I had a child. As heartbreaking as it is to grow up without a father figure in your household, I did have an idea of what a father figure should be. My grandfather was there for me, as much as he could be and even now, we have daily talks and a great relationship. I lost my mother this past year and that was the toughest thing I've ever experienced, but my grandfather has been there and attempted to showcase that he loves me. He's far from a perfect father in his own right, but I have the utmost respect for him, as a result of him being there and being a loving father to my aunt even now. While I don't take any of his parenting methods into account when coming up with mine, I do appreciate his presence and hearing him say that I am the closest thing he's ever really had to a son means a lot. I love him for that reason. 

I said all of that backstory to highlight one interesting tidbit in this article: I am the only one on this panel who has a daughter. I reached out to two fathers who have daughters as well, but they did not participate. As the only father here with an actual daughter, I truly have to say there is nothing like it. The dynamic I had with my mother is the same dynamic I believe my daughter and I have. My mother and I had the closest bond and I adored her more than anything in this world. While I know my daughter truly loves and adores my mom as well, it is just different. From the moment she was born, I remember holding her and feeling like my world will never be the same in the greatest way. I was home with my daughter for the majority of the first year of her life and that was such a special time. To be able to see the first step, hear the first word, and everything else was amazing. The growth of your child in that first year is astounding, from the first crawl to the first pump fake at walking, it all captures you and draws you in. You'll be amazed by new things at every turn. From that moment on, the bond between my daughter and I had been unbreakable. So many things have occurred in my life over the years and through it all, the love and bond between us have been unbreakable. I think I've done a much better job with my daughter than my father could have ever done with me or my brother (free my brother btw, serving 25 years in the pen). As I write this, I'm looking over at my daughter, who is playing the Nintendo Switch and I can't explain to you how much she means to me and how much I want to protect her from the coldness of the world and provide her with the life my mother attempted to give me and then some. As much as I want to be a protector and provider for my child too, I also want to be a confidant and a guide, and though some people frown upon this concept, I want to be my baby girl's best friend. Someone she can turn to for advice and to talk about whatever, even when I may not be ready for the talk, even when she's unsure of herself. I tell my daughter everyday how much I love her multiple times over and over (she might be tired of hearing it) because I always want her to know. I say it and show it and I always want her to be aware that there is nothing in this world more important than her to her father. As a black man raising a young black girl, I know the world can be cruel at times. I know life can be rough. I know that children as they grow, go through their own sets of anguish, uncertainty, peer pressure, and more. It is my job as a father to be there for those moments, try and help talk her through them and just always be in her corner. The world is tough as is, our black children need their guides and their role models to be there for them and to show them we love them and care. When I think of black fatherhood, THAT is what I think of. Love. Care. Because at its core, that is what fatherhood is all about. And with the world we live in, black fatherhood requires a LOT of it. 



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