Consequence Opens Up About Fatherhood, Living With Lupus, And Making Music With His Son
“At the end of the day, my number one job as my son's dad is to be his emotional support,” the rapper says.
On October 21, 2022, the four-time Grammy-winning rapper Consequence will release his second full solo album, Nice Doing Business With You. As an artist known for his collaboration, as much as his openness, this title is perfect. But, two years ago, back in August 2020, Nice Doing Business With You was almost an EP called Things Are Different Now. It was a title that evoked the weariness of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that summer, Consequence had revealed he’d been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder lupus and that the disease had nearly killed him.
Consequence recently shared an update on Instagram reflecting on the progress he’s made since his initial health scare. “Two years later and the 2020 diagnosis is in the process of reversing,” he wrote. Now, after the delay of Things Are Different Now, Consequence is back and making the most of the opportunities he has to be an involved dad, continue to create music, and spread awareness about the dangers of Lupus and Diabetes, especially within the Black community.
Nice Doing Business With You, features tracks produced by his longtime friend Kanye West, an appearance by Chris Rock, and a collaboration with his 11-year-old son Caiden who has a burgeoning rap career of his own. The deluxe version of the LP will include additional songs, including some tracks that were originally slated to appear on Things Are Different Now, which never received an official release.
In 1996, Consequence made his debut on A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes, and Life , and also appeared in three songs on the group’s sixth and final studio album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. He and West have teamed up numerous times over the years, with Consequence delivering scorching verses on The College Dropout and Late Registration. Earlier this Summer, Consequence released the music video for the West-produced song, “Blood Stain,” the lead single from Nice Doing Business With You.
Fatherly caught up with Consequence to talk about his latest project and how he’s growing as a father all while working to maintain his physical and emotional health.
As your son approaches the teenage years, how are you growing as a parent?
Man, it’s a balancing act. When he was little, I had more of a protector vibe. But he's getting older, so with that comes independence. He wants to be known as his own individual. It's important that I’m able to allow him to have his space and creativity because if I’m just out to prove that I know everything, then how does he develop confidence? If I just give him the answers, that's a cheat sheet that doesn't allow him to ascertain a connection with his own mind. And I think that that's very important — for your children to become independent thinkers but still have a willingness to rely on your wisdom.
Is there a particular piece of life wisdom that you've tried to pass down, even if it's on the sly, to him to help him open up his creative potential?
I’m really staunch with him about him listening. One thing I learned when I crossed the threshold into my 30s was to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions because you can't assume you know everything.
What questions have you been asking?
My number one question is, “Am I buggin’?” I asked that because it's always a tension between what you know and what you don't know. Like, I'm a researcher. I'm a student, still to this day. As I said, I don't profess to know everything. I want to know more. But then the thing is, I am in that stage of life where you start applying experience and wisdom, which is a bit of a challenge. That toil is a great thing because it's all about busting through new frontiers. Parenting today is different from parenting in the ‘70s. As we journey through life, we're experiencing new frontiers, whether we accept that or deny it. So I think it's all about how you embrace that challenge and how you embrace that moment.
You’re Caiden’s father, but you’re also his producer. How do the two of you work together in the studio with the added family dynamic?
He's had to develop his own method of work. I gave him guidance on how to work. And he took some of that and learned through trial and error what works best for him. As his producer, I have to accommodate his method of performance.
Does Caiden make an appearance on your new album?
Yeah, we have a record called “Who Shot Jamal?” It’s a dialogue between Caiden and me about a kid named Jamal who’s been murdered where we are discussing the undercurrent of the information that’s floating around the neighborhood. There’s a communication gap when it comes to crime in America where police are usually the last ones to find out anything. And so in every neighborhood, there's a “Jamal” — there's somebody who's been killed, and their killer hasn’t been brought to justice. And so that's the conversation that me and my son are having, coming from two generations with each of us seeing it from our different points of view. It's one of my favorite records, and we’ve already shot a great video for it.
Is the idea that Jamal is somebody Caiden’s age?
The idea that Jamal was somebody. Whether he's Caiden's age, or even if he's my age, he's somebody. He’s somebody’s son. When a person is murdered, there are multiple sides to death. The family is experiencing death through their mourning. The person who committed the murder is experiencing death because their life forever changes. Whether that's through going to jail, whether that's due to the energy that they bring in the form of trauma or a generational curse. And there’s the death of innocence.
Mortality as a byproduct of violence has always been a theme in hip-hop. But the morality conversation has expanded recently as we have lost rappers to health conditions. Prodigy fought sickle cell disease for several years, Phife Dawg died from complications connected to diabetes, and J Dilla succumbed to cardiac arrest after struggling with lupus. How did your friendships with those guys affect how you processed your diagnosis?
Well, there’s a need in hip-hop, especially for way more communication and understanding about what some of these conditions are and what can and can't be done about them. Just so there's a realistic expectation. At one point I was 100 pounds and my pancreas had stopped making insulin and I didn’t know how much longer I had to live. But I listened to the doctors and followed the treatments and did things like totally give up bread, and now my pancreas has started a reversal process and a healing process. I give all credit to the Creator for that. But I took every measure I could and I'm monitoring my health as closely as I can because of what I saw happened with Prodigy and Phife and JD. We have all this history that we hold in hip-hop and in an African American community that is partially due to inadvertent negligence. So I'm trying to stay on top of this and be honest with people about what I’ve been through and what I’m going through.
Caiden is in this unique position because you can help open the door to many opportunities for him, but at the same time, you guys are having serious discussions about your health. How do you balance helping him understand the gravity of living with an autoimmune disease without overwhelming him with fear?
My approach is to always come from a place of hope. It's my job as his dad to emotionally support him before I give him hard facts. It's not an easy task. But at the end of the day, my number one job as my son's dad is to be his emotional support.
Have you incorporated any practices or had anything that's helped you become more emotionally present over the last five years to really kind of beef up your ability to do that for him?
When your mortality is put in front of you, you have to reassess how you process emotions. Some things Caiden does that may have been a trigger for disciplinary action or anger don’t weigh the same now. My value system changed in terms of what things were worth haggling about with my son and what things I let roll off my back.
What's been one of the things you've had to learn to let roll off your back more?
Kids do all kinds of crazy shit. Like, they get up into some shade and get hyper and wild. I had to realize that my son is an adventurer and an explorer, so he has an adventure going on in his head half the time. A lot of the hyper stuff he does is because of that adventure mindset, not because he’s trying to be bad.
Are there any experiences the two of you haven’t had yet that you're most looking forward to providing him at some point?
I’m looking forward to teaching him how to drive. God willing, I would love to be able to buy him his own car and everything. That's something I didn't get to do with my dad. I think I did drive his car a couple of times, but I didn’t do it often because I was living with my mom.
Sometimes, I'll take Caiden to a car dealership and just let him see the cars. Sometimes will sit in the really expensive ones and check them out. That's like some real father-and-son shit, and I feel like those will be some fire memories that he looks back on someday.
Consequence's album Nice Doing Business With You will be released on October 21, 2022.