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Afro-Latino: 6 Women Open Up About Being Black And Latina

“It’s a brown thing, baby. And black is beautiful.”

“We got a little bit of black in us!” is what the Puerto Ricans that I grew up around in the South Bronx used to joke. The idea that blackness was something beyond skin color never made much sense back then. But the older I got, the more I realized how prevalent those African roots were in my own Dominican heritage. “It’s a brown thing, baby," an aunt once told me. “And black is beautiful.”

Being Latino is complex enough. With all the cultures, religions, traditions, geographical compositions and mosaic of hues encompassed, it can be hard for Latinos to define themselves, and damn near impossible for someone on the outside to fully absorb the multiplicity of Latino culture. Now add Afro or black into the mix, and the questions about cultural makeup and identity are endless. But the reality is that these two identities are far from mutually exclusive, and have been speaking to each other for eons.

VIBE VIVA solicited a number of responses to the question: "What does it mean to be both black and Latino?" The narratives we collected were each told from the perspective of a woman; they share what it really means for them to grow up black and Latino. Because as Christy Martinez points out, it can be incredibly complicated, and especially conflicting if it meant "denying our blackness after generations of exposure to political and societal anti-blackness."

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Christy Martinez, 23, Bronx, New York
Being raised in a typical Dominican household meant many things. It meant listening to lots of merengue and bachata (especially as you cleaned the house). It meant being raised Catholic despite the fact that everyone contradicted all its doctrines. It meant having pride in our deep roots of revolution. But it also often meant denying our blackness after generations of exposure to political and societal anti-blackness.

I was taught since childhood to only acknowledge conventional beauty. To flaunt my light eyes and fair skin. To only be attracted to someone who would "advance my blood line," and to ultimately hate who I really was; a Latina of AFRICAN descent.

Once I started learning about my African roots, it felt as though I discovered a couple chapters of my life's story that had been hidden. Interestingly, a lot of what I discovered showed me just how much Latinos have in common with Africans and the multitude of ways our cultures crossover into one another. So much of our foods, music, dance, dialect and lifestyle have been influenced by Africa. It's a shame there's not more acknowledgement of it, because our similarities hold the key to our unity.

Being an Afro-Latina means not having to apologize for my blackness anymore. I've found pride in the not-so-convenient features I was told to hide, like my kinky curly hair, round lips, thick hips and wide nose. It means using my powerful voice to talk about the plight of Afro-Latinos in the world through the lens of a woman, because we are a silent majority who matter too. Ultimately, this new-found identity is an opportunity to continue to find myself and inspire others to stop accepting the labels of society and do the same. Being an Afro-Latina has changed me life, I will never be the same... and I'm thankful for that.

A photo posted by Maña Maña (@diomara_d) on


Diomara Delvalle, 26, Brooklyn, New York
Growing up as a black Latina was actually very confusing for me. When people would ask "what are you?" and I would reply "Panamanian." The answer would almost always be: "Wait, so you're Latina? I thought you were black?" This was always a very exhausting question to answer and explain.

My family knows they are black people (people of African descent), so this was never something we had to discuss. Because I went to school in Panama for a short period of time, I saw all the various races and colors Latinx people can come in. Having interactions with lighter Latinx people and non-Latinx people as a child left me questioning myself.

Was I black? Was I Latina?

It was not until I researched the history of Panama did I have a firm understanding of my background. It was not until I Googled the definitions of race and ethnicity did I realize you can FULLY be both.

Afro-Latinx was not a term I used growing up. However, I'm glad it was created because there is growing visibility of Latinx people of African Descent. This term also sparks conversation that either enlightens people or exposes them for their ignorance and/or anti-blackness. Needless to say, being Afro-Latina is amazing. So much culture.

A photo posted by Shyane (@shy__ane) on


Shyane Dejesus, 27, Astoria, Queens
My Afro Latina-ism is different from yours or any one else's. Yeah, some may argue that we are one, but in retrospect, we're not. I personally don't identify with Colombian culture [for example] just as much as I don't identify with white culture. And that's because I'm the product of a mother who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, who later came to Brooklyn and met my daddy, who was born and raised in Brownsville—Brooklyn to be exact.

It wasn't until recently that I found out my dad's dad is actually from Trinidad. Let me also point out I don't relate to Trinidadian culture either. So you might ask: "Well who the hell do you relate to?" My answer is ME.

My Afro Latina consists of permed hair (trying to go natural), black cousins, growing up laughing obliviously to racist jokes, playing double dutch, being the only nine-year-old that could braid hair, do my own hair, and yep, I was that chunky girl who ate too much beef patties with coco bread.

It wasn't until my late 20s that I learnedAfro-Latina was even a term. I just always said that I was black and Puerto Rican, and let me tell y'all I said it with pride. I was never ashamed to be from either side. It's when I became older that I chose to identify with being ONLY black (due to ignorance). I don't speak Spanish, my mom only speaks Spanish to her mom, and to be honest, a majority of my friends are black because I grew up in predominantly black neighborhoods. I speak "black slang," I have "black" hair, my brothers are black, my boyfriend is black and let's not forget my daddy is black. I also grew up with a family who was and still is unapologetically black.

It's actually quite simple: I'm a black girl who identifies with Puerto Rican culture, and yeah I'm obsessed with arroz con pollo just as much as I'm obsessed with macaroni and collard greens.

A photo posted by Kayla S Z Fory (@kaylafory) on


Kayla Zapata Fory, 24, Accra, Ghana
On my identity as an Afro-Colombiana: Being black and Latina is not mutually exclusive, I am proud to identify as both. Learning to accept mi afro-latinidad has been a winding journey, exploring the mosaic of my cultural identity. I look in the mirror and am reminded that the roots of mi pelo afro extend to Africa, just as my favorite sancocho. I am humbled by the resilience of my people and derive strength from ancestors that have come before me.


Jasmyn Santiago, 25, Jacksonville, Florida
Identity crisis! For as long as I can remember, my race and ethnicity has always been questioned. I am pretty certain many Afro-Latinas have struggled to figure out where they "fit in." Too light skinned to be black and hair too kinky to really be "Hispanic."

Growing up, I never knew "what I was." Many times I would be asked was one of my parent's white because I "have" to be mixed with something. Being asked "So do you speak Puerto Rican" and feeling shamed when you let them know you don't speak Spanish. Sitting through standardized tests or job applications trying to figure out which box to check: "black, non-Hispanic" or "Hispanic" (with no option to be black and Latina).

Truth is, Hispanic is my ethnicity, Black is my race, and American is my nationality. I am a black Hispanic-American. When will [people] ever get that right? An ex-employer has even asked me "So, you're black today," as if I could choose when to switch off any portions of who I am at any given time.

Having to explain yourself to everyone posing the question, "What are you," is exhausting. Who am I? It was not until I became an adult that this became clear. I am the best of both worlds. My heritage runs deep. My Hispanic roots and my African roots intermingle. My ancestors can all be traced back to the same place.... Mother Africa. I love being Latina. The Hispanic culture is rich in all we do. My PR flag is raised high. We are proud and not quiet about it.

And I love being black—descendant of the most resilient people. Spreading my #blackgirlmagic everywhere I go and I don't care who it bothers. Ultimately, I had to learn that being Afro-Latina was truly something unique and beautiful. It gave me the outlet to educate others about my culture. It definitely has its challenges, but I love it. When I became comfortable with who I am, I realized I don't have to choose sides... I just am! I'm both and so proud of it! To choose one side over the other is deny parts of what makes me who I am. I am all-inclusive! I do not have to validate my blackness or my Hispanic roots to anyone. If me being Afro-Latina confuses you, I'm sorry—not sorry.


Damary Caraballo, 32, Bronx, New York
I didn't embrace my full Afro Latina-ness until my late '20s. As I reflect now, I think it was because my light skinned, green eyed abuela treated her brown skinned grandkids differently as opposed to the ones who had a more fair skin tone. [I also encountered] black women who disliked me for dating "their men."

Growing up, I felt like Latinas and African American girls were always divided—even after Big Pun and Fat Joe had us screaming "Boricua, morena." But I've always yelled out both with full pride!

My abuela's apparent disdain for the darker side of the family and blatant favoritism for the lighter probably did the most damage to my self esteem growing up. She made me feel like black was ugly, being black was a joke, from calling my cousin from the "lighter side" whose father was African a "monkey" to reminding us "no dañe la raza" [don't ruin our race] because we came out like her, attracted to the chocolate skin and she felt like 5 kids later she had made a mistake by marrying my grandfather.

As an adult, I understand that her failed relationship with my grandfather, who was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico—he looked like he was straight from the motherland—was what drove my abuela's hate. It was that hate that fueled my pride. I realized what got to her, what got under her skin, and I flaunted my blackness even more. It was on my grandmother's death bed when she asked me and my [black] boyfriend when we planned on having babies. I knew that was her way of apologizing and I accepted it.

What did being black and Latina mean to me back then? Not being black enough and "wanting to be down" in the eyes of black women. It meant feeling like a disgrace in the eyes of a light skinned Latina. What does it mean to me now? Strength, Goddess, Magic, the best of both worlds. Power that no one can take away, not through shame nor ignorance.

 

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VIBE Vault: Jada Pinkett Smith Talks Motherhood, Marriage & Sexiness In May 2001 Issue

Ever since playing streetwise Lena James on the college-campus sitcom A Different World, Jada Pinkett Smith has portrayed many a sexy shortie with attitude, boast a tough-as-nails swagger with a dash of vulnerability. Her film career—highlighted by Menace II Society, A Low Down Dirty Shame, Set It Off, Jason’s Lyric, and Woo—has been dotted with every possible permutation of the strong ghetto girl in distress.

But with mature roles like Bamboozled’s socially conscious Sloan Hopkins tucked under her belt, the Baltimore native who once spit verse with a teenaged Tupac Shakur in high school is proving to be more than the stereotypical neck-swiveling drama queen. Pinkett Smith has taken on a roster of challenging characters: exploring family matters in Fox Searchlight’s April release Kingdom Come, as well as starring in the highly anticipated pictures Ali (with husband Will Smith) and The Matrix 2 and 3.

But don’t think this woman is strictly business. The 29-year-old feels the upside of growing pains in both her professional and personal lives. As the mother of two youngsters (Jaden Christopher Syre, 2, and Willow Camille Reign, 6 months) and stepmom to 6-year-old Trey, Pinkett Smith is macking the maternal lifestyle—juggling play circles, early morning call times, and a little conjugal nookie on the side with the talented Mr. Smith. This pint-size fireplug’s still got teeth-gritting edge.

VIBE: Tell me about your character Charisse in Kingdom Come. I hear she’s pretty headstrong.

Jada Pinkett Smith: Definitely, but she’s a fool. She’s really self centered and headstrong about all the wrong things; she can’t see outside of herself. The patriarch of the family has passed away, and her focus is still all about her. It’s like, Sis, it's not all about you right now.

Co-starring with LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg, Vivica A. Fox, Toni Braxton, et al, you’re doing another movie with a predominantly black cast. But you know what they say about working with our people…

It’s always been such a pleasure working with black directors and black casts, because you don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining yourself. It’s the same reasons why white people do all white films. These are the people you can relate to, that have the same experiences as you. I’ve never had any drama, only love. Like in Set It Off: There was so much buzz that there was going to be some drama with four black women working together, but that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a film.

You’re married to Anthony Anderson’s character in Kingdom Come. Can we expect any love scenes like you’ve done in the past? We all remember you rolling in the grass with Allen Payne in Jason’s Lyric.

None of that anymore. My older son is a little bit too old for me to be doing that if it’s not with his dad [laughter]! That part of my life is in the past. I’ve got sons now, and I’ve got a little girl. That was the other, younger Jada, who didn’t have any other responsibilities but to herself. Now I’ve got to think about my kids.

Of all the characters you’ve played—from manslaying Woo to stand-by-you-man Lyricto gangsta-boo Stoney to knucklehead Charisse—which of your roles is filled with the most Jada?

I really wasn’t in a space of maturity with that character to really fall into the depths of Lyric’s vulnerable space as I would’ve liked to. I think about it today, and I go, Wow, I could have done this and done this. That was another side of myself that I wasn’t comfortable showing yet. And from A Low Down Dirty Shame, Peaches was basically Jada at that time but to the third power. Set It Off was definitely Jada to another level. Stony was rah-rah but not that rah-rah [laughter]! That’s exactly how I would be—scared but [knowing I] gotta do my thing. Woo was truly the other side of Jada, like Honey, please talk to the hand [laughter].

If Woo was your alter ego, how did you deal with trifling men before you met Will? 

The best punishment is just to be out. There's so much you can take, I was definitely one of those chicks that would hang in there for a minute trying to week it out. But once I realized in my head that it just wasn't it, I rolled. Then niggas was was like, “Well, where you going?” I was like, Man. I told you. You saw me hanging in there with your crazy ass, trying to work this out. You know what I'm saying? Now you want to know where I am? I’m somewhere not with you.

Was there a specific incident? 

Nothing really, because when I was younger, I wasn't living right either. I can't really say that someone did anything so bad to me, because whatever they did, I deserved it.

Jada Pinkett Smith is a former playa-playa in repentance? 

You can say it however you want [laughter].. I was young in Hollywood. I didn't know about relationship and commitment. Unfortunately, that's something that we're not really taught, especially in our households. Most of us come from very dysfunctional places. Will is the first monogamous relationship I've had. I never knew what it took to have a healthy relationship or what commitment was all about.

How have the kids impacted your coochie-cooing sessions with Will?

HA HA [big laughter]!!! Well, shoot, kids are always going to put a little damper on that parade, but not so much that you can’t handle your business. They come, and, once again, you have that transition period where you have to find your groove within this new lifestyle you've been given. But it hasn't been drama. We've handled it very well [naughty laughter]. 

Inquiring minds want to know the real deal with Will Smith. Does he come correct in the boudoir? 

I'll just say this one absolute fact. For all the women who want to know, all the women in the VIBE world: Will puts it down! I could not be married or be monogamous with anybody who didn't. That's real [big laughter]! All I have to do is look at Will, and everything gets turned on from that. I'm pretty much an easy catch. He’s got beautiful eyes, and his physique now is out of control ‘cause of Ali. Yeaaahhh… It doesn’t take much for my buttons to get pushed. 

But Will is tall, maybe 6’2”, and you're so petite. 

It doesn't matter. Size doesn't matter. He says this all the time: I can't come at him in a bad way. And I’m like, Whatever, Daddy—just bring it. That's why we're such a happy couple. We can't be mad too long. 

It's great to have such a strong physical connection. 

And also the spiritual connection. The friendship even deepens sexual connection. When all of that is tied in together, it never gets tired. You have your times when you're kind of slow—if you're working, or during pregnancy. That's why it's important to have that friendship and that spiritual connection. That's what keeps it all together until the physical aspect of it booms back in, because everybody has their slow times.

Your children will grow up faster than you realize. What kind of relationship advice will you give them? 

You basically have to go with the flow. I know for my daughter, I probably won't put restrictions on her in a [harsh] way, because, being female myself. I understand the type of freedom a young girl needs. But when I talk about freedom, I mean you have to have a sense of responsibility. That's very difficult in our culture, because we're basically selling being a ho as what it is to be a woman today. If you're not a ho, then you're not really down or you're not really hip. I don't talk about freedom in that sense—basically just giving it away to whomever you want. There was a time when black women were very uptight about their sexuality. I think right now we're going through a space where we're finding our freedom as far as our sexuality, but I think we're going to our next extreme. We're going to find that middle ground. I hope by the time my daughter is of age we'll be at that space.

You're considered one of the sexiest people in Hollywood. What’s your definition of sexiness?

Really [laughter]? Well that is quite an honor. I'm learning as I get older, because I haven't always been this way. I'm gaining a better understanding as I mature that what people are attracted to most of all—and especially my husband, who's pretty much the only person I have to worry about these days—is beyond my physical. I'll be 30 this year. I'm moving into a whole other space of my womanhood! So I've kind of outgrown that whole, well let me go out with my short skirts on, with my stomach out or my bust up. I don't necessarily think that's something I have to do. I feel like I've been there like hardcore [laughter]. I might go back to feeling like that. Now I'm finally feeling like a woman, whereas before I was a little girl just trying to be a woman. Now I'm really feeling myself. Trust that with Kingdom Come, Matrix 2 and 3, and Ali, y'all will see a whole new Jada. Believe me. Y’all bouts to see it like y'all haven't seen it. 

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This article originally appeared in VIBE's May 2001 issue. Written by Brett Johnson | Photography by: Isabel Snyder and others.

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'The Old Guard' Celebrates Women On Both Sides Of The Lens, Says Director Gina Prince-Bythewood & Actress KiKi Layne

Gina Prince-Bythewood is not new to this. Her decades-long screenwriting credits go back as far as 1992 when she contributed to the Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World. Her directorial debut happened nearly 10 years later with her 2000 film, Love & Basketball which grossed over $27 million in the U.S. box office and went on to become a black cinematic classic. Since then, Bythewood directed more films like The Secret Life of Bees (2008) and Beyond the Lights (2014). Today, Bythewood is stepping away from the dramatic and romantic films of yesteryear and making her mark in the genre of action films with the new Netflix movie, The Old Guard.

Based on the comic book by Greg Rucka, The Old Guard stars lead actresses Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Hancock) and KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son). Theron plays Andy, an immortal mercenary recruited for a mission to protect the mortal world. Layne plays Nile, a U.S. Marine recruited to join the badass task force. Before her "rebirth" into her new eternal life as a soldier, she learns about life as an Old Guard, what she'll stand to gain and lose as undying warrior and more.

Upon receiving the script, Bythewood was "incredibly excited" and happy to have an opportunity where she could not only take on a different type of cinema but also bring a young Black female hero to life and into the spotlight. "I knew the type of action film I wanted to do, an action drama," she says in an interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "And I knew absolutely when I got the opportunity, that I wanted us [Black people] to be in it." And that we are. With actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) taking on a supporting role, Layne holds her own in the action-packed feature film as she tests her body's limits in scene after scene. The rising star would be sure to let you know how physicalities set her and her character apart.

"I mean I love the opportunity to be that physical," she says. "Nile still has so much heart and, being led by Gina, being encouraged to dig deeper into that and to not be afraid of her vulnerability, which was exciting. So I kind of play that, but then still play that physical strength and being a Marine and all of that. So I would say that would actually be the biggest difference between us."

The Prince-Bythewood and Layne sat with Belle to discuss the limitations around the term "Black cinema," being a part of a film that has Black women in front and behind the lens, and what they hope for The Old Guard's impact 20 years from now.

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On how music inspires her screenwriting:

Prince-Bythewood: Music is everything to my process. When I start to write, I create soundtracks for myself too. If it's just songs that either speak to what I'm writing or open me up emotionally to what I'm about to write. I have soundtracks for myself for directing, and then I create soundtracks as I'm editing. It's everything and I love doing songs for score. I love the traditional score, but I also love songs for scores. And those are songs that just help elevate the scene, add a little bit more emotion. It doesn't take over the scene, but it absolutely aides it and songs tell such a story...I love soundtracks, it goes back to Purple Rain. Where you could listen to that soundtrack and then watch the movie again in your head because the songs were that distinct, that's what I love to do with my films.

On the Black women she pulled influence from when preparing for her role:

Layne: Black women who I find to be strong and just maybe haven't seen it represented that way on film. Honestly, just thinking about my mom. Angela Bassett was the biggest example of strength. Who else was I thinking of? Those are like the first students to kind of pop in my head of just like, especially with Angela, the way that she just carries herself. There's such pride and dignity and integrity to her that I just, I mean love. Period. But it was definitely something that, when thinking of Nile, trying to bring some of that in there as well.

On the limiting term "Black cinema" as it relates to Hollywood:

The term "Black cinema" is not a negative to me, nor to us. My issue with it is with Hollywood. In terms of Hollywood using that to describe any film that has a black person in it. So suddenly they feel like, "Oh, we've done our one black film." As opposed to, "We should be in every single genre. Sci-fi, Western, love stories, period pieces." That's who we are, that's the breadth of our humanity, that's what I want to see. I just don't want to limit us, but I revel and celebrate black cinema and black film.

On how they would like The Old Guard to be remembered 20 years from now:

Layne: In 20 years from now, I would hope that it would be, you won't necessarily remember, but as a, I don't know, a piece of getting Hollywood to tell more of these types of stories with women at the lead in front of and behind the camera. I'm hoping that it will be an opportunity that leads to more doors like this being opened. Just showing that we're just as capable and it's just as interesting when we do it.

Prince-Bythewood: And then I'll just add in 20 years, if people are still watching this film that says it all, that this film had longevity, it spoke to them and it was a world and it's characters that they wanted to see again and live with again. And as artists, I think that's a pretty incredible thing.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

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Watch: Rodney Jerkins Talks Producing On ‘The High Note’ Soundtrack, Andre Harrell And How His Dad Sparked His Career In ‘Billboard’

When you think of your favorite R&B and pop hits by Brandy, Destiny's Child, Mary J. Blige, and Michael Jackson, you can't help but think about the musical genius behind the tracks: Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. Since his start in the music industry at the young age of 14 (under the mentorship of legendary musician Teddy Riley and his father Pastor Fredrick Jerkins), the Grammy-winning producer has created songs across countries, genres, and mediums.  To date, Jerkins has contributed to over 115 movie and television series soundtracks with his first credit for Joe's "Don't Wanna Be a Player" (not be confused with Big Pun's hit) on the 1996 Booty Call soundtrack.

His latest accomplishment is serving as the executive music producer for the new video-on-demand film, The High Note, starring actress Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of the legendary Diana Ross. In the Nisha Ganatra-directed  film, Ross plays Grace Davis, a diva and iconic singer who has to "choose between playing it safe or listening to her heart in a decision that could change her life forever." Weeks prior to The High Note's premiere, Focus Features and Republic Records released "Love Myself," the lead single from the movie's soundtrack, which features Ross singing on her very first musical recording. As the film's executive music producer, Jerkins worked with her on another track, "Stop For A Minute," and helped Ross become comfortable with laying down tracks in a music recording studio, an experience she'd only witnessed second-hand while her mother worked on music.

"When we first started, that was Tracy's first time in the booths," says Jerkins about working with Ross. "That can become somewhat intimidating. I said, 'Tracy just trust me. I've worked with every artist. I've worked with actresses who had to sing before.' I said, 'This is what I do. Just have trust that we'll get through it.' As we started to work, her confidence started to build and she started to understand what it took."

VIBE and Cory Taylor of R&B Spotlight had a chance to sit down with Jerkins to talk about his extensive career, working on the official soundtrack for The High Note, his advice for upcoming producers, and more.

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On when he got the call to be a part of the film's soundtrack:

I was in Florida at home and Mike Knobloch, the head of music at Universal, he called me one day. He was just like, "Man, I got a prize that I think you would be perfect for. Would you mind reading the script?" I said, "Yes, send me the script." And this was crazy. I was actually working with an artist at the time. I have this artist named Jac Ross and I was just listening to Lee Moses because Jack has this super soulful voice. In the script, the first scene had a Lee Moses song. I called Mike before reading the rest of the script. I was like, "Yo, this is mine." I said, "The first song. I just studied Lee Moses two days ago." So the fact that the first song in the scene was a Lee Moses song called "Bad Girl," I was like, this is mine.

On how his Dad sparked his start in the music business:

I got started with Teddy Riley working in Virginia Beach. I was kind of this apprentice down there. I was 14 when I first met Teddy. Every summer I'd go down there and just kind of sit and learn. I would go back home and work on stuff and work on ideas. It wasn't really until I was probably 16 or 17 when I really got my first songs heard by record companies, and people started paying attention saying, "Yo, there's this kid in New Jersey." I think what really sparked that and my father, who was mentoring me at the time, I think I said to him one day, "I got all this good music, but nobody knows who I am, because I'm from South Jersey, Pleasantville." There's no outlet down there. My dad invested money out of his own pocket, and he bought this ad in Billboard.

At first, people thought he was crazy because there were no ads in Billboard. Like if you looked through Billboard, it was just charts. For some reason my dad, he bought this ad and in this ad it said: "Super producer." I was young and wasn't a super-producer yet. He put this ad in and 50% of the people laughing at it were saying, "Yo, this is crazy. This dude is crazy." You had the other 50% of people calling and saying, "Yo, we want to meet."

 

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Dad, Thanks for instilling in me Christ at an early age. It’s because of you I choose to lead my family in that same direction. You’ve given me so many great moments as a child growing up. Believing in me when others didn’t. Pushing me to greatness. Being unconventional with your approach is exactly the way I do things to this day. Demanding respect from my counterparts. Not being taken advantage of, and being prayerful about everything. These are the life lessons and qualities you have given me. By watching you apply all of these things in your life I’ve learned to do the same. I appreciate you and love you dearly! HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!

A post shared by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (@rodneyjerkins) on Jun 21, 2020 at 4:51pm PDT

On his fondest memory of the late Andre Harrell:

He would call me up when I wasn't working with him. I remember when I did "Deja Vu" for Beyonce and Jay-Z. I was in New York City, the song was out, and Andre called and said, "Yo, where you at?" I said, "I'm in this old studio." "I'm coming to see you right now. I'm coming to see you right now." I ain't know what he wanted. He came up to the studio. He was like, "Playboy, playboy. Do you know what you just did? Do you know what you just gave this girl?" And I was like, "Nah," because I'm just keeping it moving.

He's like, "Man, you gave her Michael Jackson, 2005, like you gave her the Michael Jackson 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough' for a female like this." I was like, "What you mean?" He was like, "The way you put the horns with the live bass and the drums, and still knocking with the 808, people aren't doing that." He was so animated when he spoke to you. He made you believe there's something much greater in yourself. That was my guy, man. He did that constantly with me. He would be like that all the time. I'm talking about even like three months ago, like in February, we had a similar conversation.

Advice to up and coming producers looking to get their foot in the music business:

First, I would say study all the greats that came before you. I'm not talking in the last 10, 20 years. I'm talking about going back, going back to Barry Gordy days, and study them. Study sound. Every sound and every genre possible. Don't be a one-trick pony. Be able to produce any type of genre. I would also say be different. What I mean by that, a lot of technology has allowed it for producers to become easy, but it's also become easy in the same sonic, in the same sound. All the tools are the same. You have everybody using the same tools right now. It all starts to sound the same. I would tell producers to challenge themselves to be different. Be unique, be different.

On his future plans to produce music for films: 

I'm going to continue to do movies. I've made it my thing. I can't say it right now, but it looks like I got another movie coming my way right now. With the same company, by the way. I'm going to continue to do it because I love it. I think it brings out a whole different side of emotion for me. It allows me to create differently. Sometimes we get caught up in what's popping at radio, what's popping streaming...I would love to do more in the TV and film realm because I just think that's the natural progression for me and my career.

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