In today’s time, it’s hard to maintain a family and the Black family is constantly decreasing. Hip-Hop legend Rev-Run and his wife Justine, stars of the hit television show “Run’s House” have released their new book in hopes of bringing that bond back together. Checking in with Hip-Hop Wired, the couple speaks on their latest project and the trials and tribulations of raising kids in today’s ever changing and challenging world.
HipHopWired: The title of the book is Take Back Your Family How To Raise Respectful and Loving Kids In a Dysfunctional World…what do you think is causing this divide that’s pulling people’s families apart?
Rev Run: Anything precious to you will be attacked, anything that’s good, will be challenged. Divorce rates are high because that’s something that’s good. Anything that you wanna have will be challenged. You wanna look good? A cheeseburger’s gonna challenge you. Everything that’s good has something that’s trying to make you work for it. There it is. You have to take back your family. You can’t be reactive you have to be proactive.
HipHopWired: Right. Speaking of divorce, that was my next topic. In the Black community, 2/3 of all marriages end in divorce, but your marriage to Justine seems so seamless and smooth. What advice did you give to couples on marriage?
Rev Run: You just have to give in. You have to want to love this person more than you want to put your opinion across to be right. You have to be able to give in. You have to get rid of ego and say okay I might even be right but it doesn’t matter, I love you too much. Black people have big egos and they wanna be right and there are a lot of blame placers. I just give in a lot and if I make a mistake, I’m ready to say sorry. If I don’t mistake I still say sorry. I want my marriage more than I want my ego.
HipHopWired: I know they don’t show it on the show, but do you guys argue a lot?
Rev Run: No, we show it on the show too. We bicker on some stuff. Arguments happen, accidents happen, things like losing babies, Jo Jo smoking weed, things happen and by the time you hear about it on the news, the cameras are at my house. We address issues for a lot of reasons. First of all so we can get past them. Second of all so people that look up to us can see that we’re human and that it happens to everybody, so here’s how the Rev’s gonna handle this. Here’s how Justine’s gonna handle this. So you can grab strength from us.
HipHopWired: Exactly and strength is so important. Justine I know you had to be strong after the loss of your baby. How was the transition from having older kids to having a new baby with the adoption of baby Miley?
Justine: Believe it or not, me wanting to have a baby came out of nowhere. I kept saying I’m finished, I’m finished after Russy and then it’s weird. I think when Vanessa and Angela moved out, I had that empty nest syndrome because I did miss them a lot. I still do. I think that made me want to have a baby. I always wanted to adopt and we just said, why don’t we just have our own if we want one. So I said okay and of course we learned that we don’t make babies, God does. We lost our baby and that’s what made me go back to adoption. Another thing I do have to say is for women, you really have to be ready when you’re older, you really gotta have the energy. The kids help me so much because they love it, which is great. They love her so much and they help out but you just gotta be really, really prepared. It’s such a blessing and you’re not thinking about it, you just do it. It was a little nerve racking, like wow, I haven’t done this in so long. I can’t lie, I was so nervous.
HipHopWired: Now you just brought up how you miss Angela and Vanessa, and my question to you is, how did you get so close to Rev’s previous children? It’s almost like you’re not even their step-mom because everything seems so natural with you all. How did that happen? How’d you guys get so close?
Justine: You know it’s so funny because sometimes I have to check myself like, chill out! Sometimes I feel like even if I’m talking to my husband about them, sometimes I act like I am their mother and sometimes I have to tell myself, whoa chill. I think because I look at them like, no kid dealing with divorce wants to be in that situation. Number 1 it’s not their fault, so for me to treat them mean because they have a different mother is so wrong. They’re little, they’re innocent, they don’t know any better. So for me to treat them mean, there’s no way. I feel like I don’t care how much you say you love this man or you love this woman, if you treat their child wrong, you do not love them. There’s no way, I don’t care. Yeah I know kids can be mean, or the other parent could be saying stuff but that doesn’t mean you have to treat them mean. A lot of kids that go into these situations, it’s supposed to be known that their parent is mean and I just pray that people will be more open.
HipHopWired: Justine, let’s talk more about the girls. A lot of little girls look up to Vanessa and Angela for being such great role models and so many girls took to Angela in particular after it came out that she took a vow to have sex until marriage. What advice can you give to mothers to get their own girls to follow in that same direction?
Justine: I think one thing that helps is by letting your child know how in power they are. How much they keep their power, when they try and keep themself. Just tell them how powerful it makes them that they care about themselves. I think it has a lot to do with the mom and dad giving them enough love or mom or dad or uncle, we want people to know that this book is not only for married couples. It’s for single people also. We want women to know that even if you don’t have any men figures, there’s so many clubs you can get your kids involved in that have men in there and vice versa. There’s Girl Scouts to teach you how to cook and things even if you don’t have time as a mom to get out there and do it. There’s groups that will be there for your child. I feel that the reason Angela took that stance is because she sees that a lot guys out there, once they get that, they’re just going to keep it moving. They keep it moving. To me that makes me feel like she has so many layers. I’m very, very proud of her. She has a very nice boyfriend now that’s older but he knows. He knows the deal and he respects that and if he doesn’t I pray that she keeps this going and she tells him, okay beat it.
HipHopWired: So the girls are known for being positive role models but your entire family as a unit is one of the few representations of a positive Black family on television. How does it feel to be role models for families nationwide?
Justine: A lot of people tell us that we helped them, we made their family get closer, I think that’s what we were here to do with MTV. Even with the death of Victoria (miscarriage), so many women told me Justine you helped me move forward. This whole “Run’s House,” it’s not about us. It’s about what he’s trying to do. The whole situation with Jo Jo getting arrested for weed, that wasn’t about us. That was about other parents going through what we went through, what to do, trying to move on from it. Trying to be in your kids’ lives because no matter if you’re a preacher or not, these kids are going to try and do whatever the heck they want to do. I go in Diggy’s room and I wanna know, did you turn off your computer? You know, why you gotta turn off the computer when I walk in. Don’t just let them do that, I will say I used to do that with Jo Jo. I used to walk into his room and he’d cut it off and I’d say, okay I guess he wants to be private. No privacy! You’re in my house!
HipHopWired: Right. So Rev, let’s talk more about Jo Jo. How do you reprimand your son for doing the exact same thing you did in the past?
Rev Run: I told him he was selfish on the show, I don’t know if you saw that episode. I said when you went to jail, you took us all to jail. Number 1, you’re in a different predicament than me. I wasn’t Jo Jo I was Run. I’m totally different. I couldn’t have had my father on TMZ, he wasn’t an entertainer. I didn’t have as much to protect, I didn’t have all this over me, all these expectations like that. He has a different situation, he just came off a show, he got a BMW, life is different. There’s no reason for him to do the things he does so, yeah, give him a pass a little bit but there’s consequences here Jo Jo. Alright, how’d you like jail last night? Was it fun? How’d you like us being all over TMZ? Let’s make an episode out of this…I know you don’t like the cops, I know you don’t like your dad with the collar right now, I know you don’t like how we’re gonna make this an episode. So a lot came out of it and it’s up to him now to see if he’s gonna be smart and say, that was a little too edgy for me. You never know what the hell a kid might do. You know maybe he was scared, maybe not scared enough. I hope he was scared enough, all I can do now is pray.
HipHopWired: So how is Jo Jo now? Is he doing better?
Rev Run: Yeah Jo Jo’s doing good. He works at Global Grind. He goes to work everyday at Uncle Russell ‘s office. I don’t know where his mind totally is but I spoke to him yesterday and said, I just want you to know that I love ya and I hope that you’re happy and can be happy. That’s all I can do, there’s nothing more I can do for him but give him love.
HipHopWired: What about the other boys? How are Diggy and Russy? I know a lot of times at their age they think they’re too cool to hang out with mom and dad. How do you guys get them to want to spend time with you guys as a family?
Justine: I was never like that with my parents. Diggy…oh my God, he doesn’t want us to come up to his school and you would think he would want his father to come. Oh my God, no, worse person to come up to his school. Russy, he don’t want you to get out the car. As far as a vacation, we make them go, number 1. You don’t have a choice and it’s funny because the ones that say they don’t wanna go, those are the ones that have the most fun. Same with Jo Jo, the Hawaii trip, he didn’t wanna say it on air but he said to me, my husband and the boys…..he said, “I just want y’all to know, we’re really lucky that we have parents who really love us and care about us.” You I know I started crying, child. He said, “I really didn’t wannna come on the trip but I’m really glad I did. I’m glad I got to spend time with you Diggy and Russy and I’m glad I got to spend time with you ma.” I was just a mess.
HipHopwired: Speaking of spending time together as a family, on the show you guys are constantly together. Justine you’ve got your Brown Sugar jewelry collection, Run you’ve got Run Athletics and all your other entrepreneurial endeavors, if t wasn’t for the show would you guys still spend that much time together as a family or would your busy schedules prohibit that?
Justine: Well see that’s what we try and tell people. People constantly ask us how do you let people come into your lives? It’s because we worked on this before the show. It’s almost like my husband’s job, our family. He takes it like, this is our job…to raise this family. I’m constantly always trying to get everybody together. Sometimes they’ll laugh because we’ll be coming home from vacation and I’m trying to set up another one. It’s so funny because I’m always trying to think of ways to bring the family together. Even on the episode with Hawaii, we were thinking about the next trip. We feel that’s what will make you take your family back.
HipHopWired: Right. Let’s change gears here and bring it back to you Rev. As a hip-Hop, legend how do you balance your strong religious beliefs as a pastor with your support of a secular industry?
Rev Run: Well you’ve got Rev Run on MTV showing you something else so the balance becomes, okay there’s “Scarface” on Channel 2 and there’s the “Cosby’s” on Channel 4. It’s going down like this here and it’s going down like that there. You got a bunch of different choices. Life is a big buffet, stick your hand in and grab what you can. This world is so full of so many different things. I think that this world is big enough and diverse enough to find a place we want to hang out or balance it.
HipHopWired: With that being said, what is the Reverend’s overall opinion on the state of Hip-Hop today?
Rev Run: I like it. I like Jay-Z, Beyonce, I love the business people. Jay-Z’s married, Beyonce’s amazing. Young Jeezy’s doing what he supposed to do, he’s very dope on the mic. I love the creativity of Gucci Mane, I like some of the stuff. I’m part of it. Hip-Hop is on MTV in the form of a Reverend. Hopefully they look at me and gather a little bit of that and not try to fight the fact that Run has going on his life. Hopefully that weighs a little on all these rappers that might be slightly unruly, put a little bit of Rev Run on ya. I mean I might not be the coolest but maybe I can get a little bit of the things that are on me onto them and I think Hip-Hop’s okay. You still got Run preaching a great message so god is good to us all.