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Hot 16: A Father’s Day Salute To A Few Big Poppas


Today is Father's Day and it's only fitting that SoulBounce shows a little lot of love to those music men who are taking care of their business and -- most importantly -- their families. The hip-hop and soul dads on this Hot 16 list run the gamut from SoulBounce faves to cultural icons, but one thing that they have in common is that they are all class acts when it comes to being there for and raising their children. We take this time to salute these talented individuals who have entertained us over the years for being real fathers and real men. Happy Father's Day to all of the men listed here and to all of the dads doing the right thing out there.
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Andre 3000
Trying to find Andre 3000 on wax these days is like playing a hip-hop Where's Waldo? You just never know where he might randomly show up. One place you'll always find him, however, is in his role as a father to he and Erykah Badu's son Seven. Over the 15 (!) years since Seven's birth, we've seen Dre break from his out-of-this-world stage persona to be a very, very down to Mars kind of dad. It may seem that Dre 3K is more interested in being an actor than a rapper these days (he's in Dublin as we speak filming his turn as the legendary Jimi Hendrix), but we doubt that he'll ever lose interest in being a father. If only we could have as much faith that his much talked about (but never delivered) solo album will ever materialize... -- D-Money

Eric Benét
When he's not busy making his female fans swoon with his good looks, washboard abs and powerful pipes, Eric Benét is enjoying diaper duty to newborn daughter, Lucia. This isn't Benét's first foray into the wonderful world of fatherhood, as he's also dad to 21-year-old India. And like any other proud parent, he welcomes the opportunity to boast about his beautiful offspring, regularly taking to his Twitter page to post YouTube clips of India showcasing her own vocal talents. His love for his girls has also served as inspiration for his music also. On 2005's Hurricane, he both dedicated and named a song after India. Most recently, he wowed fans by expressing his love for little Lucia in the aptly titled "Here In My Arms (Lucia's Lullaby)." No matter which daughter he's singing to, it'll always be music to our ears. -- Ivory

Bilal
In the time that celebrated singer Bilal Oliver was dealing with label issues and the disappointment of his sophomore album Love For Sale leaking and never getting an official release, he was also handling issues on the home front with his family. As a father to two sons, his song "Little One" from 2010's Airtight's Revenge is an ode to his children, with a specific focus on his oldest child Bashir who was diagnosed with autism six years ago. Using his celebrity as a platform to raise awareness and support research about the disease, he is a vocal supporter of Autism Speaks, has performed on the National Mall during an autism walk and named his last tour after the heartfelt song. -- Butta

Common
Rapper/actor/humanitarian Common has changed his style up over the years and gone from crochet everything and conscious lyrics to being designer down and using more colorful language in his raps, but one thing that has remained the same is his love for his daughter Omoye Assata Lynn. He co-parents the now teenager with his ex-girlfriend Kim Jones, whom he talks about in his memoir, One Day It Will All Make Sense, and their decision to have the baby in 1997. He touched on the subject in his song "Retrospect For Life" with Lauryn Hill, which was the centerpiece of the album One Day It Will All Make Sense that was birthed the same year. In more recent years, Common has gone on to create the Common Ground Foundation to aid underprivileged youth in his hometown of Chicago. -- Butta

Cee Lo Green
Soul man Cee Lo Green is so out there it's easy to forget the the self-proclaimed Lady Killer is also a family man. Though he and his former wife are no longer together, their union created their son Kingston and Cee Lo treats her two daughters, Sierra (of My Super Sweet 16 fame) and Kalah, as his own. Even though he's got another season of his hit show The Voice coming up as well as a stint in Vegas as "Loberace," his children needn't worry. The flamboyant and proud father (and grandfather) might have re-titled his biggest solo hit "Forget You," but he'll never forget about his kids. -- D-Money

Anthony Hamilton
If for any reason Anthony Hamilton ever needed to form his own basketball squad in the future, then he'd have to look no further than his own burgeoning brood. The father of six is undoubtedly proud of his clan of boys, consisting of Anthony Jr., Romero, Tristen, Aaron, Nolan and the most recent addition, Princeton. And though he had expressed hope that Princeton would be a girl during an appearance on Live! With Kelly, he is above all, happy for the healthy, bouncing bundle of joy. In the meantime, he can continue to deliver fans the soulful music that has made him one of adult R&B's most sought-after crooners. Fans near and far have fallen head-over-heels in love with the Charlotte native's brand of old-school tinged soul music, which we're sure could only get better thanks to his newest inspiration. -- Ivory

LL Cool J
Over the last two decades, LL Cool J has morphed into quite the Renaissance man as he's accomplished various ventures outside of the hip-hop gamut. Whether it's in fashion, fitness, hosting award shows, writing books or acting, LL has excelled. Currently his stint on NCIS: Los Angeles is a far cry from his Kangol cap wearing days, but LL has always been all about the love. He claimed he needed it in 1987 with hit single, "I Need Love," and well, judging from seeing photos of him with his family on the red carpet he probably doesn't need to sing that tune anymore, as it seems clear to anybody that he has found that love. Yes, Ladies love Cool J, that is true, but LL loves his kiddies -- all four of them -- and is loving being a family man on top of that. -- AudioDiva

Jay-Z
Jay-Z shocked the world when he quelled the big pimpin and settled down with R&B diva Beyoncé. I suppose we all knew it was only a matter of time before he had the hottest chick in the game wearing his baby bump. As Hova approaches his first Father's Day, he must be considering the explanation required once Blue Ivy Carter finally hears "Money, Cash, Hoes." Announcing that he will remove the B-word from his records going forward should make this a bit easier as he works to grow into the father that he wants to be. Perhaps the man who once urged us all to hang up the throwback jerseys in exchange for a button down, could be using that power to influence a generation towards responsible fatherhood. -- DayJobBob

Lenny Kravitz
Having written a few songs about his love for daughter Zoe Kravitz, such as "Flowers for Zoe" from Mama Said and "Little Girl's Eyes" from the album 5, it has been clear for a very long time just how much Lenny Kravitz adores being a father. Some 20 years since the release of Mama Said, and 23 years since he entered fatherhood, the father/daughter love between Kravitz and Kravitz seems to only get stronger, with him crediting her presence as a child in his life being the reason he got sober, and recently admitting that she gives him relationship advice. The tight bond they share, coupled with his seemingly ageless good looks and sensitivity in his lyrics, serves to not only make women wanna go his way, but has turned the rocker into a poster boy for divorced fathers. Ah yes, Lenny, you are proof to fathers out there that they can't go wrong if they let love rule. -- Kitten Jam

Nas
Having made headlines over recent years due to his divorce and financial drama with ex-wife Kelis over their son, and only last month releasing his track "Daughters" from upcoming album Life is Good, you got to give it up for rapper Nas. Despite his cool, tough-yet-sexy, legendary MC exterior, we're pretty sure that at heart Nas is a big teddy bear when it comes to his kids Knight and Destiny. Jay-Z may have made headlines over his declaration to not say b-tch since the birth of Blue Ivy, but it turns out he was not the first rapper to suddenly realize the power of his words after the birth of a daughter, with Nas recently admitting that he questioned his lyrics after his daughter Destiny's birth 18 years ago, which later inspired the creation of tracks like the sugary and inspiring anthem "I Can." -- Kitten Jam

Phonte
Although he's now in the midst of a divorce, few artists paint a picture of life as a married man with kids as vividly as Phonte Coleman. Not to mention the fact that he's spent the past decade touring nonstop as a member of Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange or on the solo tip, and he does it all for hip hop. Or at least that's what he claims in jest before admitting that its done for his mortgage. The opportunity to do what you excel in while providing for a family is something that every man longs to attain. Phonte manages to accomplish both feats while serving his community as an example of what it means to be a hard-working father in America. -- DayJobBob

Eric Roberson
Eric Roberson is like family around these parts, and he and his wife Shawn are continuing to add to theirs. Their son Rock is now a toddler, and they're expecting another son in a few months who they affectionately refer to as "Tummy Baby." Erro is one proud poppa who regularly posts pics of his family to Instagram in addition to photos of him in his fly gear, with his adoring fans or on stage doing what he does best. The King of Independent Soul is one of the most down-to-earth cats in the business, and it's his family who keeps him grounded. -- Butta

Will Smith
Though he was once known as Mr. Fourth of July in the movie industry, Father's Day seems to be the holiday that suits Big Willie best. The father of three, along with wife Jada Pinkett Smith, has managed to raise a fine group of kids. His eldest, Trey -- his son with ex-wife Sheree -- just graduated from high school last year and might just have a decent football career on his hands. His youngest two, Jaden and Willow, have already started following in their famous parents' footsteps and are both burgeoning music and movie stars (and millionaires) in their own right. Who knew that the guy who rapped that "Parents Just Don't Understand" would turn out to be such a great parent himself? Hey, Will, wanna adopt a soon-to-be 30-year-old? -- D-Money

Robin Thicke
Nothing makes a woman grab the church fan more than a sultry Robin Thicke visual (cue "Lost Without You"), but what really gets the ladies to melt in piles of goo is a man who adores the kiddies, and judging by Thicke's new role as a proud poppa -- women may have more to swoon over Mr. Thicke for more than ever. With wife, actress Paula Patton, the couple recently gave birth to son, Julian Fuego Thicke in 2010. This birth no doubt prompted the material that laced Thicke's 2010 album, Love After War. If you listened between Thicke's silky tone and the lyrical lines, Thicke is a changed man, and for the better, thanks to a new bundle of joy. Seeing him step into a paternal role is no doubt a good look not just musically, but personally as well. -- AudioDiva

T.I.
If, like myself, you had T.I. pegged as some thuggish ruggish rapper due to his lyrical content and numerous stints in prison, then all those notions got dropkicked out of the window with his VH1 reality show T.I & Tiny: The Family Hustle. In a hip-hop version of Father Knows Best, we saw a bespectacled and sweater-wearing T.I. step into the role of a loving husband to Tameka "Tiny" Cottle and dedicated daddy to the six kids in their blended family. Family Hustle showed a kinder, gentler side of T.I. who is very much about his business and also funny, sensitive, intelligent and downright charming. It's no wonder Tiny fell for him and why this wholesome reality show got picked up for another season. -- Butta

Usher
Usher may still be "looking 4" himself, but fatherhood has already found him and it suits him well. This international star was just a kid himself when he first burst onto the scene with his eponymous debut album in 1994. Fast forward to 2007, and the heartthrob was welcoming the first of his two sons into the world with then wife, stylist Tameka Foster. Although his tumultuous and controversial marriage didn't last, his love for his sons endures. In addition to being a devoted father of two adorable boys, the busy entertainer helps give thousands of youth "a new look on life" through the Usher's New Look Foundation. You may not like his new sound, but his commitment to his children and to his foundation is certainly a good look. -- Lady J


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