Matt Crews is a career long mass media specialist hailing from the Northern Virginia area. In addition to a B.A. from Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, his background includes stints in both radio and television broadcasting, federal contracting and developing public relations strategies for an array of companies and independent clients. Recent highlights of Matt’s career include playing an intricate role in raising nationwide awareness for White House initiatives to promote responsible fatherhood as well as channeling music consumers and their listening preferences to support the now nationally recognized Global Citizen Earth Day on iTunes and Google Play Stores. Never accepting the norm as a final answer, Matt continues to push the envelope of brand expansion in his portfolio. Matt is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the United League of Hip Hop Fathers. He currently lives in Northern Virginia with his 3 year old son, and frequents Albuquerque, New Mexico to see his 4 year old daughter.
1) What has been the best part of fatherhood for you?
The best part of fatherhood for me… Sheesh… There are so many “best’s!” My answer could change depending on the day. But today, I have to say that raising, watching and caring for two human beings that are extensions of myself is the best part. I have two children. My daughter is 4. My son is 3. Male and female representation of me. Do you know how much you can learn about yourself just by watching your children? Both of them take on so much of my characteristics. My son, he’s hilarious. Not that I personally think I’m funny. Maybe I just laugh at him because he’s so much like me. And can be an asshole, unintentionally. That much I do know about myself. Ha. So he get’s away with alot more than my daughter does because I understand that trait… Same sentence, he’s super intelligent, very protective, very loving and an all around outgoing spirit….. My daughter, she’s the most perfect girl in the world. Beautiful of course (I make good looking babies). Poised. Smart. Sassy, almost diva-esque. Not to be on some Bruce Jenner sh*t, but if I was born a woman I’d be her. But the most important lesson I’ve taken away from my daughter to date is really understanding women and the nature of them. I don’t want to go too far left into spirituality. But even in the Bible it says a woman’s ways are beyond understanding. Point taken. I’ve dated. Had serious relationships. And maybe my ultimate failure if I was at fault for a break up, was not understanding the flexability of a woman’s emotions. One minute they can be happy and sweet as sugar to you. Then something occurs, and not even necessarily something you did, and they’re sad and crying. With women I dated, a pre-fatherhood Matt could easily tell a woman that she was bugging and I don’t have time for these mood swings. But with my daughter? Nah. There’s no getting rid of her. That’s my baby. So I pay closer attention to those emotions. Doing so, I learned more about women and how they react to certain things. I think I have the patience to have a wife now. Ha…. So, that got a little left field but the best part of fatherhood is definitely learning about yourself through your children.
2) What is the most important lesson that you have learned since becoming a father?
Probably that life matters. I had a sense of invincibility pre-fatherhood. Placed myself in unpromising circumstances on a number of occasions. But now, if I even cough a second too long or have a pain somewhere in my body, my mind automatically goes to a place where I hope that I am okay so I can take care of my children. Before then, especially as a black man, we brush off our health like it’s nothing. Black men as a whole are strong and carry a mentality not to show weakness. So we don’t go to the doctor when something is wrong just for that sole reason. But for my kids, nah jack. I take my well being very seriously because I know that it directly depends on their well being. I’ve probably been to the doctor more in my 4 years as a father than I have been in my entire life. And a majority of the time it wasn’t even for sickness or injury. Know your body. You can’t take care of someone if you’re not taking care of yourself.
3) What is the secret to being a good father to your children?
Prayer. Patience. And from those two things comes evolution of you as a man and a father. Because there is no blueprint to being the perfect father. You just get better with loving them and having tolerence everyday. Our children do things out of our control. You can put them in great enviroments and out of harms way, but they still are human beings with decisions they make on their own, regardless of our discipline and guidance. When he’s older I’ll tell my son spiritually not to have sex until he’s married and worldly tell him wear protection to keep away potential disease or making me a grandfather in his teenage years. But if he does, I can be mad as hell at him but I still have to be his father. How as a father do you prepare for those situations? You don’t. So pray for your children daily. And pray for patience and understanding, and the ability to accept the things you can’t control. because you never know what you’re gonna come into as a parent, good or bad. That’s not necessarily the secret to being a good father, but if I do say so myself some damn good advice.
4) What does Fatherhood mean to you?
Alot of things. The first relationship ever on Earth was between God and Adam, father and son. And from there came Eve from the rib of course. So I guess my point is is that if this is the role God plays in our lives, as our ultimate Father outside of our dads, how much do you think he judges us in our roles as parents? I believe magnitudes. So outside of everything else that we do, jobs, relationships, having fun, whatever… What matters most is how we’ve treated our children. You could be a flat out criminal. And I’m not condoning that at all. I’ll advise differently of course. But our most important job in life is to take care of our children, the same way God takes care of us. And I believe that if you do that, make Fatherhood your priority before everything else in your life, when you die you’ve lived a good life. As men we need to understand the importance of our roles as fathers. It’s not a game. It’s the ultimate assignment as a man should you choose to have a child conceived. We are leaders of our homes and examples to the lives we’ve created. Be responsible.
5) What do you feel is the best piece of advice that you have ever given your children?
My kids are young, 4 and 3, so they haven’t received too much life advice yet. So as of now I’d say it’s a tie between saying your prayers at night and listening to your elders. Oh, wait… and staying in the grass and not on the street where cars are…. And then there’s not to order $20 Spongebob movies On Demand because daddy doesn’t to pay alot of money on his cable bill (true story). Ha! I don’t know how to answer this question.
6) How does your parenting style differ from the style of your parents?
I’m real with my kids. Not taking anything away from my parents. I had a good upbringing. But when I was coming up, in many cases, I experienced doing wrong before I even knew what I did was wrong. You understand what I’m saying? I was isolated from wrongs because my parents felt me and my siblings would adapt wrong behavior. So, this is a funny story that’s the most relatable to my kids ages, the first cuss word I ever said was “bitch”. And not to disrespect women, but this still may be my favorite cuss word to date on some Too Short shit. Anyway, I remember being on the playground in elementary school and one of my friends calling someone he didn’t like a bitch. It seemed cool and I had never heard the word. Ever. My parents didn’t cuss and they didn’t let us listen to certain types of music or watch movies with profanity in them. So anyway, I go home. And I see something I didn’t like. Can’t remember exactly what it was. But in front of my dad I point at it and call it a bitch. Worst part is I didn’t even say it right. I said “bit”. And my father asked me to repeat what I said. I did but he knew what I meant. A good leather belt ass-whooping followed immediately. But my point is I didn’t know any better. My kids at the young ages of 4 and 3 know what cuss words and alot of other wrongs are because I expose them to it. Not always intentionally. But as fathers we have to understand that once our children are exposed to something, explanation of what they saw or did has to be delivered to them. Exposure = Explaination. When we listen to daddy’s music they know what not to say. When someone gets hurt on a tv show I’m watching they know violence is wrong. They actually correct me when I cuss in front of them. Both of them will say “Don’t say that Dadaa, that’s a bad word”. And I love that. Because when they go in public or I’m not around, whatever, they represent me and won’t conform to that behavior. And actually steer other kids away from it. I’ve got reports when they’ve been with others away from me that they’ll tell kids or adults even that they did something bad. I love it. And of course as they get older they will be exposed to more serious things than cussing so when that time comes we’ll address those things.
7) If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before you became a father what would you say?
Pull out. LOL. No I love my kids and am blessed to have them. I’d probably tell myself to enjoy this time you have only being responsible for yourself. Because your way of life, lifestyle, thought process, everything is going to change once that baby gets here more than you know.
8) What piece of advice do you have for fathers who are not currently present in the lives of their children?
Depends. If you’re not in their lives just because they’re being negligent, I’d tell them to step their f***** game up. Look them dead in the eyes and tell them how important their own kids are. I’ve done it outside of the men I’ve worked with to men I don’t even know just from having conversations in the streets. But for fathers that are faced with unfavorable situations, say the child’s mother is keeping the kid away from him to be spiteful, I would tell him the same thing I said a couple questions ago. Pray. And have patience. You can’t ever give up on your children. It is a constant battle. But the reward from this battle is priceless. And even once you are back in your children’s life, you still have to fight. Fatherhood is an ongoing fight because you never give up on your kids. No matter what your wife did. No matter what your child’s mother did. No matter what the kid did themselves, you never give up to be a part of thier lives. Prayer. Patience. Presevere. Prosper.
9) What is the one moment since you became a father has changed your life forever?
Probably finding out about my daughter. I’m not ashamed to share this story. But I didn’t know if my daughter was mine until she was 2. That’s not a jab at her mother at all. Her mother is a fantastic person and has done an outstanding job raising my daughter. But I live in Virginia. And my daughter lives in New Mexico. So out of alot of things that changed my life after becoming a father, this is the most outstanding for me. To have a child away from me at that great of a distance. A daughter! The father/daughter relationship is so critical. I actually have some material to be released soon addressing this relationship. But back to the question, just trying to maintain this relationship with her. Miss out on so many moments of her life physically but trying to be there spiritually at least. It’s a struggle and even saddening sometime. But I’ve committed myself to that fight. She’s good tho. Her mom is dope and makes sure my daughter knows who her “Papi” is (she’s half Spanish so she doesn’t call me Dad. It’s Papi. I love it). We do Google Hangouts video calls. We get on the phone. We send each other voice memos. There are creative ways to be a part of your child’s life when faced with a distance like mine. But I have physical custody of her 3 months out of the year, which is definitely time well spent. But yeah, my heart is in all the way in New Mexico and I’m in Virginia. Look up that distance on Google Maps. LOL.
10) What do you feel your legacy as a father will be?
Hard to say. Life changes quickly. But if I had to call it today, United League of Hip Hop Fathers. That’s my organization committed to the upliftment of fathers of the culture. Why did I take this path? Because I know how much I care about my kids and I know the struggles I’ve faced and am even still facing to this day. Dads need encouragement. As men, we gotta stop being hesitant to encourage each other and just do it. If you’re out and see a dad handling his business with his kids, give him a compliment, same way we’ll tell a woman how good she looks in a sundress she’s wearing. Say hey man, keep up the good parenting. I salute you. And keep it moving. You never know what that dad is going through. Because as I’ve said through this interview fatherhood is not an easy job. At all. And too often, we see dads giving up on their children because of society’s perception on them, the kid’s mother, the judicial system, finances… an array of situations. It’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard to show flaw or weakness as a man. I still to this day don’t take advantage of all of the supportive people and systems in my life just because I’d rather get through it alone. But being real with myself, in some struggles I’ve had as a parent, they would have been gone in half the time if I had just reached out to resources that presented themselves in my life. You ever hear that story about the drowning man praying to God? Hilarious truth! Google it. He was praying for God to save him from drowning in the water. God sent 3 methods of help, all from other people. He denied each one saying to each, “No thanks, I’m waiting on God to save me”. Then he drowns and dies after denying the 3rd method of help, gets to heaven and asks God “Why didn’t you saved me?” God is like I tried to save you three times, dummy! Point of me sharing that is if you need help to be a better dad or a better man, seek it. There’s nothing wrong with that. What I hope my kids take away from my organization is not that I invested in other families more than my own, but that I love them so much that I wanted to help others have the chance the experience that same love. Of course my kids come before anything, all of this. But I’ve spiritually committed myself to helping other dads for the rest of my life. Even when I retire from the actual public work, I’m still committed in privacy. If I talk to a young man, he opens up about his parenting situation, I’m gonna try and encourage that man. This is hard work. Being a father is difficult in itself. Trying to get other people to be an effective parent is another level of difficulty. I’m blessed to say that one of the ways that I chose to provide for my family also helped other families in the process. That’s dope. And our legacy extends outside of us. What my kids do with their lives when I’m gone is my legacy. And their kids. Me and my siblings are a part of our parent’s legacies. It’s all lineage man. That’s why as fathers we have to be conscious of what we do and how we do it. It can have an everlasting impact on our kids lives. My legacy as a father lies within the Crews bloodline that I’ve extended. It’s forever. And I pray to God for anything that comes from me to live prosperous, be kind and have fun.