The journey to glory and riches isn't a straight road—and finding your way to the top in a hip-hop family dynasty can be even more complicated, according to the children of some of the most successful music and entertainment industry moguls.
Romeo Miller (son of Master P) and the daughter of Naughty By Nature’s Treach and Salt-N-Pepa’s Sandra “Pepa” Denton, Egypt Criss, along with Mary J. Blige’s former stepdaughter, Briana Latrise came to Great Day Washington to explain. They are in Washington for the season 3 premiere of their We TV reality show, Growing Up Hip Hop.
Markette Sheppard: You are having your premiere party at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture. How exciting is that?
Romeo Miller: Extremely exciting.
Egypt Criss: We’ve been doing this show for three years now and it’s been an amazing experience and we just can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been up to.
ON GROWING UP AS HIP HOP ROYALTY
Markette: How do you guys keep your head on the shoulders straight because I feel like with access comes a lot of temptation.
Romeo: Anything in life has its pros and cons.
And that’s what I want people to see. If you have the talent, but you also have to believe in yourself and hard work. My pops is living witness to that—literally coming from nothing, you know?
I hate when people say, “You got this [because] you’re Master P’s son.” None of that matters. At the end of the day it starts with you. That’s the cool thing about this cast. Everybody is so much different, but so much alike at the same time.
Egypt: I have access to people, but I’m still starting out. This is all becoming new to me. But I’m definitely always going to be humble and everything because my mom just raised me to be like that. God would never put something in my life that was too much for me to handle.
Briana Latrise: In my early 20s I had access to everybody in Hollywood and I had a ball. Let’s just say that.
ROMEO ON GETTING BACK TO HIS ROOTS
Markette: So you go back to New Orleans on the show. Tell us about that.
Romeo: Yeah, it’s always good going back home, right? There’s no place like home.
But, everything started in New Orleans. Y’all probably know the story. It was the murder capital when my pops started off and he was able to escape that [while] having a brother who’s incarcerated and another who passed away—got murdered.
My dad had to make certain choices in life to be where he is today. So always going back home and seeing where it all started always keeps me grounded and makes me even more hungry [to] go out and try to be the best I can be—and just to help inspire.
We do a lot of philanthropy work with Team Hope NOLA and raising millions for years. So going back home for me is just giving me that extra boost that I need to keep going.
WHEN HOMELESSNESS MEETS HIP HOPMarkette: Briana, you were the stepdaughter of Mary J. Blige when she was married to your dad, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs. And you’ve been very open about your past struggles with substance abuse and homelessness. How could this all go down?
Briana: I was a straight ‘A’ student. I actually got bored with school, so I left it because it didn’t make sense and I didn’t have a home anyway so I, you know...
Markette: This was before your dad was married to Mary J. Blige, right?
Briana: No, they were married. I was just doing my own thing. We fell out of touch; due to… you know how family gets sometimes. Things go wrong—someone’s over here-- you’re over here. Family really wasn’t that important to me at the time.
Markette: How is it growing up without having your famous stepmother and your dad?
Briana: It was difficult. I remember I would be walking past people’s houses and what not, and you’d see them on TV and I’d be like, “Damn, that’s my family.”
But if you don’t have someone’s phone number and you don’t know how to get a hold of them… And then, I had issues with drugs, too. So that’s probably why I didn’t care as much. That was my coping mechanism, and then art helped me grow out of the drug thing. I had somewhere to put my pain.
A HIP-HOP PRINCESS AND HER PARENTAL RAP LEGENDS
Markette: Egypt, you’re the daughter of Naughty By Nature's Anthony “Treach” Criss and one of the greatest female rap groups of all time, Salt n Pepa's Sandra “Pepa” Denton. In the show, you’re kind of battling with your mom over whether to purse a music career first or go to college. Also in the mix is a tell-all book that Pepa wrote years ago, but your dad, Treach, says has lies in it… What’s going on?
Egypt: The thing is, that book was about her entire past. It wasn’t just about my dad. It was like since she was a little girl. That stuff that happened—you gotta watch it to find out what happened. It was a book to let people know how to avoid certain situations and I’ve been loyal to her all these years by not reading it ‘cause she made me promise, but I’ve been seeing here give other people the book and I’m 18 now so I just thought it was time.
Markette: So you’re a budding artist, but your mom is telling you to go to college first. What do you think about that?
Egypt: I want to do both. I want to go to college, but I do want to make my way in my career with singing and acting so I am going to go to college and juggling everything.
Romeo: Do it all!
Egypt: Yes, do everything!
Growing Up Hip Hop season 3 premieres July 20 at 9p.m. on We TV. The cast is celebrating in Washington at private screening and discussion on hip-hop culture in America at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Markette Sheppard is host of Great Day Washington on WUSA 9. You can watch the full interview with the cast of Growing Up Hip Hop here.