Consequence Balances His 8-Year-Old Son Caiden’s Rap Career While Still Making Beats for Kanye West
Father Stretch My Hands
Over the course of nearly three decades, hip-hop iron man Consequence has contributed to some of rap’s most storied catalogs. Next up, his son, Caiden, seeks to carry on tradition.
Can he kick it?
Interview: Kai Acevedo
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
It would be a dream come true for most parents to see their son or daughter follow in their footsteps. Luckily for Consequence (born Dexter Raymond Mills, Jr.), it didn’t take much convincing for his son, Caiden, 8, to want to stunt like his daddy. “I realized that he really wanted to do it when he asked to come to my job—that’s how it all started,” remembers the proud father and hip-hop marathon man, who over the last 25 years has appeared on tracks alongside legends like A Tribe Called Quest, Cam’ron, Busta Rhymes and Patti LaBelle, and also wrote and produced platinum hits by Kanye West and Beyoncé. “He asked to come to work with me and he hasn’t left since.”
A chip off the old block, Caiden Mills has inherited his dad’s passion for rapping. In 2015, at only 4 years old, he appeared on his father’s single “That Dude” and has been sharpening his mic skills ever since. Hard work has paid off for the self-proclaimed “Voice of the Youth,” who rhymes about the everyday life of a child who has Balenciaga threads hanging in his closet. While Caiden’s still generating momentum, he’s been receiving genuine props from rap heavyweights. His Staten Island-themed flip of Casanova’s track “So Brooklyn” received reposts from Wu-Tang Clan icons Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Lil Nas X also approved of the third grader’s “Old Town Road'' remix earlier this year. And “Dream About Nicki,” a reimaging of Nicki Minaj’s “Barbie Dreams,” got a thumbs up from the original song’s creator as well.
Today, Caiden is clocking overtime. School was dismissed hours earlier and now, on this Monday night in November, the rap rookie and his pops are posted up in XXL’s Midtown Manhattan office preparing for a joint photo shoot and interview. Caiden is dripped out in a camo Bape coat with black Adidas Yeezy 500 “Utility Black” sneakers—his barber shaved the name of this publication into the back of Caiden’s hightop fade. He’s got boundless energy: He’ll record and post a clip of himself hitting the Woah on TikTok while he offsets and struggles at times to hold a pose while in front of the camera. Still, the beyond-his-years charisma and star quality is undeniable. Meanwhile, Cons is pushing through a stiff neck, his baldie momentarily tilted 45 degrees to the right. He claims the ailment is the byproduct of an on-the-go lifestyle catching up to him.
In addition to developing Caiden’s career (including his upcoming mixtape, No. 1 Draft Pick, and debut album, Just Being a Kid), Consequence continues to be one of Kanye’s most trusted musical comrades. Just 10 days ago, the Queens-bred rapper—who is wrapping up his next project, Make Up for Lost Time—helped finalize Jesus Is King, ’Ye’s gospel-rap album that dropped in October and topped the Billboard 200 chart.
Tonight, though, it’s all about father-son time. Caiden and Consequence sat down to discuss their working relationship, Caiden’s friendship with North West and why Q-Tip and Kanye collaborations may be on the horizon for the young spitta.
XXL: What was the first moment when you realized Caiden’s interest in music was something to take seriously?
Consequence: He was born to do it, but I realized that he really wanted to do it when he started asking to come to my job.
Caiden, how has working with dad been so far?
Caiden: Good. It’s fun. My favorite part is when we go on stage and do music videos.
Is it because you love it or because you get to do what dad does?
Caiden: Because I get to do what he does and do it with him.
How does that make you feel, Cons?
Consequence: It’s great. He’s a natural performer. I’m a proud dad. A person can have a kid and that’s their kid, but he or she don’t do shit like them. My pops, for instance, retired from the Navy. He suggested it to me but never forced it on me. It just wasn’t my thing. I kind of felt like work kept him traveling so much and I couldn’t go with him, so I didn’t connect with it. And that was another thing with Caiden, I just never wanted us to not be connected. I only have one. Life is just some ill shit, man.
Caiden, what does hip-hop mean to you?
Caiden: Life, because I’ve been doing it since I was a baby.
What’s your favorite song from your dad?
Caiden: “Spaceship.” Oh, and “Job Song.”
How has juggling school and a music career been so far?
Consequence: I think we’ve been really good with that. School is first. Now, how is it juggling this and Madden? That’s a different story. There’s no bend on school. He has to get his schoolwork done. That’s not compromisable.
Caiden: It’s been cool. I can balance it because I’m mature.
What has helped you become mature?
Caiden: My parents raised me well.
How do you manage using more vocabulary when writing with an 8-year-old?
Consequence: You have to bag up accordingly. That’s the best way I could put it. He’s different than A Tribe Called Quest. It’s not in a whole different universe. If I’m sitting with Q-Tip and we’re working on [A Tribe Called Quest’s] “Movin Backwards,” that’s a more sophisticated thing and that’s fine. Caiden’s thing is more like joy. Not to say that there’s no joy in a Tribe record. But this is a different kind of joy. For Caiden, it should all feel like joy. It shouldn’t feel like a job.
Do you approach crafting tracks for Caiden differently from how you approach working with other artists?
Consequence: Nah, I treat him like a client in that aspect. It’s about making the best record. If he has an idea for a record, I welcome it because I don’t view him any differently than a client. He’ll say, “Do you like that daddy?” That’s his way of saying, “I’m not sure.” If it’s his joint, he has to sell it. He has to be the one in front of the camera. I just have to always be able to separate myself from his artistry, so that his artistry does what it’s supposed to do for an 8-year-old.
What did you think of Kanye’s Sunday Service?
Caiden: I remember Coachella. It was fun. We danced. We were on stage singing... what is it called? “Poopity-Scoop”?
Consequence: You did “Lift Yourself.”
Caiden: Everyone was saying hi to us.
Were you surprised by how many people were there?
Caiden: Yeah, it was like a million people. It was exciting.
Consequence, with you being from Queens, what was it like to see Sunday Service coming to The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York?
Consequence: That was huge for the hood. My grandmother was a parishioner of [Pastor] Floyd Flake. Floyd Flake has been in the hood since I was a shawty. So, it’s multilayered. It’s that and seeing what Kanye has been able to manifest. I brought Caiden out in like, February and Kanye had done like, two or three in January, so it was the third or fourth one. We were literally in Kanye’s office. It was about 40 people. Fast-forward to not even a year later and it’s in Queens at Allen Cathedral. Allen is the biggest church in Queens. It was a good vibe. I’m really happy for Kanye and the space that he’s in. We all been through life and sometimes people forget who they are or sometimes you need a really clear reminder to proceed or to double back. Like, I know I’m going here, but let me make sure I don’t lose this core part of who I am being out here doing whatever I’m doing.
What is Caiden and North West’s friendship like? A picture of them was posted to Instagram with the caption “Boo’d up,” which got a lot of attention.
Consequence: I wrote it. I’m his father. That’s my son. I’m looking like, “Yo, look at my son!” Maybe I didn’t take the public into consideration, but it was just a dad moment when I posted it. It was innocent. They were just at Stormi’s party and took a picture. They did Coachella. They hung out since. But he’s 8 and she’s 6. They’re kids. That’s it. They do get along. And it’s not like he only plays with North. Saint? That’s our man.
There’s a picture where it looks like Caiden and Saint were holding hands.
Consequence: Yeah, they were holding hands. It’s the way they caught the picture. That’s our man. It’s just the kids, period. Chicago is kind of in the space where she can start talking, so she identifies now. We’re just friends of the family.
Was Caiden present for the recording of Kanye’s Jesus Is King album?
Consequence: Caiden has a record that Kanye really liked called “Learn to Fly,” so it’s kind of like he was. I played [Kanye] a joint and he was like, “Yo!” He wanted Caiden to do Sunday Service, so he’s been in the mix. In the process of making JIK, I was like, “Listen to this.” Caiden has been actively working while this has been going on. He came to the listening party as well. He didn’t come to Wyoming—I had to go bust that move. I try to get him to be around as much as I can.
How would you compare ushering a new artist in this era to when ’Ye came in?
Consequence: That shit is night and day. The resources are way different now. To sit here and say it’s a Rubik’s Cube with Caiden… It’s not a Rubik’s Cube. It’s maybe Connect 4. The College Dropout was a Rubik’s Cube. My first album was a Rubik’s Cube because of the climate and because of the ascent of our movement. After about 2012, anyone who kind of emulated our bag was able to get the bag because it was our shit that had already been established. That groundwork that we inadvertently laid. We were doing us. We weren’t trying to change the game.
What was it like for Nicki Minaj to tell you that she liked what you’ve been doing?
Caiden: It was a dream come true. I was excited. She’s a big rapper and she’s my mother’s favorite. I gave her flowers and her favorite candy, M&Ms. She loved it.
Cons, you know what the life of an artist is from the early stages throughout the journey. What’s one thing you’re most excited for Caiden to experience as an artist?
Consequence: He’s been on radio with “Dream About Nicki” already. That was big for him. He was so hyped. I’m excited for when he actually gets the official rollout and him being signed. A lot of those things are on the horizon and I’m really looking forward to it. I love when I get around artists and they ask me about him.
How does that feel?
Consequence: Great. For me, it’s exactly what I wanted. I want him to be able to walk in certain circles and it not be unfamiliar territory. It’s really important to set that precedent while I’m active. If he ever needed to call ’Ye for something, I’m 95 percent sure he’d get it just because when they get on the phone it’s like, “What have you been up to? How is school?” They carry their own conversion. It’s not just like, I’m talking to Cons’ kid. He has a relationship with Caiden. He’s let Caiden run around his house. Even with Q-Tip, if he needed something from Q-Tip, Tip would pull up.
I can do what I can do, but I can’t shield you from life. Life is going to do you how it’s going to do you. You have to be equipped with a sword and a shield. All I can do is give him the sword and shield, and teach him how to use them. As long as you do that, you did your job as a parent.
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