As comical and colorful as rapper and TV personality Safaree Samuels is, which I would learn during my conversation with him, there are two things he gets really serious about: his family and his music. The 38-year-old is preparing for the arrival of his first child with wife Erica Mena, a daughter, any day now (“This has been the longest pregnancy ever”), and he has an EP out now called Straitt that he’s promoting (“It’s a good body of work. Once you listen to it and hear it there’s no denying it”). He’s in a very peaceful place as he settles into these major moments in life, so the criticisms he gets from detractors online who say he’s too extra or the issues he finds himself facing with his co-stars on Love and Hip Hop New York don’t phase the Kingston, Jamaica-born, Queens-raised star in the least.
“I don’t care,” he told me while sitting in a luxurious floor-length fur coat with shades on. “People can’t pay me to care. So for me to act like I do care is very hard.”
“I don’t really let it bother me because I just feel like, in my real life, there are just way more better things going on than to sit here and argue with people,” he added. “I’m not going to argue with you. You’re not going to get my energy outside of whatever energy I feel like I want to give you. There’s reality, and this is reality. There are some people they go on TV and they gotta front for the cameras. Me, I am who I am, take it or leave it.”
I talked with him about the more important things in life he is celebrating now, including being a newlywed father-to-be, as well as the things that just need to be addressed (like his Michael Jackson-inspired performance at his baby shower and that sex toy business). He was entertaining, as always.
MadameNoire: How did you know that you found the one in Erica? You guys met before when you were on VH1’s Scared Famous, but you didn’t date until later. How did you know she was someone that you wanted to be with once you got your chance to shoot your shot?
Safaree Samuels: When I woke up at Scared Famous and saw her in the morning. I couldn’t believe it. That just captured me along with her personality because her personality and how she is, she’s like me as far as how funny and outrageous she is. We gel well in that area. Then when I saw how she looks in the morning I was like, “Yeah, I could wake up to that.”
Is that something you look for in women?
It’s a plus.
Your daughter is due any day now. How are you preparing yourself for fatherhood and how is that going to change you, being the father of a girl?
I’m ready. Even though it’s my first, I just feel like this is something that I was set and put here to do. Especially with this whole thing with Kobe [Bryant] going on, it’s just making me look at it in a completely different way. I was already looking at it and just taking it very seriously, but now, with this, it just makes me cherish my family and my friends and people who are close to me even more. I’m just going to really go hard and live every day like it’s my last.
Are you nervous about having a daughter out here?
I’m just excited. I’m more excited than nervous. I’m not really nervous about it. I just can’t wait to hold her, dress her up, put her in some furs, put my jewelry on her, and that’s about it.
I did want to ask, in that same vein, how is it being a stepfather to Erica’s son?
I feel like the transition was so effortless, it didn’t feel like something that I had to prep for or feel like, I’m getting ready to do this. It’s something that just naturally happened and just is a natural cool bond. It’s nothing where I’ve got to think outside of the norm. I am who I am and just do the right thing around him.
So you and her son get along really well?
Yeah! He loves beating me up and stuff like that, so it’s fun.
I have to ask you about the “Smooth Criminal” performance you did at the baby shower. What inspired you to want to do that there?
Originally I wanted to do that at the wedding, but it was just so much going on with the wedding, I couldn’t prepare for it in time. I was just like, you know what? I’m going to do it at the baby shower. I had the whole routine, but it was originally supposed to be me and my sister and a couple of my groomsmen, but they weren’t taking it as serious as I was. They weren’t ready to lean and defy the laws of gravity, so I had to just do it myself and just body it. I had so much fun doing that.
It looked like it for sure. And it seems you get a good deal of support from Erica to be that way, because some would say, “This is about me and the baby, not a moment for you.”
The baby enjoyed it!
In reference to those types of moments though, and for instance, how you had photos of yourself displayed at her birthday party, what do you say to people who say you’re too focused on yourself?
Nah, you know what? When it comes to the show, people just gotta be entertained. When it comes to the show, I do things because it’s TV. If I were to have just done a real birthday party for her and it was just for her, there would be nothing funny about that. There would be nothing to talk about. But the fact that I threw her a party and when you walk in all you see is me, that’s funny.
True. So you’re putting on a show at all times.
The people want to know: How many furs do you have?
I should start numbering my coats.
I feel like I’ve seen this one you have on a few times.
You know what? I just got this coat for Christmas. My wife got this for me for Christmas so I just got this [signature in my coat] to let people know I’m not borrowing coats and all this other stuff. No shade to the people who do, but I’ve been a fur connoisseur for a long time now.
Where does that love come from?
My stylist, Messiah, he put me in a purple fur vest. That was the first thing he ever put me in and ever since then, I just was like, I loved the way it felt. I got addicted.
My co-worker, who is Jamaican, thought you wear furs because you’re Jamaican and you guys like to be flamboyant in style [laughs].
Of course! American people, they don’t really get it. But if you’re Jamaican, you’re from the islands, you just understand we’re loud. We’re not put here to just be the quietest person in the room. I don’t need to yell or be loud for you to see me, though. I could sit in a room and you’re going to still hear me without me saying a word.
And lastly, because the people also want to know, you decided you’re not doing the penis mold thing correct?
They might still put it out. The thing is, when they went to go mold it, they didn’t have enough clay.
They ran out of the silicone latex so they were like, “Safaree, we need 10 million jugs of the silicone, and until we get that, we’re going to have to figure it out.” But it’s still on the table, it’s just some particulars to get together.
What about Erica though? She can’t be with it.
She’s all for it! She wants to give it and ship it to people so bad. She wants it out so bad. I don’t mind everyone having a piece of the meat at home.