Renee Black, the mother of A$AP Rocky, has endured a number of hardships throughout the years. She ended up homeless with her son and living in shelters, she endured the loss of a son and daughter, and Rocky’s father was jailed.
Black has spoken out publicly since her son’s arrest after a fight in Sweden. She’s leapt to the defense of the rapper, whom she largely raised in Harlem. Rocky has been charged with a crime in Sweden, and he could face a possible punishment of two years incarceration.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Black Is Pleading for A$AP Rocky’s Release
Renee Black has spoken out in defense of her son and is asking for his release in Sweden, where he was arrested after a fight in Stockholm.
President Donald Trump has joined those who support Sweden returning ASAP Rocky to the U.S.
Black told a Swedish newspaper: “I don’t even want to think about or say it. I really don’t. I don’t want to rock any boats. I don’t want to stir up any trouble, anything that is going to cause my son not to be released and be able to come home. I’m pleading, I hope, that they let my son home. I really do.”
Asked by TMZ if she thought her son’s treatment was race-based, she said, “if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.” Video showed Rocky and others with him beating a man after the man allegedly followed and harassed them. Rocky’s security guard was accused of picking the man up by the neck before the man struck him with headphones, according to TMZ.
2. Black Named Her Son After a Hip-Hop Singer
A$AP Rocky’s real name is Rakim Mayers, and that name choice has its roots in music.
According to Biography, Rocky was “born in Harlem to Barbadian parents,” and was named Rakim Mayers “after his mom’s hip-hop hero, from Eric B & Rakim.”
In a documentary, Renee Black explained, “Back in ’88, Rakim & Eric B, I mean, they was popping…I’m a hip-hop lover, I’m a music lover. So, if I had a boy he was gonna be named Rakim.” She once actually saw the singer and asked him to sign Rocky’s diapers, Complex reports.
Black also named her daughter after that singer – her name is Erika B. A$AP Rocky’s sister died in 2016. ASAP Rocky started rapping when he was only 8-years-old.
3. Black Lost a Son to Homicide
A$AP Rocky and Renee Black have endured a number of family hardships.
His brother Ricky, 20, was murdered by a rival dealer.
Renee rushed to tell A$AP Rocky that his brother was dead when he was on his way to school at the age of 13, according to Biography. Rocky told MTV: “Ricky, my older brother, he died on this block. He got shot right around the corner at 20 years old. I was going to school down the block at the time and I remember my mom rushed [over to tell me] ‘your brother just got shot.'”
He added: “He was so tough I thought he was gonna make it. I didn’t think he was gonna pass and but we were up the block at St. Luke’s [Hospital] and that’s when it happened. February 22, that’s when they announced it.”
4. A$AP Rocky & His Mom Lived in Shelters for a Time
Rocky’s childhood was full of instability.
“Rocky, his mom and two sisters spent time living in shelters,” reported Biography.com. “They moved around frequently: Harlem, the Bronx, Philadelphia and North Carolina.”
Rocky took MTV to one of those shelters. “There was a lot of hard times in this place,” he said to MTV. “But it’s not the end of the world because life is what you make it. [There’s] people out there who got it better but this is a place that helps women get on their feet — with government assistance and before you know it, things are alright.”
His grandmother still lives in Harlem, Buzzfeed reports, and ASAP Rocky visits her every Mother’s Day.
5. Rocky’s Father Went to Jail for Drug Dealing & Rocky Moved His Mom to New Jersey
According to The New York Times, Rocky moved with his mom to Elmwood Park, New Jersey. “I needed peace of mind to be creative, I needed peace of mind because I was getting street money and I didn’t want anybody trying to stick my family up,” he told The Times.
A$AP Rocky’s father went to jail for drug dealing when he was 12, according to Biography.com. In 2012, ASAP Rocky wrote on Twitter that his dad had died.
Rocky told Vice about his dad: “Well, my dad is from Barbados. He was a clean cut kind of a guy, especially in the way he dressed. I just took the advice he gave me and I ran with it. He told me to always be yourself and always feel comfortable with whatever decision you make because you chose to do it. Just because something doesn’t fit in doesn’t mean it’s not right.”