Hip-Hop is a community of individuals looking to express their art, opinions and emotions. However, we are more than what we present ourselves to be within this culture. Before Jay-Z is a mogul, he is a father, husband and son. Before Andre 3000 is an award-winning artist, he is someone’s father and someone’s son. The list goes on and on. Quinelle Holder is also a part of that list. Outside of being a business owner and publicist, he is a husband and father. In the second half of our interview, Holder opens up about maintaining his marriage, building a business with his wife and raising a one-year-old daughter.
Shifting gears a bit, In an interview with The Feature Presentation, you said, “The corniest thing I hear is when dudes say ‘I’m chasing my dreams’ with the decision to have a family. Your family shouldn’t be on the back burner.” With all of that you do, how has your work-life balance challenged over the last few years after getting married and having a kid?
That statement came from such a real place. I wouldn’t say that my work-life balance has changed a lot, but I’ll say it changed by about 50%. A lot of that 50% changed when my daughter came in the picture. My wife, Sabrina, and I have been working together for almost as long as I’ve been in the industry. I met her a year or two out of high school. She’s been with me and we’ve been working together for a long time, so our work-life balance has remained kind of the same.
All of the stuff that we were doing, while we were dating, was dope, but when we went to the marriage level it was very different. It wasn’t different in a weird way because we were legitimately friends before we started dating. Our love and our passion for the culture is what really brought us together, but just because of the responsibilities—
If you are in America, it doesn’t even really matter what class you are in. The families are all broken up. For the most part, our house structures are all [broken] to pieces. I can’t speak for everyone, but as I get older and older, I talk to people and realize that we all kind of grew up the same, even if we weren’t the same. Even if we didn’t have the same background, amount of money, or live in the same neighborhood, there’s a lot that happens. The family order and structure is really broken up. I come from that and that’s no shade to my parents, grandparents, or anyone in my family, but there were a lot of different things that happened.
When it came to marriage, I really just wanted to make sure that it was my priority. I wanted to make sure that my wife was my priority. I’m not even going to lie. Man, I even got checked maybe two to three years ago. My wife and I went and sat with a marriage counselor. I wasn’t because we had any issues, but there was something happening and we both said that we should talk to somebody at the church about it. While we were there, Sabrina said the realest thing. Actually, that’s what it was. The baby was coming, so this was about a year ago. While we were there, we were talking about how we were doing things and Sabrina said the realest thing. She said that she loved what we were doing with Medium Creative Agency and she is a full-time photographer, so she does all of her own stuff. However, she said she wanted me to be ok with the agency not being my top priority. She said she wanted me to be ok with her being my wife and being the mother of this child that’s on the way. She didn’t want me to be upset with her because of that. Initially, we said we were going to work toward this, build the agency up and this and that. I’m not going to lie. I was kind of hurt, but I knew she was right. In hindsight, I’m glad that she was honest, she said that and she kept it a buck with me.
“Ultimately, everything me and Sabrina do is for our daughter.”
Like I said, the balance is like 50-50 now. A lot of it has to do with the baby, but as a husband, there are also things that I won’t do. I won’t take a call at a certain time. I won’t go to a certain event. I won’t do a certain thing because it cuts into my family time. I’m not going to lie to you. There are certain people that don’t feel it. I’m sure they don’t rock with me right now because they don’t understand that I’ve made a commitment. I look at marriage from a traditional, Christian point of view even though I’m not very religious, but I look at it from that point of view. I look at it in divine order. It’s God, then my wife and kid, then my parents, my brother, my sister and everyone else is after that. I didn’t even say anything about my agency, my other businesses or anything else that I’m doing because they’re not my priority.
Ultimately, everything me and Sabrina do is for our daughter. We want her to have a certain type of life. Then, we want her to get married, have kids and the quality of life trickle down forever until the world ends. If we do this right and instill the proper values, we can show her that the industry doesn’t come before you. That’s what I meant when I made that comment. I’m so sick of people being like—and I hate to use this example because it’s already fake. People will be on Love & Hip-Hop while their kids are in a different state living with the other parent, but they’ll get on camera and say that they are doing it for their kids. Meanwhile, I’m like no! You’re not [doing it for your kids]. You’re doing it for you. If you were doing it for them, you wouldn’t have had kids or the moment that you did, you would have made them a priority. You can still work half and half and still get what you need to do. Up until your kids are teenagers or it clicks in their mind that their grown now and have to take responsibility for themselves, you need to physically be in your kid’s life. The people that aren’t doing that? It always shows.
The last question I had involves the demonstrations against social injustice of the last few weeks. How do you prepare to raise a young daughter in this chaotic world while maintaining her innocence for as long as you can?
Man, that’s a good question. Sabrina is Brazilian and Portuguese. I am of Haitian and West Indian descent. The biggest thing we want is for our daughter to be extremely proud of who she is. We want her to be just as proud to be Brazilian as she is Haitian. We want her to be just as proud of being white as she is Black.
This is me being all the way candid with you. Regardless of the group you grew up with, you’re automatically going to be prejudiced to another group by default. You won’t necessarily be racist, but you are going to be prejudiced. We all have a bit of that in us. It’s not with malice, but I’m just saying it’s because of how we were raised. It’s saying things like “you’re a cool white boy.” We’re saying that’s a cool white boy because in our minds a white boy wouldn’t be cool. We didn’t grow up with a white boy. You get what I’m saying? It’s not in the sense of being racist, but rather it’s in the sense of prejudice because you don’t really know or understand someone. That’s prejudice. People of color can be prejudiced, but we can’t be racist by the definition of the word. The level of prejudice someone has depends on how they grew up, so what we are doing is dispelling a lot of that. Even when we were together, everybody has seen Black people date Latinos before and this and that, but when I would tell people Sabrina was Brazilian they would say, “Oh, yeah. Oh, she’s Brazilian.” Then, I’d ask, “But you do know there’s white Brazilians and Black Brazilians, right?” It’s not the same thing. She’s not an Afro-Latino, but they don’t get it. Everything is like a justification. As long as you’re not all the way white, you can be this or be that and we’ll accept you, right?
What we’ve been doing during this time within the two sides of our family is calling people out. If all of this stuff is going on and you’re being quiet, you’re perpetuating racism by not using your voice even if you’re not racist. We’ve been adamant about that. I put up a status letting people know that if I go through your timeline and I don’t see you saying anything about this then I’m getting rid of you.
To your point, my daughter is already going to grow up in the world as a little Black girl. Regardless of how mixed she is, the melanin in her skin will put her at risk for things that she wouldn’t have been at risk for if her mother had chosen to marry and have kids with a white guy. Number one, the way that you prepare her is making sure that her family has real allies. If you realize that your family can’t speak up and recognize that things need to change, [there’s a problem]. They’re so wrapped up in saying “Oh, well. It’s a political thing. I don’t think it’s that bad.” Once they start saying stuff like that, I have to ask, “Do you think my daughter’s going to be around you?” They could say anything. They’re speaking from a reality that they don’t know. Her mother doesn’t know the reality of it. She’s sympathetic. She’s been with me. She understands. She’s for the movement, but her mother isn’t Black. My daughter is Black. If you can’t speak up for us or stand up for us, [that’s a problem]. That’s one of the biggest ways we’ve been doing this.
She’s one and she’s picking up on things. She is in a great place because every day that she wakes up she has a mother who is white in color, a father who is in Black color and she sees her own skin. For her, she already has a certain level of understanding that people are people. You get what I’m saying? But she has to know the reality that comes with that. If the family is perpetuating ideas or they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I don’t want them around her. I need her to be taught the right way about what’s what. I don’t want her to be so naive where something happens to her and she’s like, “Oh, I’m good. I’m light-skinned.” No, No, No. No, you’ve got some melanin in you. Unfortunately, you have an opportunity to end up like any of these people. It’s not because you’re darker or lighter. It can literally happen if you have any melanin in you. There are distinguishing features that you. You have to be protected.
The other way that we’re preparing her is through culture. She spends a lot of time with her in-laws. They’re teaching her Portuguese and introducing her to different things. When she’s with me, it’s just culture, culture, culture. A lot of that just happens because that’s just me.
Even when me and Sabrina were dating—Sabrina is one of the best photographers I’ve ever met. When we were coming up, she was doing a lot of filming and vlogging with me. When she was at Old Dominion, she was taking a film class, but she didn’t know who Spike Lee was. When I tell you we put her on that Spike Lee collection, she was amazed. I’m just saying that to say we are constantly being dripped in culture. She does the same with me. I do the same with her. We do all of this for the sake of my daughter. One of the biggest things that we’re doing is being financially responsible and we’re also taking action, right? The things that are happening in America are not our fault. You and I didn’t do anything to deserve what is going on, to be treated a certain way, etc. We didn’t do anything to deserve that. However, we do have a strong understanding that this is the way the system is set up and until it changes, we need to be prepared.
To answer the second part of your question, we’re being proactive. We’re not going to be stereotyped. We’re not going to just pray and hope the world gets it right so that she can be prepared. We put money aside. We’re showing her what it looks like to own her own business. Do you know how dope it is that both of her parents are working for record labels, but they have their own agency? If I stopped working with Pusha’s label and she stopped working her job, we’d still have our own company. We’re teaching that you need to have multiple streams of income, be financially stable and become financially literate. I want my daughter to know how to save a dollar and how important it is to make connections and maintain relationships. I want her to make sure that no matter what that she can take care of herself.