But Who Prays for Kidada?

When Warsan Shire says you can't make homes out of human beings, she got it terribly wrong.  For those who don’t quite fit, who are noticeably different—the rebels, the insurgents, the ones who won’t take shit—they find solace in spirits that houses could never quite encapsulate.  Aside from mothers who pray that one day someone will achieve the feat of understanding their children, who takes time to include the misunderstood, the heartbroken, and the lonely?  For Kidada Jones, more fondly known as Pie, growing up in the bi-racial household of pop culture icons as the daughter of music legend Quincy Jones and Mod Squad's Peggy Lipton did not always prepare her for the harsh realities of the world.  She found comfort in two artistic angels— as Aaliyah Dana Haughton's best friend and as the fiancé of Tupac Amaru Shakur during the time of his death.

As her mother described in her autobiography Breathing Out, “You had to have stamina and courage to be around Kidada.  No wusses allowed.”  For Kidada— who had notably Black features— attending prominent, predominantly white private schools, she stood out like a sore thumb.  While her sister, Rashida Jones, was prim with straight hair and green eyes, Kidada was more outspoken with curly hair and darker skin.  She was often teased by her peers and, because of this was expelled from 10 schools under the basis of behavior problems before ultimately being diagnosed with dyslexia. Rashida always identified more with her Jewish side, and excelled in school—eventually receiving her undergraduate degree from Harvard University.  It wasn’t until their parents divorced that Kidada was able to attend a predominantly Black public high school where she thrived off acceptance and inevitably found her own style—going on to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising before working as Tommy Hilfiger’s muse for 8 years.  "It was difficult for me to watch her struggle with such painful questions of identity, which inevitably stoked the fierceness in her personality," her mother describes, "But it was the ferocity that let me know Kidada would always find her own place in the world.”

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In an interview with Glamour in 2005, Rashida and Kidada speak to growing up in separate households after their parents' divorce— Kidada opting to stay with her father Quincy and Rashida living with their mother — speaking largely to the side they identified with most.  This put a strain on their relationship as Kidada, who'd battled with acceptance her entire life was well-received at a Black public high school and started referring to other girls as her "sister."  Rashida describes skipping out on K's 25th birthday to which Kidada responds, "That hurt.  A lot.  But I had Aaliyah."  This is one of the few interviews that she's mentioned Aaliyah since her passing.

Aaliyah and Kidada met while modeling at a fashion show for Tommy Hilfiger and instantly hit it off.  Tommy himself had praised a cover that Kidada had styled for Vibe while she was still in school and summoned her to style for Tommy Jeans— Tommy's younger, more urban label— full-time.  In a recent interview with Complex, Andy Hilfiger credits Kidada with giving Tommy Jeans a vision that was ahead of its time.  As Aaliyah's stylist, he says she would listen to anything Kidada advised.  Aaliyah describes never buying one of anything while she shopped, always buying for herself and one for Kidada, and vice versa.  The pair had plans to launch a fashion venture before Aaliyah's fatal plane crash.  “Kidada was so shattered by Aaliyah’s death she packed up and moved in with me. It wasn’t a question of getting over Aaliyah’s death, but simply how to go on without her,” says her mother.

Before this loss, Kidada had Aaliyah to comfort her in losing her fiancé, rap icon Tupac Shakur, just a few years prior.  Her first introduction to Pac was an interview with The Source in 1993, where he exclaimed, “Interracial couples.  Quincy Jones is disgusting.  All he does is stick his d*ck in white b*tches and make fucked up kids.”  17-year-old Rashida wrote the following clapback in The Source a few months later under the premise that Tupac should respect legends like her father who pioneered the way for Blacks in the music industry:

Fast-forward three years to 1996 and Tupac and Kidada are now engaged; in fact, Tupac is now helping Rashida with a paper she’d written on him during her tenure at Harvard.  Kidada describes meeting Pac years after the incident at a nightclub where he’d apologized and she’d inevitably fall for him before the two became inseparable.  Quincy noted that his daughter had been trying to keep the pair a secret before he ultimately crashed a date in order to hash out his issues with Pac one on one.  All was forgiven, and it seemed as though everything was on the up and up.  In Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones, Kidada reflects on her father’s relationship with Pac saying, “In a way, accepting Tupac was his way of acknowledging me—my pain, and my struggle to find myself—and for that I love him.”  Tupac made a careless generalization about Kidada’s upbringing before he knew her as a person.  However, he did bring light to issues that she was having in the home.  If by fucked up he meant that biracial children struggled with identity issues, he was spot on— though distasteful and lazy in his choice of words.  Kidada may have needed someone as pro-Black and as deeply rooted in Black issues as an offspring of a Panther.  Pac’s voice and persona served as a tool for Kidada in finding herself and strengthening her relationship with her father.  If he could show love to someone who had spoken so ill of him, he must love his daughter even more.

However, the fantasy was short-lived.  On September 7, 1996, Tupac was murdered as Kidada waited for him to return to their Vegas suite after a Tyson fight.  According to Vanity Fair, he had returned to update her on a scuffle that was had with some crips after the fight and informed her that it was best for her to stay inside as he accompanied label-owner Suge Knight to the after party.  This would be the last time she’d see him standing upright. 

According to Tupac’s mother, Afeni, Pac’s sister had enrolled in cosmetology school in order to launch a cosmetics line with Kidada.  At the time, Kidada spoke of how her and Aaliyah always said they wanted to "have babies and kick back."   The person she wanted to settle down with and who'd always end calls with I'd take a bullet for you had been stripped from her just years before losing her best friend.

Today, Kidada has covered the tattoo of Tupac that she once bared on her left arm.  The 42-year-old still designs and now has a line, Kidada for Disney Couture, an accessories line for adults carried in boutiques.  On days like this, it's extremely tough for fans with Aaliyah streams being toggled before our eyes, and with the upcoming birthday of the late singer.  But I can't imagine having touched the souls of two major icons who are internationally recognized every single day, and having to tread lightly on the internet during the inescapable anniversary dates of their birthdays and homegoings.  This is tough for us, the consumers, but I can't help but wonder— who prays for Kidada? 

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