Blended Family (What You Do For Love)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is Alicia Keys' message to her stepson, Kasseem Dean Jr., who was nine years old when the song was released. Kasseem's father is the producer Swizz Beats (the senior Kasseem Dean), and his mother is the R&B singer Mashonda Tifrere. They married in 2004 but split up in 2009; Swizz and Keys were married in 2010 and had their first child, Egypt, later that year.

    In the song, Keys acknowledges the challenges children face in non-traditional families, and affirms her love for Kasseem:

    I might not really be your mother
    That don't mean that I don't really love ya
  • In a statement on her website, Keys wrote: "I'm so excited for you to hear this song. It means so much to me and our whole family. The understanding, compassion and support we've found is a powerful testament to the healing that comes when we choose love. Especially for the kids... the most important part of our lives. Celebrating Mashonda for our commitment to each other with support and true growth."
  • Things weren't always civil between Keys and Mashonda Tifrere. Swizz and Keys started their relationship when he was still married to Mashonda, and the love triangle became gossip fodder. On September 25, 2009, Keys tweeted:

    N love is it better to go 4 the choice that is "SMART" or the choice that has "SPARK"??

    This drew the ire of Mashonda, who replied with a lengthy statement, which read in part:

    If you are reading this Alicia, let me start by saying, you know what you did. You know the role you played and you know how you contributed to the ending of my marriage. You know that I asked you to step back and let me handle my family issues. Issues that you helped to create.

    Eventually, Mashonda and Keys put their differences aside for the sake of Kasseem. When the song was released, Mashonda posted on Instagram:

    "Blended Family" is a true testament of love, growth and healing. I'm BEYOND proud of the work that the three of us most consciously applied to bettering ourselves for each other and our children's sake. This is only the beginning for us. And, it feels so good! Blessings to you.

    Keys addresses this dustup in the song:

    I know it started with a little drama
    I hate you had to read it in the paper
    But everything's all right with me and your mama
  • A$AP Rocky takes a verse on this track, acknowledging his own blended family and the benefits that came with it:

    Loved Christmas time and birthday was fly
    Ate at my sisters just for dinner cause the cookin' was bomb
  • The black-and-white video shows Keys celebrating blended families everywhere. Included is Keys' own ménage; with producer husband Swizz Beats, sons Egypt and Genesis and stepsons Prince and Kasseem, plus Swizz Beats's ex-wife, Mashonda.

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