Ed Cage and his daughter, Nicole Paris, share a love of beatboxing. The duo's YouTube beatbox battle went viral in 2015, and since, they've traveled the world performing together.
He got into beatboxing growing up in St. Louis' hip-hop scene in the 1980s. Nicole was introduced even younger.
"When mom was pregnant with you, I would get right up on her stomach and beatbox to mom's belly and you would feel the vibration," Ed tells Nicole during a StoryCorps conversation. "And when I did that, you would just shake."
Ed became a dad at the age of 16 when Nicole's older brother was born. Nicole was born three years later. Though young, he decided to dedicate himself to his family, sometimes holding down as many as four jobs to support them. Nicole says he was gone a lot, and she often missed him.
"You being away so much growing up, that was hard," she says.
It was beatboxing that helped keep them close, Ed says.
"I didn't want to be the dude that came in and left, so I had to figure out how I was as a father going to connect, and you would always like to hear me beatbox, so you used to sit up on my lap and you would just bang your head trying to keep that beat going," he tells her. "I remember one time, you was making a whole bunch of crazy sounds, and I told you, 'I don't know what that is!' But then I had to check myself and say, 'Well, whatever you want to do, Nicole. That's what you do, OK?' "
Now, Ed says, beatboxing is part of their language.
"You go to sleep beatboxing, when you wake up we're beatboxing, when we're cooking, when we're driving — so when you and I communicate with each other, we can do it by beats," he says. [Listen to the interview above to hear Ed and Nicole beatbox to convey moods.]
"Pops, I love the bond that me and you share," Nicole says.
"It's something, Nicky, to see you go out into the world continually trying to be the best that you can be, I just absolutely love that about you. And as a father that's all I can ask for," Ed says.
Produced for Morning Edition by Liyna Anwar.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It's time now for StoryCorps. And today, we're going to hear from a father and his apprentice - Ed Cage and his 26-year-old daughter, Nicole Paris. Back in the '80s, Ed immersed himself in the St. Louis hip-hop scene and fell in love with beatboxing. Fast forward a couple of decades, and that love is now firmly planted in Nicole, as well. They came to StoryCorps to talk about how it all started.
ED CAGE: When mom was pregnant with you, I would get right up on her stomach and beatbox to mom's belly. (Beatboxing). And you would feel the vibration.
NICOLE PARIS: (Laughter).
CAGE: And when I did that, you would just shake. And one of the greatest joys of my life was actually seeing you being born.
PARIS: Were you prepared at all to be a father?
CAGE: No. No, I wasn't prepared.
CAGE: I was 16 when we had your brother. So when I said, OK, I'm going to do this, I threw everything into it.
PARIS: You had, like, two, three - how many jobs...
CAGE: No, I had four jobs.
PARIS: Four jobs?
CAGE: I had so many jobs at one time, Nicole, I was going to the wrong job.
PARIS: You know, you being away so much growing up - that was hard.
CAGE: Yeah. I didn't want to be the dude that came in and left. So I had to figure out how I was, as a father, going to connect. And you would always like to hear me beatbox. So you used to sit up on my lap, and you would just bang your head trying to keep that beat going. I remember one time you was making a whole bunch of crazy sounds. And I told you, I don't know what that is. But then I had to check myself and say, well, whatever you want to do, Nicole, that's what you do, OK? And now you go to sleep beatboxing. When you wake up, we're beatboxing - when we cooking, when we driving. So when you and I communicate with each other, we can do it by beats.
PARIS: Yes. Let's say if I don't agree with something that you doing, and I feel angry...
CAGE: Why, you just roll your eyes at me (laughter).
PARIS: Because you make me mad.
PARIS: I'll do more of a bass beat, kind of like (beatboxing).
CAGE: Yeah. I can tell when you're not feeling good 'cause your beats are (beatboxing) real down.
CAGE: But when you are feeling, like, I'm ready to take on the world, you (beatboxing).
PARIS: Right. Pops, I love the bond that me and you share.
CAGE: You know, baby it's something, Nicky (ph), to see you go out into the world continually trying to be the best that you can be. I just absolutely love that about you. And as a father, that's all I can ask for.
MARTIN: That is so good. Ed Cage talking with his daughter Nicole Paris in St. Louis, Mo. Today, the beatboxing duo travels the world, performing together. Their story is going to be archived at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.