Glen Henry, aka Beleaf Melanin, is a local rapper and stay at home dad who started his own web series, "Beleaf in Fatherhood," in 2015. The series is a nuanced take on parenting that feels as much like a family scrapbook as it does a reality sitcom.
In between break beats and toddler breakdowns, Henry shares his experience as a father of two in real time. He shoots videos with his iPhone twice a week and says the concepts come to him naturally. It's as easy as trying to put his sons to sleep for a nap -- if they cry or fuss, then boom, he has a new idea for a clip. Some shorts are premeditated -- like when he knew he wanted to do something about potty training -- but for the most part Melanin makes it up as he goes.
"It's a form of accountability," he says. The series is not only a record of his words, but it's also a history of his actions. There's an episode with Henry finishing off a honey-do list, covered in sawdust, laying down hardwood floors. By his own admission he's not a very handy guy, and he'd never done anything like that before. But he wanted to complete the project himself so he could pass the skill on to his sons: "I want my kids to look back and think, this was cool."
Henry started out with less than a hundred subscribers on his YouTube channel, but in the past year his audience has grown to over 11,000 followers. While that's a huge confidence booster, it's not his main goal.
"The point is we're here and trying our best," he says, hoping that through his missteps other parents discover that mistakes are a part of the process, and it all comes with the territory.
For now, he still makes room for his music, but with the series growing as fast as it is he's not sure how long he can do both. He's not even sure he wants to.
"I don't wanna be rapping at 45," Henry says. Fair enough -- he seems most content as a father. And one less rapper won't matter much in the grand scheme of it all, but a parent who's present? That's a game changer.