In the dedication of her revelatory 2020 memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the octave-owning pop queen called her children "the physical embodiment of unconditional love."
Which they surely are as the apples of their mother's eye, her heart growing "two times over" when they were born. But fraternal twins Monroe and Moroccan Cannon also happen to be living a life fit for royalty, only with more demonstrative displays of affection and quite possibly more outfit changes.
First, however, we may have to register an objection with Father Time, because somehow the daughter and son that Mariah Carey had with former husband Nick Cannon are turning 10 years old April 30, even though it feels as if "Dem Babies" just got here. But no, Roe and Roc have been "Dem Kids" for awhile (it's already been several years since they swam with "gentle" sharks)—as adorable as ever but now with encyclopedic knowledge of Prince songs (the "G-rated" ones, their mom notes), fully fledged personalities, cascades of curls and appropriately enviable wardrobes, with even the pandemic-year pajama sets radiating luxury.
Not that it comes as any surprise that the children of the star who bubble-bathes in diamonds and wears a full-on gown for Christmas dinner at home were going to have the most fabulous little lives that their mother could give them.
Reflecting on her own unstable childhood and adolescence marred by verbal abuse and racist encounters, explicitly detailed for the first time in her book, Carey marveled over the "safe and abundant environment" she's been able to provide for her own kids.
And proudly abundant, at that.
"Rather than being uprooted thirteen times, they live in multiple gorgeous, pristine, and palatial homes," she wrote. "Instead of exposed nails in the stairs and filthy carpeting, they run freely down long, shiny marble hallways, slide in their socks, and squeal with delight. In lieu of a three-legged rocking couch, they watch films on a cinema-style screen from a steady, luxurious custom-made one of goose-down cushions that's bigger than my first apartment."
Even more important than providing stuff to her kids, though, was providing safety and security.
"They have multitudes of memories and images of being with two loving parents together," she wrote. "Their lives have never been threatened. Cops have never stormed our house. They probably have 300 shirts to rotate and donate, and their sweet, soft curls are deeply understood. They do not live in fear. They have never needed to escape."
Yet from an early age, due to her own traumatic experiences, Carey hadn't even considered having children, telling Out magazine in 2014, "I never, ever thought I was going to have kids—ever. I remember as a child, saying, 'I'm never going to get married; I'm never going to have kids.'"
Then, after a professionally fruitful but personally draining marriage to Sony exec Tommy Mottola, who's 20 years her senior, she vowed to never get married again.
But falling for Cannon, 10 years her junior, changed everything. "Having children together became our reason," she wrote in her book. "Our desire to have children became a force of nature and why we got married so quickly."
They wed on April 30, 2008 in an intimate ceremony that Carey called "a total spiritual celebration" at her home in the Bahamas. They set about having a family right away and Carey did get pregnant later that year, but just as she was preparing to announce their joyous news at a Christmas event, a routine sonogram found that there was no longer a heartbeat.
Carey was devastated, but determined. She cut out unnecessary work demands and focused entirely on preparing her body "to healthily hold and sustain life," she wrote. Whether her efforts, including meditation and acupuncture, actually helped or not, in October 2010 Carey and Cannon announced that she was pregnant.
It wasn't until December that Cannon revealed that they had not one, but two, babies on the way (though Michelle Obama already knew, Carey having whispered the news to the first lady during the taping of the 29th annual Christmas in Washington special days prior).
"And at this point she hadn't told anybody anything because doctors advised us to keep it to ourselves until we get further along," Cannon shared on his morning radio show. "And because of the excitement, because of the emotion, she was overwhelmed, she shared with the president and first lady that we are having twins."
Carey called it her "miracle pregnancy"—though the effects on her body (a 100-pound weight gain, edema, gestational diabetes) were about as human as it gets—and she gave a shout-out to Cannon's mother, Beth, for being a particularly comforting presence at that time.
The wonders of nature continued when the twins were born on their parents' third anniversary—which did not prevent them from renewing their vows yet again, as they would do five times during their six-year marriage.
"Yup we just had a wedding in the hospital! Thank you to the Rev Al [Sharpton] who came all the way to the hospital to renew me and my wife's vows and pray with our children," Cannon tweeted.
Moreover, as Cannon would reveal years later, Carey had him fire up a recording of a live performance of her smash-hit "Fantasy" as the twins were being born ("she shut the whole hospital down," he told Gayle King)—and even their names had the stamp of the diva, Carey wanting her children to also have the initials "MC." She has explained that her baby girl was named after her childhood hero Marilyn Monroe, while her son got his name from the Moroccan room in their house, site of many a magical moment for her and Cannon, and it rhymed with Rakim, a name the couple also really liked.
Roe and Roc—playfully christened "Dem Babies" by their parents—became Carey's "reason to live," as she put it, from that day forward.
They made their recording debut when they were 2 years old, their coos captured on the track "Supernatural" off her 2014 album Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse.
"They were singing this when they were, like, just 2," Carey teased to ET Canada at the time. "Mainly it's Ms. Monroe singing, and Roc is on there...You'll hear, I can't give it away. She is actually singing, though." (If you have a physical copy, you'll note that the song includes the elaborate credit "with special guest stars 'Dembabies' a.k.a. Ms. Monroe & Mr. Moroccan Scott Cannon a.k.a. Roc 'N Roe)."
Cannon said that he never planned to encourage the kids to follow their parents into the entertainment business—but if they had their hearts set on it one day, of course he'd support them.
"I mean, if my kids came to me and said, 'All I want to do is sing, dance or act,' as much as I wouldn't want them to do it, if this is their passion, I wanna support it," explained the actor and host over the years of several shows including America's Got Talent and Nick Cannon Present: Wild 'N Out. "But I definitely don't wanna encourage it, like, I don't wanna be a stage parent. If this is what they want to do with their lives, I would encourage school plays, choirs at church, and then when they reach a certain age and they've gotten the education that they want, then I'll say, 'OK, let's pursue it as an adult.'"
Whether he was subtly disapproving of the kids appearing on Carey's album or not, that was for them to sort out.
Regardless of that possible can of worms, Carey and Cannon's union was starting to unravel, and as early as the fall of 2014—amidst their various public grievance-airings—they were taking some time apart and Carey was considering filing for divorce. They patched things up enough to stick together for another year before Cannon ultimately filed for divorce in December 2015.
Despite having a prenuptial agreement, it took a couple of years to work out all the details, but they became amiable co-parents, coming together for Halloween (Carey loves to go all out for every holiday), the kids' impeccably curated birthday parties and other milestones.
"We will always be family, and we make it work," Carey wrote in her memoir. "We still have fun, reminisce and joke. And we both are certain that Roc and Roe are indeed our light. Every day they give us new life." (Cannon, meanwhile, is about to become a father of six, having had two more kids with model Brittany Bell and now expecting twins with Abby de la Rosa.)
And Monroe and Moroccan might just be born entertainers, Carey telling E! News in 2016 that they were funny enough, what with their secret-language twin talk, to have their own show. Cannon, too, told E! News the following year that his then-6-year-olds were definitely a couple of hams.
"They love attention," he said. "They love performing. My son is fascinated with cameras and directing and making little movies. They definitely have the bug."
Still, though, "I'd rather them be nuclear physicists or brain surgeons," Cannon added. "But I can't control that. So if they want to be entertainers, I'll support it."
They're certainly getting an up close and personal look, as Carey wrote in her book that she doesn't leave the twins for more than 24 hours at a time. She's got family-like friends (the and devoted employees to care for them while she's working and, she emphasized, "they have never, ever, ever been left alone."
And Roe and Roc are, indeed, her favorite partners in crime, going on tour with her (and sometimes sharing the stage), playing in the snow in Aspen, swimming in Italy, meeting the president of the United States (the Obamas were first to know they were both coming, the least they could do was have a face-to-face), hanging out with Beyoncé and Blue Ivy Carter (because how many of their peers truly comprehend this life?), and sporting the merch when Mom has a book to promote.
Life has been cozy but confined to those aforementioned palatial residences during COVID, the usual jet-setting on hold for a year. But the show has gone on, Roc and Roe joining their mother (as well as Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Billy Eichner, Tiffany Haddish and more) for Mariah Carey's Magical Christmas Special on Apple TV+.
While they don't have their own TikTok accounts yet, Dem Kids not being quite old enough for that particular privilege, Monroe went viral last March lip-syncing vintage-Mariah high notes in one of her mom's videos, and both kids got into the hand-washing game to the strains of Carey and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Fantasy" remix to demonstrate the importance of lathering up for at least 20 seconds.
There weren't any horse-drawn sleigh rides this past Christmas, but considering Carey's Yuletide ritual always include a big family meal, jammies, hot cocoa, a massive tree and a pile of presents, they managed to carry out most of her favorite traditions—traveling to snowier climes in a tricked-out bus that presumably was also bigger than Carey's first apartment.
And there is literally no holiday or occasion that doesn't merit an elaborate balloon situation, be it her induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame last year, Valentine's Day, her book launch, St. Patrick's Day or, most recently, Easter.
Monroe and Moroccan can be forgiven for thinking that life has just been one big celebration so far, because their mom wouldn't have it any other way.