Discussing Nas’ “Daughters” & A Look At Fatherhood in Hip-Hop
While not being the first song dedicated to his daughter, Nas‘ latest single “Daughters” finally meets its visual accomplice after the song’s successful release to the public. Slated to appear on his tenth album, ”Life is Good” due out July 17th, it came with some unexpected criticism.
Written out of love and respect for his daughter, Destiny, Nas returned to Twitter the next day to a supply of heated anger (or guilt) from Destiny’s mother, Carmen Bryan. Claiming that the song had “nothing positive to say,” Bryan found herself at a war of words with others who felt differently. And apparently, Destiny was among them, as she appeared on set and in the closing scene of the video.
Since the song’s release, it’s been praised for its contribution to the hip hop catalogue which has been lacking in diversity on the radio. As a vantage point for many fathers, it provides a point of view that is rarely heard in all musical genres. Through his description of his experiences as a father, he explains the difficulty that comes with being a father to a daughter, and the dichotomy that automatically comes from that. Especially coming from a culture whose biggest criticism is misogyny and disrespect of women.
It ain’t easy to raise a girl as a single man
Nah, the way mothers feel for they sons, how fathers feel for they daughters
When he date, he straight, chip off his own papa
When she date, we wait behind the door with the sawed off
Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters
But there are many artists who have dedicated songs to their offspring, although there’s not many who actually went so far to release it as an official single, which makes the song so revolutionary today.
Earlier this year–following the birth of his first child– Jay-Z released a song about the struggles he and his wife Beyonce experienced up until the creation of Blue. Speaking from a place Nas was in 17 years ago, Jay-Z has had several songs throughout the years that predicted the inevitable birth of a daughter, such as “Beach Chair” from 2006:
See I got demons in my past
So I got daughters on the way
If the prophecy’s correct
Then the child should have to pay
For the sins of a father
So I barter my tomorrows against my yesterdays
In hopes that she’ll be okay
Here, he was contemplative about the pitfalls his daughter may have to go through in her lifetime because of choices he made in his. But by the time of her actual birth 6 years later, “Glory” was a victorious tale with a large dash of hope:
Last time the miscarriage was so tragic
We was afraid you’d disappear, but nah, baby, you magic (voilà)
So there you have it, shit happens
Just make sure the plane you on is bigger than your carry-on baggage
Everybody go through stuff
Life is a gift, love, open it up
The evolution of these rap legends through fatherhood is a very important step in the history of hip-hop, as we are just now approaching a new time in the genre. The once young, wild and free rappers are growing up to be entrepreneurs with wives, children, and responsibilities to take on with a new state of mind.
Following the release of Jay-Z’s “Glory,” Joanna Molloy wrote a piece in the New York Daily News declaring Jay-Z’s song a great influence to Black men, claiming that it will influence them to be more active in their child’s life. Also citing a statistic that claimed 72% of African-Americans grow up without fathers when in actuality, 72% do not live in the same household, which is not a reflection of the lack of a father rather than a reflection of America’s divorce rate and single-parent homes.
Either way, what Molloy didn’t understand is that Jay-Z is among the growing population of African-American men. He is not the leader of his peers, but a reflection of them. Knowing what it was like to grow up without the influence of a father, he has openly discussed his past issues and future aspirations for his offspring through his music.
What Molloy was clearly unaware of as well, is that hip hop fathers have created plenty of songs for their children, daughters and sons alike, since its earliest years. Below are a few of my favorites throughout this time. Including many that you may have forgotten even existed.
Ja Rule, “Daddy’s Little Baby”
Daddy’s little baby, must learn this world is shady
And the color of your skin don’t make you less of a lady
Degrade yourself, never cuz I’m teaching you better
Life ain’t all about cheddar diamonds and leather
Understand you a black sister, in this white man’s
World, don’t let it get ya, down girl
Slick Rick, “It’s A Boy”
Pictured friends, milk and cookies, when you’re done with the boys game
Toy plane, Ricky Jr. be a bundle of joys name
And furthermore teach birds and bees
So won’t be a nerd and burst herds of, second and thirds of
and “Dada” better be the first words of
But he left me without saying what he was leavin for
And that’s when I became a man (became a man)
And that’s the day he stopped bein one (bein one)
This year I became a father (father)
And I’m a die bein one, what’s up son?
Eminem, “Hailie’s Song”
Man if I could sing, I’d keep singing this song to my daughter
If I could hit the notes,I’d blow something as long as my father
To show her how I feel about her, how proud I am that I got her
God, I’m a daddy, I’m so glad that her mom didn’t ...
Will Smith, “Just The Two Of Us”
That night I don’t think one wink I slept
As I slipped out my bed, to your crib I crept
Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt
Cause I know I loved you more than life itself
Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please
Let me be a good daddy, all he needs
Love, knowledge, discipline too
I pledge my life to you
The Game, “Like Father, Like Son”
I wanna thank Dr. Aswork and Nurse Teresa
For bringin my baby boy to life, you birthed a Caesar
And my baby momma Alyska, for pushin out a ten pound
Four ounce Mini-Me, I still can’t believe it
Nose ears eyes chin, just like your daddy
I’d die before you grow up and be just like your daddy
There’s plenty more where that comes from… Do you have a favorite hip-hop father’s ballad?