“Most people dream of having a family someday. So I’m just a regular American boy.” — Jay-Z
From a professional standpoint, love him or hate him, Jay-Z has done about everything an artist can possibly do. Selling out arenas worldwide, starting and ending trends and even miraculously prohibiting his album from leaking – in 2011, at that! – are only a microcosm of the accomplishments nestled under his Yankees fitted. Still, something Jay has always seemed to long for was a title many of his Hip-Hop contemporaries have held for many years.
Jay-Z’s desire to be a parent has manifested itself on wax for over a decade now. And given the fact he had the world’s biggest smile last night, a sense of relief and unbridled enjoyment could be seen come across his face as Beyonce rubbed her belly at the MTV VMA’s. Before the world accompanies Jay and Beyonce to Lamaze class, the following five songs represent different moments and emotions in Jigga’s career where he’s spoke on the subject of fatherhood. Some described fear, while others were of deep regret, while others were a “blueprint” on how he’d carry himself if blessed with the opportunity.
Song: Amil Feat. Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z – “4 Da Fam”
Album: All Money Is Legal (2000)
“Yo, y’all niggas truly ain’t ready for this Dynasty thing
Y’all thinking Blake Carrington, I’m thinking more like Ming
I got four nephews, and they all right in
They all young and wild, plus they all like things
And I’m havin a child, which is more frighting…”
This song may be the single greatest thing Amil granted Hip-Hop, excluding possibly “Can I Get A…” All jokes aside though, the song was about as quintessential Roc-A-Fella Records as there possibly was. A classic posse cut that featured strong verses from all parties involved, Hov’s admission of having a seed on the way especially eye raising at the time. Long before Beyonce-Jay dominated the tabloids, Shawn Cory’s been throwing hints that his offspring was arriving since the turn of the century.
Whatever happened to this child is the stuff of rumors though. Everything from the baby dying before birth or Young(er) Hov being shipped overseas has been presented over the years; none of which proved to ever have legs to walk on.
Song: Jay-Z “This Can’t Be Life” Feat. Beanie Sigel & Scarface
Album: The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)
“It gets worse, baby momma water burst
Baby came out stillborn, still I gotta move on
Though my heart still torn, life gone from her womb
Don’t worry, if it was meant to be, it’ll be…soon…”
Just judging from release dates, the aforementioned Amil album was released September 19, 2000. The Dynasty hit shelves Halloween 2000. So there was some wiggle room for the two tracks with two completely opposite reactions from Hov in regards to the birth of his future child. For years, I’ve tortured myself over who had the better verse between he, Beans and Face. And while a recent event in my life solidified the sheer brilliance of Brad Jordan’s, Jay’s admission of losing a child on wax was big for a guy who has always kept his personal life just that, personal.
Regardless of how emotionless a man portrays himself to be, the death of a child is enough to tear down any wall of invincibility. This verse showed a Hov who was upset with the failed pregnancy, but it also presented a Hov who was beginning to question if he would ever obtain something more significant than #1 albums to share with the world.
Song: Jay-Z “Lost Ones” Feat. Chrisettle Michele
Album: Kingdom Come (2006)
“Your girlfriend’s pregnant, the Lord’s gift
Almost lost my faith, that restored it
It’s like having your life restarted
Can’t wait for your child’s life to be apart of it
So now I’m child-like waiting for a gift
To return, when I lost you, I lost it…”
On what many consider the worst album of his career came a sensitive moment shrouded in vulnerability. “Lost Ones” was recorded at a pivotal juncture. The destruction of The R.O.C. was still a fresh would and the death of Jay’s nephew obviously affected him greatly. Speaking about Beyonce in the second verse, the lyrics were an interesting admission. He wanted something more serious, while she longed to focus on her career – which, little to our knowledge at the time, was still miles away from the apex it’s currently at. He doesn’t exactly say he wants kids, but use logic here. Who wouldn’t want to have a baby with Beyonce?
And the last verse? He said it best himself. “Lose one, let go to get one.” He meant his nephew’s girlfriend, and how losing him yet gaining his child was a blessing in disguise and how life cleanses itself. But, you have to believe he was trying to convince himself about his own plight as well.
Song: Jay-Z Feat. Lil Wayne – “Hello Brooklyn”
Album: American Gangster (2007)
“Hello Brooklyn, if we had a daughter
Guess what I’m a call her, Brooklyn Carter…”
Until Beyonce pops that little bundle of secured financial success out of her womb, best believe there will be pools across the world debating on this future child’s name. Jay’s already given the heads up on what he wants the name to be pending it’s a girl and, honestly, Brooklyn Carter doesn’t sound too bad at all.
If it’s a boy, however, I’m placing my bet on Shawn Christopher LeBron Wallace Carter-Knowles.
Song: Jay-Z & Kanye West – “New Day”
Album: Watch The Throne (2011)
“And if the day comes I only see him on the weekend
I just pray we was in love on the night that we conceived him
Promise to never leave him even if his mama tweakin’
Cause my dad left me and I promise never repeat him…”
One thing’s for damn sure, he wasn’t lying when he said the paparazzi was already on the hunt. “New Day” picks up where tracks like “Still Got Love For You” and “Where Have You Been?” left off. It’s one thing for Jay to be a father, because he wants that type of legacy outside of music. However, proving to himself he can pick up where his own father dropped the ball is something that legitimately seems to fuel him and his decade long journey towards fatherhood.
It’s almost like Jay took the words from Common’s “Retrospect For Life” and internalized them. Then again, every young man should.
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