The hip-hop community too often neglects and mistreats its woman; The relationship between the gender and the genre is one of a complex history and understanding. So, when tracks like “Black Girl Lost” or “Brown Skin Lady” come out and address women in a respectful manner, they’re always a diamond in the rough. Nas recently released a single from his upcoming album, Life Is Good, called “Daughters” where he delivers two and a half verses on the difficult relationship between him and his daughter, Destiny.
The soulful and earthy production is brought to us by none other than Chicago’s No I.D., but it’s the lyrics that make the song come alive. Controversy has boiled because of how Carmen Bryan (Nas’ daughter’s mother) reacted to the song on the Twittersphere. And Bryan does raise a valid point. “He had nothing positive to say about our daughter” and “Destiny is still a child … it was the wrong platform.” Bryan mentioned that Destiny was also not pleased with the track.
This is a case of “unattractive honesty.” There comes a point where hip-hop surpasses entertainment and happy endings (or gruesome ones, whichever entertains you more). And this point is exactly where “Daughters” lies. Both artists and listeners alike argue that hip-hop is an escape into an alternate body where the music is “just a story” or “just how the artist feels at the moment” — the go-to excuse for a songs vulgarity or obscenity. When all that withers away and you’ve run out of imaginative or ignorant concepts to explore, songs like “Daughters” leave you with the honesty and reality of life behind hip-hop’s facades.
Nas’ “Daughters” is an illustration of what it means to be brutally honest with oneself. There are no sugarcoated lyrics or half-ass alibis in discussing his relationship with daughter. As a journalist, objectivity and honesty are the keys to staying true to any issue and it is for this reason that we should applaud “Daughters,” though its honesty may be “unattractive.”
In the first verse, Nas admits his mistakes as a father when he says that he failed to protect her from this “awful phase” where his daughter writes a letter to a boy her age who’s locked up. He mentions how he never tried to hide who he was and though she was raised like a princess, he still has more to teach her. He knows that his history, (“plus she see me switching women – pops was on some pimp shit”) might have influenced her in the wrong way.
Nas pours his heart out when he forewarns his daughter that her lover might not be interested in her, but how he might be drawn to the size of her mother’s home or her father’s status (“He seen your mama crib/Plus I’m sure he know who your father is”). Perhaps this is an ideology that us non-wealthy folks will not understand, but when a girl goes out, we first expect her suitor to be after the physical rather than their parents’ riches or fame.
At the end of the first verse, Nas ends with “she look at me like I’m not the cleanest father figure/ but she rockin’ with it,” a couplet that somewhat cushions the blow of Nas’ intentions with the track. He knows that he’s not the most ideal candidate for the father position, but at least he has a daughter that is willing to accept that and work with him in the process. It’s a complex relationship between father and daughter, but truthfully, most father-daughter relationships are. This one just happens to be expressed by a world famous rapper.
The last semi-verse begins with, “Now, I ain’t tryna mess your thing up/ but I just wanna see you dream up/I finally understand it ain’t easy to raise a girl as a single man…” It seems that he knows that some of the lyrics is the previous verses might have cut deep, but he justifies it with his intention of wanting her to dream big. He doesn’t want to interfere too much in her life, but at the same time it is his job.
“When she date, we wait behind the door with a sawed-off/‘cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters,” is how the song ends, in seemingly-PSA-like fashion. Nonetheless, it gets the point across. Though it was somewhat clouded by controversy, we’re very fortunate to see that there was an effort to celebrate and share the complexities of raising a daughter in the hip-hop community.
Though this song might not be as effective as “Black Girl Lost” or “I Can,” it still has as much purpose. It’s too specific of a track to become an anthem, but it’s certainly a record that could wake up some sleeping fathers and help enlighten some mischievous daughters.
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