Jay has been rapping about becoming a dad since his debut album — MTV News examines some key lyrics. By Rob Markman
Jay-Z in the recording studioPhoto: Life + Times
Jay-Z is finally a father. After welcoming a baby girl with wife Beyoncé over the weekend in New York City, the Brooklyn MC dropped "Glory," a track honoring his firstborn on Monday (January 9). But for those who've listened closely to his catalog, it's a moment he's pondered lyrically for much of his career, starting with his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt.
But the Doubt track is a far cry from last year's Watch the Throne track with Kanye West, where Jay so lovingly mapped out his daddy blueprint. In fact, on Hov's first LP, he seemed to think having a kid was a liability for a hustler. Now that the arrival of Blue Ivy Carter has truly made Jigga a big poppa, MTV News takes a close look at Jay-Z's key fatherhood-inspired lyrics.
"D'Evils" (1996)Key lyric: Thinkin' back to when we first learned to use rubbers/ He never learned, so in turn I'm kidnapping his baby's mother.
On the second verse of "D' Evils," a sinister Jigga kidnaps the mother of a former friend's baby and then ridicules the poor sap for never learning to use "rubbers." In his 2010 book "Decoded," Jay explained that the fact that his ex-friend never used contraception "sets him up as someone sloppier, less calculating and cunning than me." It may sound negative now, but the lyric is indicative of what Jay represented at the time.
"Lucky Me" (1997)Key lyric: I hate all girls with ulterior motives/ That's why I'm 20-plus years old, no sons, no daughters.
On his second album, 1997's In My Lifetime Vol. 1, Shawn Carter emerges as a father figure of sorts with the sarcastically titled "Lucky Me." He raps about praying that none of his nephews want to be stars. Furthermore, Hova reveals that his distrust of women has kept him from even considering fatherhood. Choosing the right mother was a factor: "Don't plan to leave without a fight or plant a seed, I'd give life/ Though I can't see past a girl's greed to call her wife," he raps. Luckily he waited for eventual wife Beyoncé, and we couldn't think of a better match!
"Anything" (2000)Key lyric: Dear nephews, I'm writing this with no pen or a pad/ And I'm signing it, ya uncle, ya best friend and ya dad.
Jay-Z's has consistently rapped about his love for his nephews, and in 2000, Jay took his sister's kids (and godchildren) under his platinum wing in song. On "Anything," Hov makes a loving pledge to be there for all of the kids in his life, though they weren't technically his own.
Amil's "4 da Fam" (2000) Key lyric: I got four nephews and they're all writing ... and I'm having a child, which is more frightening.
It seems that Jay has always yearned to be a dad. While he has remained tight-lipped about his private life in interviews, he has on a few occasions rhymed that he was expecting. The child that Hov was anticipating on "4 da Fam" was most likely lost through miscarriage, though no official word was ever given. Whatever the case, it was clear that Jigga was softening the position he took on Reasonable Doubt.
"This Can't be Life" (2000)Key lyric: It gets worse, baby momma water burst/ Baby came out stillborn, still I gotta move on.
Many fans assumed that on the Kanye West-produced "This Can't be Life," Jay was rapping about the same child he referenced on Amil's "4 da Fam" just months earlier. Not the case. In "Decoded," Jay clarifies that on the heart-wrenching cut from his Roc La Familia album he was painting a picture from 1994. "My girl of five years got pregnant and lost the baby in a miscarriage," he wrote. Though tragic, the circumstances surrounding those lines show that the concept of fatherhood wasn't new to Hov.
"Where Have You Been" (2000)Key lyric: I would say, "My daddy loves me and he'll never go away"/ Bullsh--, do you even remember December's my birthday?
Referencing his own absentee father, Hov vows to turn a negative into a positive on "New Day" when he spits, "Promise to never leave him, even if his mama tweakin'/ 'Cause my dad left me and I promised never repeat him." Jay did forgive his dad before he died, a fact he detailed in rhyme on "Moment of Clarity" from 2003's The Black Album, but the origin of his pain was famously laid out on the gut-wrenching "Where Have You Been."
"Lost One" (2006)Key lyric: Can't wait for your child's life to be a part of it/ So now I'm child-like, waiting for a gift.
Jay-Z's love for his nieces, nephews and godchildren was never a secret, and when his sister's son Colleek Lukie died tragically in a car accident in 2005, Hov was hit particularly hard. Lukie was driving the Chrysler that Uncle Jay had given him as a graduation present. Making matters worse was that Luckie and his girlfriend were expecting a child of their own at the time of his death. Jay found solace, he raps, by awaiting the blessed event.
"Hello Brooklyn 2.0" (2007)Key lyric: Hello, Brooklyn, if we had a daughter/ Guess what I'mma call her? Brooklyn Carter.
Every artist deserves creative freedom, but it seems B might not have been onboard for Jay's initial baby name pick, as they went with Blue over Brooklyn.
The Throne's "New Day" (2011)Key lyric: Sorry, Junior, i already ruined ya/ 'Cause you ain't even alive, paparazzi pursuin' ya.
It's true. From the moment B rubbed her belly in the paparazzi pit on the black carpet of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, it was on! Granted, the media frenzy surrounding the couple's first child creates an uncomfortable situation for the new parents, but from a fan's perspective, longtime listeners now get to watch their two favorite artists take a new step in life — and live vicariously through that. Since Reasonable Doubt we have seen Jay-Z grow from a young hustler to a mature mogul. His evolution is one of music's greatest stories and while Hov remains private (and understandably so), through his music we have seen snap shots of his hopes, desires and dreams.
"Glory" (2012) Key lyric: The most amazing feeling I feel/ Words can't describe the feeling, for real/ Baby, I'll paint the sky blue/ My greatest creation was you.
What better way to celebrate life than through song? Days after baby Blue came into the world, Jay recorded his most personal thoughts, releasing "Glory" on his Life and Times site. Hov really opens up on the Pharrell-produced track, and then tops things off by adding the crying and cooing bundle of joy to the track, effectively giving baby girl her very first feature. "You're my child with the child from Destiny's Child/ That's a hell of a recipe," Hov lovingly spits.
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