Every Jay Z Lyric That Mentions Fatherhood

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In early February 2017, Beyonce took to Instagram to announce her and husband Jay Z were expecting twins. The announcement came just over 5 years after the birth of their first child, Blue Ivy Carter. Jay addressed the pregnancy on DJ Khaled's new single "Shining", which also heavily featured Beyonce.

By no means is this the first time Jay has addressed fatherhood on wax. His references stretch as far back as 1994, two years before his debut record. Over the past 23 years, his views on parenthood have changed dramatically, from dismissal and mockery, rejection and disgust, to heartbreak, trepidation and guilt, all the way to euphoria and an absolute embrace of his role as a father.

1994-1999
  • You diggin' me the epitome of rippin' it raw / You kiddin' me no nigga that rap gettin' bigger than me - "I Can't Get Wid Dat" (1994)
  • Thinking back to when we first learned to use rubbers / He never learned so in turn I'm kidnapping his baby's mother - "D'Evils" (1996)
  • I hate all girls with ulterior motives / That's why I'm 20-plus years old / No sons, no daughters - "Lucky Me" (1997)
  • I'm kinda hoping the condom break / To have a reason to go raw -  "Who You Wit II" (1997)
  • Drop a seed in her, little life to breathe in her / Wanna boy so to be sure, I OD'd in her / His days are laced in Caesar Leguars / All the chicks jealous at the baby showers / Beatch! - "Funkmaster Flex Freestyle 1" (1997) 
  • Got a condo with nothing but condoms in it / Same place where the rhymes invented - "Nigga What, Nigga Who" (1998)
  • She keep beggin' me to hit it raw / So she can have my kids and say it was yours / How foul is she? And you wifed her / Shit, I put the rubber on tighter - "Is That Yo Bitch?" (1999)
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Jay's early references to fatherhood are attempts at humour, witty wordplay, and outright dismissal. He speaks about condoms often, justifying their use on 1997's "Lucky Me", where he implies he doesn't trust women. On "D'Evils" he sees fatherhood as a sign of weakness, writing in his autobiography Decoded: "...we learned basic sex ed at the same time; that he never learned, which sets him up as someone sloppier, less calculating and cunning than me; that he had a child as a result, and a 'baby's mother'; and that I kidnapped her, which shows how profoundly blackhearted I had become". This "blackhearted" persona carries into 1999, where he openly mocks a rival and acts alarmed that a woman would want to have children with him. He appears to embrace fatherhood on "Funkmaster Flex Freestyle 1", but it's just as likely he's using the pregnancy to stunt hard (showering his unborn son with gifts), making other women jealous as a result. 

In an interview from 1998, he says: "Women I was with, I loved things about them, but I never been in love, they say love is forever and I never felt that forever type of thing." He goes on to say he wouldn't allow himself to fall in love, but is "on [his] way to recovery, maybe soon." 

1999-2001
  • Dear Nephews, I'm writing this with no pen or a pad / And I'm signing it, ya uncle, ya best friend and your dad - "Anything" (1999)
  • If it comes a time when you ain't feelin' your real dad / Put my face on his body / Don't wait for nobody - "Anything" (1999)
  • No kids but trust me I know how to raise a gun - "Come And Get Me" (1999)
  • S dot Carter turn rappers into martyrs / Separate fathers from their daughters, why bother - "Come And Get Me" (1999)
  • I got four nephews, and they all writing / They all young and wild, plus they like things / And I'm having a child, which is more frightening - Amil Ft. Jay-Z "For Da Fam" (2000)
  • Everybody stressing, who's his baby moms? / Who he got pregnant, let me tell you, ahh - "Streets Is Talking" (2000)
  • Don't wanna fight, don't wanna fuss / You're the mother of my baby - "Soon You'll Understand" (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 - "This Can't Be Life" (2000)
  • Need a chick that practice Tai Chi / That still can buy weed / And give me some good head / And I'll make her a mami - "Hey Papi" (2000)
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Jay's rapid maturation during this period can likely be traced to the miscarriage suffered by a still-unknown partner around the year 2000. On "4 Da Fam", he reveals more about his personal life in 3 bars than he had the entirety of his career thus far. He's no longer the blackhearted figure, viewing pregnancy as sloppy or something that can be exploited.
It was also around this time Jay began to focus on nurturing young talent, notably a gang of artists he picked up from Philadelphia. He'd already taken Bleek, Beans, and Amil under his wing, along with Christion and Rell. During "Anything" he offers his fatherly services to anyone in his family needing guidance, but maybe this was as far as he was willing to go. In 2003 he told Playboy he probably wasn't ready to be a father in 2000.  

2002-2005:
  • But one thing y'all can say about Jay / It's not a day I ever bought it / Y'all can audit my life / I put that on my unborn daughter's lifeJaz-O feat. Jay-Z "Let's Go" (2002)
  • Love let's go half on a son - "Excuse Me Miss" (2002)
  • Then I move the weight like I'm Oprah, son / Uhh, I show you how to do this son - "La-La-La (Excuse Me Miss Again" (2003)
  • I son niggas like I adopted you - "Roc Star Freestyle" (2003)
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In four short years, Jay went from openly rejecting the idea of being a father, to rapping like it's a given he will one day have a child. During this period he was courting Beyonce, and they appeared to be official in 2002 with the collaboration "03' Bonnie and Clyde". Maybe he slipped a few references in to prove he was ready to take the next step one day in the distant future?

The "Roc Star Freestyle" was classic old--school posturing and braggadocio. His reference on "La-La-La (Excuse Me Miss Again)" may not have even been about fatherhood, he may just be addressing someone his junior.

2006 - 2011
  • 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 tomorrow's against my yesterday's / In hopes that she'll be okay / And when I'm no longer there to shade her face from the glare / I'll give her my share of Carol's Daughter / And a new beach chair - "Beach Chair" (2006)

  • My last will and testament I leave my heir / My share of Roc-A-Fella Records and a shiny new beach chair "Beach Chair" (2006)
  • Your girlfriend's pregnant, the Lord's gift / Almost lost my faith, that restored it / It's like havin' your life restarted / Can't wait for your child's life, to be a part of it / So now I'm child-like, waitin' for a gift / To return, when I lost you, I lost it - "Lost One" (2006)
  • Hello, Brooklyn, if we had a daughter / Guess what I'mma call her? Brooklyn Carter - "Hello Brooklyn 2.0" (2007)
  • Not rid the show and the kids is growing / Baby need new shoes, and you sitting on 22's - "BK Anthem" (2008)
  • Sorry junior, I already ruined ya / Cause you ain’t even alive, paparazzi pursuin’ ya / Sins of a father make your life ten times harder / I just wanna take ya to a barber / Bondin’ on charters, all the shit that I never did / Teach ya good values so you cherish it - "New Day" (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 never to leave him even if his mama tweakin' / Cause my dad left me and I promise never repeat him - "New Day" (2011)
  • Let's tie the knot, let's grab us a pot, let's make a baby - Young Jeezy Ft. Jay-Z and Andre 3000 "I Do" (2011)
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"Lost One" might be explained by a brief separation the pair allegedly endured during 2006. Even then, Jay placed "Beach Chair" on his 2006 album Kingdom Come, which goes a step beyond merely accepting fatherhood. He's being pragmatic in guarding his unborn child against any bad karma he may have accrued earlier in his life. This isn't just accepting fatherhood as an inevitability, it's a wholehearted embrace of both the positive and the negatives. He digs even deeper into his own fears on 2011's "New Day" with Kanye, revealing a deep desire not to follow in the footsteps of his own father, who left Jay and his family when Jay was just 11 years old. When that song was released, Beyonce was pregnant, and they had been married for 3 years. Jay was ready to embrace and revel in family life. 

2012 - 2017*
  • The most amazing feeling I feel / Words can’t describe what I’m feeling for real /  Baby, I paint the sky blue / My greatest creation was you / You, you, glory - "Glory" (2012)
  • A younger, smarter, faster me / So a pinch of Hov, a whole glass of B - "Glory" (2012)
  • Bad ass little Hov, two years old shopping on Saville Row / Wicked ass little Bey / Hard not to spoil you rotten looking like little me / The most beautiful-est thing in this world / Is daddy's little girl - "Glory" (2012)
  • But you was made in Paris / And mama woke up the next day and shot her album package / Last time the miscarriage was so tragic / We was afraid you disappeared / But nah, baby you magic - "Glory" (2012)
  • Niggas couldn't fuck with my daughter's room / Niggas couldn't walk in my daughters socks - "3 Kings" (2012)
  • I love this shit like my own daughter / Let's spray these niggas, baby, just like daddy taught ya - "3 Kings" (2012)
  • Blue told me remind you niggas / Fuck that shit you talking bout, I'm that nigga - "Holy Grail" (2013)
  • Baby need pampers / Daddy need at least three weeks in the Hamptons - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • My baby getting chubby / Cue that Stevie Wonder music, aww, ain't she lovely? - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Fuck joint custody / I need a joint right now just the thought along fucks with me - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Apologies in order, to Blue Ivy my daughter / If it was up to me you would be with me, sort of like daddy dearest - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Father never taught me how to be a father, treat a mother / I don't wanna have to just repeat another leave another / baby with no daddy want no momma drama / I just wanna take her back to a time when everything was calmer - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Nothing could prepare us / For the beauty that you be Blue be / Looking in your eyes is like a mirror, have to face my fears - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Now I got my own daughter, taught her how to take her first steps / Cut the cord watch her take her first breath / And I'm trying and I'm lying if I said I wasn't scared - "Jay Z Blue" (2013)
  • Go ahead lean on that shit Blue you own it - "Picasso Baby" (2013)
  • My baby momma harder than a lot of you niggas - "Part II (On The Run)" (2013)
  • Can't see it taking food out my lil monster's mouth - "Nickels and Dimes" (2013)
  • Can't even raise my little daughter, my little Carter / We call her Blue cause it's sad that / How can I be a dad that, I never had that / Shattered in a million pieces, where the glass at - "spiritual" (2016)
  • Until our babies showered in gold, nigga / Blue lookin' like Pac in the tub - Fat Joe and Remy Ma feat. Jay Z "All The Way Up (Remix)" (2016)
  • My baby Blue (What else?) / I dream in color - "I Got The Keys" (2016)
  • One ain't enough I need two / That night I mix the Ace with the D'US / Hit a triple double at the Garden - "Shining" (2017)
  • The European trucks for the twin babies / Don't let me have a son I'm a fool / Send him to school with all my jewels / I want a boy and girl to fight for truth / Whatever God give me I'm cool - "Shining" (2017)
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In November 2016, Jay was the talk of the internet when pictures emerged of him playing the traditional role of a father. Some commentators clowned him for relinquishing his street persona and his "Big Pimpin'" lifestyle, morphing into what Jay called in 2011 "a regular American boy". The disbelief that Shawn Carter could become the quintessential family man is merely a testament to the astonishing growth he's displayed throughout his career. 2013's Magna Carta, Holy Grail may not have been as well received as his records that dealt with the streets, but it was the first example of a 40+ year old rapper addressing fatherhood and family life for an entire project, and doing so successfully. Although Nas had released the track "Daughters" on Life Is Good in 2012, that album oscillated between his early life and his current circumstances. MCHG may not bear the Blueprint name, but it adheres to the goal of that series, to provide a map for mainstream artists to transition from the streets to the family life without losing their hunger or venom. It only further solidified Jay Z as a pioneer an trailblazer, and you'd be hard pressed to find another artist, regardless of genre, who has undergone such a dramatic and successful transformation. 

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Thanks immediately goes out to AintNoJigga, who helped immensely not only in the creation of this article, but in expanding my Hov knowledge infinitely over the past 2 years. Connect with him via Twitter.

*(Note: "Glory" and "Jay Z Blue" are entire songs devoted to Blue Ivy, Jay's first daughter. Only snippets of the lyrics are included)

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