Top 5 of All Time: Jay-Z Fatherhood Songs
He should feel prepared to be a dad. He's been rapping about parenting for years.
3. "Moment of Clarity"
On what was intended (at the time) to be his final album (2003's The Black Album), Jay-Z comes full circle in his relationship with his father. In a "Moment of Clarity," over a brooding Eminem beat, he reflects on his feelings about attending his father's funeral shortly after they reconciled: "So Pop I forgive you/For all the s--t that I lived through/It wasn't all your fault/Homie you got caught." Here was the growth and maturity he was often accused of not possessing.
This one finds Jay-Z weaving a tale of immature teenage lust and its unfortunate consequences, which he grew up seeing quite often in his Bed-Stuy neighborhood in New York. He knows these characters well, from the young girl who gets caught up in the fast life to the young man who bucks his responsibility when his fling results in a pregnancy. The story is well-crafted and offers a twist in the chilling last line: "Six shots into his kid, out of the gun/Ni--as be a father, you killing your sons."
1. "New Day"
This is the crown jewel. His most recent full-length collaboration with Kanye, the hotly debated Watch the Throne album, found the two stuntin' and flossin' quite a bit, but in the middle of it all they took time to pen letters to their unborn children. Given the timing of this release, Jay was probably speaking to the actual fetus growing in Beyoncé's womb (and hoping for a son, apparently).
The song represents the culmination of all his thoughts on fatherhood up to this point. He starts by apologizing for the madness that the baby will undoubtedly be born into, but ends with: "Promise to never leave him even if his mama tweakin'/Cause my dad left me and I promise never repeat him/Never repeat him, never repeat him." Over a RZA beat with a Nina Simone sample in the background, it combines honest personal narrative with idealistic views of parenting that he'll soon have to live out.
Mychal Denzel Smith is a writer, social commentator and mental-health advocate. Follow him on Twitter.