“Daughters,” the second single off of Nas’ upcoming album Life Is Good is an ode to fatherhood — don’t expect an ode to his daughter a la Jay-Z’s Blue Ivy tribute “Glory.” Instead, Nas mostly represents for fathers who love their little girls, even if neither of them are perfect. The lyrics describe his daughter Destiny as sort of “troubled,” and Nas takes the blame for that, repeating an old admonishment given to men when they have baby girls on the way: They say the coolest playas and foulest heart breakers in the world/God gets us back, he makes us have precious little girls. 

You’ve got to be a little bit open-minded and get past the decidedly unsafe for work opening line “ish for niggas with daughters,” but the classic Nas sound should be enough to carry you through if you’re nostalgic for it.

The fathers of little girls, or their absence, have been pointed to for every wayward woman who is sexually or socially inappropriate. Oh she’s on the pole? She must not have had a father. She’s staying with a man who beats her? If she’s had a good Daddy she’d never stand for it. Even if we don’t speak them aloud about specific women, these gross generalizations permeate our discussions about parenting and black fatherhood as the doomsday worst-case scenario of the failure to parent.

So, I find it interesting that Nas’ lyrics cover his now-18 year old’s interaction with the opposite sex not just as something he’s apprehensive about, but something he feels that his own misbehavior has influenced. He is taking a critical look at himself through the wounds that her (naturally) bumpy adolescence has inflicted on him, not on her. Could his take on fatherhood, while rather self-centered, help more men open up about their failures and triumphs as fathers?

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