Was Nas wrong for bringing up personal matters relating to his 17-year-old daughter in a song?
Recently Nas released “Daughters," a single from his upcoming album Life Is Good. On the track, he divulges his feelings about being a father to his 17-year-old, Destiny, and his reaction to her growing up too fast for his liking. “They grow fast, one day she's ya little princess/ Next day she talking boy business, what is this?” Nas raps. He even takes accountability for some of Destiny’s shortcomings, blaming his own absence and even the number of women he’s had in his life for her sometimes questionable behavior.
The song was widely praised by many dads as an honest, accurate perception of how they feel about their daughters. But Destiny’s mother, Carmen — she became infamous when Jay-Z dropped a line about her during his rap beef with Nas, and then she penned a book, mostly about being a hip-hop groupie — wasn’t so happy with the lyrics.
“Just heard ‘Daughters’ by Nas,” she Tweeted. “What a disappointment! He had nothing positive to say about our daughter and his depiction of her is false!”
In the song Nas suggests Destiny may have tried marijuana, recalls a time when he caught Destiny writing a letter to a guy in jail, and references an embarrassing, much-blogged incident from February when Destiny Tweeted a picture of a box of condoms. All in all, it’s nothing so terribly awful for a teenager (things can be so much worse). But as much as I appreciate Nas' honest reflections (and the fact that he’s taking on a subject matter with some depth, especially when too much of current hip-hop is just babbling over hot beats), I do wonder if a song released for mass consumption is the best place to muse on them. Apparently so does Destiny’s mom. “Do u really think Destiny appreciated that song?” she also Tweeted. “Seriously.... Destiny is still a child — it was the wrong platform.”
As an outsider perhaps not catching all the nuances that Carmen did, I don’t think “Daughters” is that bad. But perhaps I only say that because I’m not the subject of the song, or her mom. I don’t know that I would be all that on board with my father publicly addressing my issues or reviving an embarrassing incident.
In my career as a blogger, journalist and author who has written extensively about my life and the lives of my friends and family, I found out the hard way that what I think is insignificant and not embarrassing may not be perceived as such by the people I write about, even when their names and identifying details are changed. After I ticked off a friend (who stopped speaking to me for years), I learned to ask permission before I wrote about people who were close to me. Given Carmen’s reaction to the song, I’m not sure Nas took that approach when rapping about his daughter. And if he didn’t, he should have.
Do you think Nas went too far by airing his daughter’s dirty laundry?
Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life, which will be released in paperback on June 19. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk