Jay-Z: A Tale of Two Dads
January 13, 2012
by Shawn Bean
The $1.3 million paid to take over an entire wing of Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City, plus another $200,000 for extra security. The $20,000 crib (a perfect item for MTV’s new show, MTV Cribs: Cribs). The customized Mercedes van for Beyonce that was improved, retrofitted and upgraded to the tune of $1 million.
It is through the lens of these maybe-true-maybe-not tabloid morsels that I listen to “Glory,” Jay-Z’s ode to his newborn daughter Blue Ivy Carter, released the day of her birth. I listen with skepticism. I mean, here’s an infant with a hit single: B.I.C. (as she’s credited on the song) just became the youngest artist ever to appear on the Billboard charts. Yesterday, “Glory” debuted at No. 74 on the R&B/hip-hop hit list.
But I quickly found myself listening through the lens of fatherhood. As a result, snippets of certain lines began to stand out like images in a stereogram. This led to a full on deep-dive into the lyrics.
The portrait Jay-Z paints of fatherhood and family life is at times impossible to relate to...
You’re the child from the child of Destiny’s Child.
Most dads (by that I mean, all but one) can't identify with this. I sorta can. Before having children, my wife Brandy was a dancer for the Dallas Mavericks. Let me see if I can make that cool: “My wife got a belly like a basketball/Used to dance for the basketball/It paid for shoes at the shopping mall.”
You was made in Paris/And mama woke up the next day and shot her album package.
Tanner was made in my mother-in-law’s spare bedroom. His mama woke up the next day and went to the gym. (I think it was bi’s and tri’s that day.)
Bad ass lil’ Hov/Two years old, shopping on Savile Row.
Sorry, Jay. Did you mean to say Ross Dress for Less?
But there are also lyrics in “Glory” that are quite familiar.
Hard not to spoil you rotten lookin’ like me.
We're with you, H to the Izzo, V to the Izzay. There is no greater ego stroke than making someone that resembles you. When you meet someone who likes the same music or has a similar political viewpoint, you connect with them a little bit more. When you meet someone with your nose and eyes, you give them the upstairs bedroom, spoon-feed them, and wipe their butts.
False alarms, false starts, all made better by the sound of your heart/All the pain of the last time, prayed so hard it was the last time.
Six years ago, I pulled into the parking garage where I worked, and cried. The night before, we lost Jackson’s future sibling. Studies show that 10 to 25 percent of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. And it's a brutal equalizer: No amount of privilege or access can save someone from it. In that moment, she’s not Sasha Fierce, and he’s not Hova. She’s Beyonce Knowles from Houston, and he’s Shawn Carter from Brooklyn. And like Jay-Z says, there was no greater joy than Tanner’s first ultrasound.
In the end, the song proves what we already know: There are different sides to every father. We are overprotective and we are oblivious. We curse and we coo. We are Saturday night scoundrels and we are Sunday morning guests at dollhouse tea parties. We are successes and we are failures. For me and Jay-Z, we are Daddy and we are Shawn.