January 11, 2012

“My greatest creation was you”

Last night, I listened to “Glory (Feat. Blue Ivy Carter),” rapper Jay-Z’s tribute to the birth January 7 of his daughter.  And then I listened again.  I couldn’t get the refrain out of my head: “My greatest creation was you.”

Many musical papas have written love songs to their newborns, with ABC News’s Bill Weir noting that fatherhood is “the ultimate softening agent.”   Dads who’ve publicly crooned to their kids include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, George Strait, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Alan Sparhawk, Loudon Wainwright, and David Byrne (in no particular order).

All of these songwriters — with the exception of Jay-Z — focus on the baby as they marvel at the newly arrived.  But not “HOV” — Jehovah, God’s gift to rap — as he refers to himself.  Who is this new, sweetly wailing creature? “A younger, smarter, faster me,” Jay-Z exults.  Not even a younger, smarter, faster…Beyoncé?  The rapper acknowledges his daughter’s mother, diva Beyoncé Knowles, who burst onto the pop music scene as lead singer for the girl group Destiny’s Child: “You’re a child of destiny / You’re the child of my destiny / You’re my child with the child from Destiny’s Child / That’s a hell of a recipe.”

“Glory” shines a light on two classic parenting mistakes. Never assume that your child will be a better version of you.  Don’t think that there’s a special recipe to produce a great “creation.” Little Blue Ivy might just turn out to be tone deaf, hate music, and have two left feet.

When I think about the (initially) female progeny of power performing duos — Carrie Fischer, Jane Fonda, or Chaz Bono, say — I don’t think happy.  Narcissistic parents have trouble grasping that the “glory” of giving birth to a child comes from the “giving” part.  Maybe Beyoncé will have enough good sense and girl power to tell her husband, a man who publicly crowed that he “got the hottest chick in the game wearin’ my chain,” a man who declared himself, “not a businessman, I’m a business, man,” that in twenty years’ time, the “feat” in the “glory” of having children is in giving them some of the same freedoms we’ve given ourselves.

Or maybe he’ll listen to himself. “This is the life that I chose,” Jay-Z rapped in “december 4th,” a hit song about his own birthday from The Black Album, “rather than the life that chose me.”