Hip-hop has a long history of celebrating mothers, as you can see right here.
But fathers? That history is much more complicated.
Now, there are a plethora of songs that unload on deadbeat dads, absentee fathers and abusive men. And I’m not mad at that. Every artist should be afforded the opportunity to tell his or her story.
However, songs celebrating the joys of fatherhood do exist, and they’re powerful.
Despite what you’ve heard about the dire statistics about fatherhood in the black community, dads are very much present in our households. It’s time to kill the myth of the absentee black dad, especially when statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention confirm that 2.5 million fathers are home with their children, versus 1.7 million who aren’t.
Check out 10 songs that celebrate the joys of fatherhood, and the lessons that go along with it.
Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs, “Be a Father to Your Child”
The lesson: The name says it all. This classic ode to fatherhood challenges men to be the role models our kids needs, even if the relationship with the child’s mom is broken: “Don’t be scared, be prepared cuz love is gonna getcha/It’ll always be your child even if she ain’t witcha.”
Jay Z & Kanye West, “New Day”
The lesson: Years before Jay and Ye became parents, the duo waxed poetic about how they’d raise their future sons. Fatherhood is a state of mind, and this song was their personal pep talk before the eventual arrival of their boys.
Big KRIT, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”
The lesson: Fathers lead by example. Big KRIT uses this moving ode to honor his dad for teaching him the value of family over financial wealth. Some kids get an allowance but KRIT reaped priceless life lessons on this one.
Kanye West, “Champion”
The lesson: Dads make miracles out of impossibilities. Kanye is no stranger to celebrating his mom, but on this track, he gives dad props for always finding a way to keep him fresh: “And I don’t know what he did for dough/But he’d send me back to school with a new wardrobe.”
The Game, “Like Father Like Son”
The lesson: Being able to experience your child’s first breath is a life-changing experience. Game paint an incredible picture of the frantic moments before his first son is born, rushing through the hospital to witness the miracle firsthand.
The lesson: “They say the coolest playas and foulest heartbreakers in the world/God gets us back, he makes us have precious little girls.” Raising a child ain’t easy, and Nas admits many of his shortcomings on this one, but it’s never too late to be part of your child’s life.
Slick Rick, “It’s a Boy”
The lesson: Rick’s his usual hilarious self on this track (“it’s kinda amazing folks are born from where we pee at”), as he fantasizes about how life will shape up for his boy. Fatherhood’s tough, gotta keep a strong sense of humor.
Will Smith, “Just the Two of Us”
The lesson: For Will, fatherhood is like looking in a mirror. He celebrates his son as an extension of himself (including those unmistakable Smith ears) and as a living legacy.
Shaquille O’Neal, “Biological Didn’t Bother”
The lesson: I contend that Shaq was a way better MC than he gets credit for. Here, Shaq salutes the man who raised him, and while he wasn’t Phil’s biological son, it’s proof that fatherhood goes much deeper than bloodlines.
Royce da 5’9, “Life”
The lesson: We’re just a fly on the wall as Royce has a one-on-one convo with his son, a talk filled with encouragement and the realities of life. He keeps it realer than real on the outro: “Yo I don’t care, I don’t care if this song don’t sell one copy. That’s not even what it’s for. It’s for you, my boy.” Unconditional love.
What’s your favorite rap song dedicated to dads? Let us know below.