Jay-Z’s Influence on Hip-Hop and Family

You can all stop salivating (for now). Jay-Z and Beyonce’s little bundle of joy, Blue Ivy Carter, made her debut on Saturday in New York City. After only 48 hours in the world, her birth has incited outrage after causing a couple to be unable to see their newborn twins,  and now, tears of joy and nostalgia thanks to Papa Shawn’s latest track, “Glory,” which samples her first cries.

Listen here (via Vibe.com)

Just minutes ago, the Twitter sky cracked as hip-hop fanatics, emos and thugs alike shed tattooed tears over Jay’s heartfelt tribute to little Blue. The song is probably his rawest yet, telling stories of “false starts” and a miscarriage and the seeing himself and his beautiful wife in her. Jay’s told us countless stories that have touched us, from losing his first love (“Song Cry”) to losing his nephew (“Lost Ones). He’s seen friend come and go, as well as a boatload of enemies, but he’d never had a child before.

All that aside, I thought about how Mr. Carter sets trends. Over a span of 10 years, he’s convinced us to stop drinking Cristal, stop using autotune. He made guys feel it was okay to not be “so young” anymore. Being and acting like an adult is cool, too. In fact, cooler. In no time, your ’round the way dudes were trading throwback jerseys for button downs, but never letting that Yankees fitted go. Good job, Jay! He showed us all that hip-hop is more than words over beats, but it’s a lifestyle and a business. One that proves to be lucrative if you do it right.

In his next phase, perhaps, he’ll model what a good father is. When Beyonce announced to the world that she was “with child,” millions of girls and women wanted to have a love like hers and even be pregnant. Will men do the same? Will “Glory” inspire young men to be a part of their children’s lives?

If so,  my position is two-fold.

(1) If one man can influence an entire culture to the point where men emulate him through being active in their children’s lives, that speaks volumes about the man. People do what they see, and if they only see Jay rapping about and more importantly, actively and financially taking care of his daughter, then it is what it is. Maybe he’s no different from that father, uncle or guy around the corner who’s a stand-up guy. Or President Obama.  Influence is a two-way street and there’s no way around it in life. Better that than a negative influence, right?

(2) Call me green (I’m not though), but it’s sad commentary when it takes a multi-millionaire icon to influence men to be what they should be anyway. Here’s why it happens though. Because there aren’t enough fathers or uncles or guys around the corner to look to. Actually, there are, but they’re out of reach for some folks.

So that brings up a new-old issue.  How can we make sure little boys and little girls see these role models consistently? Jay can’t do it all by himself, and I don’t think he’s trying to. It’s awesome to know that while you’re simply living your life, someone’s watching, waiting to follow in your footsteps.

Walk with humility and choose wisely where those footsteps take you. Somebody’s behind you whether you know it or not.

Congratulations to the Carters.