Drake's a Dad - How Does He Stack Up To Other Hip Hop Fathers?

"I wasn't hiding my kid from the world I was hiding the world from my kid." Drake tells us on "Emotionless", the 4th track on his album Scorpion, which came out last Friday. And there it is. No more questions, Drake is a father. 

The rumours of Drake having a child started way back in May 2017, as first reported by TMZ. After a few murmurings, the story never truly took off until a full year later, when Pusha T made a direct allegation on his diss track "The Story Of Adidon". And so it began. The internet machine took off. Drake is a father memes popped up on your Instagram feeds, publications took off with the story and anticipation for Scorpion built even higher. The question was everywhere: is Drake really a father? 

Yes. He is. After the aforementioned bar, he references his son and fatherhood a few more times (my favourite being "I am not with the rah-rah, I am a dada" on "Mob Ties") and he no longer shies away from the fact that he has a son. As he says on "March 14th", "that shit is stoned, sealed and signed". No questions.

And while we watch one of the biggest current rappers grapple with his own version of fatherhood, it's interesting to see other fathers in hip hop and how they've embraced the new role. 

 
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“And if my children knew / 

I don't even know what I would do /

If they ain't look at me the same /

I would prob'ly die with all the shame”

- Jay Z, "4:44"

Let's take Jay Z for example. Jigga had his daughter, Blu Ivy, in 2012. At this point he had already released 11 studio albums. He was 42. His regression was somewhat expected. He had already retired. Also, he was having a child with another super famous person, someone who might be even more famous than him (for those that don't know, he's Beyoncé's husband). Fatherhood for Sean Carter wasn't incredibly shocking, it seemed like the perfect move for the perfect couple. 

Since his first album in 1996, Jay gradually evolved from rapping about being a street hustler to rapping about business ventures to rapping about fine art and luxury goods. He makes moves as a family man now, graduating from businesses like streetwear to a sports agency. He doesn't just endorse a brand like Puma, he takes over their entire basketball division. As a rapper, he has nothing left to prove. He's already painted his picture of the streets, sharing his stories and struggles on the poetic masterpiece Reasonable Doubt and quickly graduated to radio classics through the mid-late 2000's. These days, his struggles are different. They take place in boardrooms with corporate executives. So, he tells us about the lifestyle he's built for his family. His friendship with the president (former, not current). And he flexes. Hard. 

So when Jay Z dropped 4:44 last year, it was an incredible reminder that he is at his best when he's vulnerable.  Beyoncé came out with her album Lemonade in 2016, which let the world know that they weren't exactly the perfect couple. It was a powerful and direct allegation to Jay Z's behaviour during their marriage, including him committing adultery. 4:44 was his response, sharing his side of the story and apologizing in very specific and honest ways. Their relationship messiness aside, the album was a beautiful ode to partnership and family, and an amazing example of how fatherhood can not only be explored in hop hop, but celebrated. 

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"Don't do no yoga, don't do pilates / Just play piano and stick to karate / I pray your body's draped more like mine and not like your mommy's" - Violent Crimes

- Kanye West, "Violent Crimes"

 

Which is a lot different than say, Kanye West. It seems like every Instagram other photo of 'Ye is him draped with kids, wearing Yeezy's and long ass T Shirts while his daughter, North West, is furrowing her eyebrows. Dad 'Ye is one of my favourite things to happen to hip hop ever. Through so many different mediums, we see Kanye daddying it up - how he communicates with them on his wife's reality show "Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the aforementioned Instagram pics and, the best part, his incredible rap references to his kids. Here's a couple of my favs: 

"I be worried 'bout my daughter I be worried 'bout Kim / but Saint? That's baby 'Ye, I ain't worried 'bout him." - No More Parties in L.A.
"Don't do no yoga, don't do pilates / Just play piano and stick to karate / I pray your body's draped more like mine and not like your mommy's" - Violent Crimes

Kanye West is known for being unapologetic. He'll state his opinion, no matter how ridiculous or problematic it may be. And this leaks into his role as a father, too: he's unapologetically a father. He's owned the role ever since Kim was first pregnant with North, and has, by all accounts, been completely involved in his children's life ever since. He makes his music about them and definitely seems like the type of dad who would show you hundreds pictures of his kids on a two hour plane ride. 

And while fatherhood may have changed the way Kanye looks to the media, it hasn't seemed to have an impact on his art one way or the other. After releasing critically acclaimed creative projects early in his career (College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation may be the greatest three album run in hip hop history), he has still mustered up the creative energy to come out with very solid projects post fatherhood. This year, especially, where he's decided to produce five albums (and counting) for himself and artists on his album, G.O.O.D. Music. This is with being a very involved father of three children and a very busy wife.  

 
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“I'm a rich excuse for a father, you just can't tour a toddler 

She turnin' 2, she don't need diapers, she just need her papa” 

- Chance The Rapper, “First World Problems”

But it's not just the older rappers who are embracing fatherhood. Chance The Rapper, who is only 25, became a father to a daughter a few years ago - right when his career was about to take off from the highly acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. This motivated Chance to begin a serious relationship with his baby mama, who was his ex-girlfriend, and be a super involved father. Chance takes to social media, where he posts adorable Instagram stories every few days or so of his daughter doing really cute basic kid shit. It's the only kind of things a ridiculously proud, super lame dad could capture. 

His daughter was a major inspiration for Colouring Book, his 2016 mixtape (by pure semantics Chance has yet to release an actual album, only mixtapes). While Acid Rap was a drug-induced razor-sharp pleasure trip, Coloring Book is a lot more grounded. Mature beyond the voice of someone in their early 20's, he let's the world know on the opening track "All We Got" that his daughter couldn't have a better mother and gets trap legend Future to join him in a song dedicated to their baby mama's needing a break on "Smoke Break".

With Chance, there's no separation between fatherhood and rap music. To him, they're one in the same. He is a father and an artist. There isn't a whole lot of room for ego flexing or degrading women in his music. It's the same dad we see blowing bubbles with his toddler daughter on Instagram, he just happens to be a credibly talented rapper and writer. 

Which, yes, brings us back to Drake. On Scorpion, the shifts from referencing fatherhood to tough guy ego flexing are jarring. It makes the vulnerability feel forced and the punchlines feel weightless. It makes it seem that he's referencing his son because the public thinks he has to. Unlike someone like Chance, showing off his daughter in the way only a proud father can: "you have to see this video of my baby singing!" 

We likely won't ever get Drakes version of 4:44, or see adorable pictures of his kid hanging off of him on Instagram, but the next little while will be interesting to see how he transitions into (or away from) fatherhood.

There's only so long he can choose to "hide the world from his kid" before it becomes obvious that he's really the one that's hiding. 

 

Life, dadBryce SetoComment