Nas has a long history of speaking about his life in his music.
Nas has admitted that he most likely wasn’t the best father — to one of his two children, anyway.
The Queensbridge rap legend’s confession came on his new “Runaway” collaboration with Swizz Beatz, which arrived as part of the producer’s star-studded Hip Hop 50: Vol. 2 EP on Friday (April 21).
The emotive song, which contains a sample of Son Little’s “Your Love Will Blow Me Away When My Heart Aches,” finds Nas conceding that he didn’t do the best job at raising his daughter, Destiny Jones, who was born in June 1994, just months after Nas dropped his debut album Illmatic at the tender age of 20.
“All I imagine sometimes under sunshine or vacation, things I did in my hood, situations, oh well/ Probably was a bad father to my firstborn/ Love her to death, but I ain’t been home since my first song/ Provided for her, but money can’t replace a father for her,” he raps.
Despite his admitted shortcomings as a parent, Nas continues his verse by expressing his love and adoration for Destiny, as well as his 13-year-old son Knight Jones, whose mother is the rapper’s ex-wife Kelis.
“Plus, I got a son, blessed with kids, yeah, man, I adore them/ And I was sure I was gonna leave this life too fast/ I got guardian angles came down and saved my ass,” he spits.
“Runaway” is hardly the first time Nas has owned up to his parental failings on wax. The 49-year-old famously reflected on the challenges of being a single father — a famous one, no less — on his 2012 Life is Good song “Daughters.”
“A box of condoms on her dresser, then she Instagram’d it/ At this point I realized I ain’t the strictest parent/ I’m too loose, I’m too cool with her/ Should’ve drove more time to school with her/ I thought I dropped enough jewels on her,” he rapped on the soulful, No I.D.-produced cut.
“Daughters” earned two nominations at the 2013 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, while Life is Good — which delved deeper into Nas’ personal life, notably his divorce from Kelis — was up for Best Rap Album. (Drake’s Take Care took home the award.)
As for Knight, Nas and Kelis became embroiled in a bitter custody battle over their son following their divorce in 2010. In a 2018 interview with Hollywood Unlocked, the “Milkshake” singer accused her ex-husband of mental and physical abuse during their turbulent five-year relationship.
She also criticized Nas’ parenting skills, saying: “A parent isn’t about showing up when you feel like it. You can’t not show up for months and then show up and try to make up your own [visitation] schedule.”
The King’s Disease rapper responded in a sprawling open letter on Instagram, in which he denied Kelis’ allegations of abuse and accused her of “exploiting” the #MeToo movement, which was gaining traction at the time.
He also claimed that Kelis was “verbally abusive” to both him and his daughter, and had been physically abusive to him as recently as that year.
“I’m tired of you painting a bad picture of me,” he wrote. “I’ve been tired of it but you never seem to get tired. I even had to be in a relationship with you AGAIN after we separated just so i could see my son & I AM JUST TIRED.
“Back then you asked me why didn’t i stop the divorce from happening. I tried! We are too different. Some things aren’t meant to be. We were meant to be so that we could have our son. Nothing more.”