I recently wrote that I like the name Blue Ivy, given to the new daughter Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcomed to the world on Jan. 7, but I was so focused on baby names that larger issues were ignored. And since I am taking the reins as this blog’s Jay-Z beat reporter, let me add that the unique moniker is about the only thing I like about the entire episode.
I first was turned off by reports that the power duo spent $1.3 million to rent a luxury suite at the Lenox Hill Hospital for the birth, allegedly inconveniencing other families giving birth at the same time. Eventually I made an executive decision to stop thinking about this because it was just celebrity gossip and I have more important things to worry about. (NFL playoffs, the Superbowl, etc.)
Then, a juicier nugget cropped up that fascinated me – Jay-Z allegedly wrote a poem to his daughter and vowed to stop using the word “bitch.” In particular, the poem said:
"Before I got in the game, made a change, and got rich
I didn’t think hard about using the word bitch
I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it
Now with my daughter in this world I curse those that give it."
Bob Trott and daughter NJ
Nice, right? This, I thought, is a positive step, Jay-Z. Nice going, man! My perspective changed when I had a daughter, too – everything seems more … what? Precious? Vital? Serious? Real? All of the above. It’s a cliché to say that having a child makes you see the world differently, but hey – it’s a cliché for a reason.
My next thought was: Really, Jay-Z? You’re 42 years old, been around women all your life, have a mother and a wife and have known and worked with countless women, and only now, with a daughter in your arms, do you decide it’s time to start respecting them? Still: Better late than never.
Except that it is, apparently, never after all – the poem was written by blogger Renee Gardner and was attributed to the rapper. Jay-Z does not, in fact, have plans to de-bitchify his vocabulary and song lyrics. The “bitch” epiphany didn’t happen.
Which is too bad. It would have been a nice new-dad gesture.
But how could he, really? He’d have to rewrite almost half his tracks. New York magazine ran the numbers, and it turns out he’s said “bitch” an average of 1.2 times per song. That’s amazing!
Now, I’m not against bad language per se – just ask my mother, who still cringes whenever I say “butt” or “crap” – although of course I do what I can to keep them from my 2-year-old’s ears. And popular music has had more than its share of raunch and sex ever since Elvis Presley first figured out that he could move a little bit while he sang instead of standing still. For crying out loud, my favorite band is the Rolling Stones, and Mick and Keith have had plenty of off-color things to say about women over the years. But not 1.2 times per song.
It’s certainly not Jay-Z’s fault that this poem hit the Web and was attributed to him, and obviously he can say whatever he wants in whatever language he wants. I just hope that at some point, he tells Blue Ivy that “bitch” isn’t just another word for “woman.” Sure, Beyoncé could tell her that, but it really should come from him.
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