"Life is good." That's according to rapper Nas and it also happens to be the name of his new album. He's celebrating fatherhood and reflecting on it with his latest single, "Daughters."
Nas talks with Soledad this morning on "Starting Point" and explains the challenges of raising a young girl.
See the transcript of the interview after the jump.
O'BRIEN: So that song is all about the struggles and some of the frustrations and some of the failures of - of raising a girl.
O'BRIEN: Why do you want to write about that? It's a different topic for you in some ways.
NAS: Yes. It's a different thing for me. Like having a teenage daughter is different for me. It's like I'm - I've got to be a parent. And because of - of the relationship I had with my daughter's mother and being in this business, it kind of took me away from her and took me away from being that parent that was there all the time. So –
O'BRIEN: Do you think you were a bad parent? Or do you think you just weren't as good as you could have been?
NAS: You know, I ask her that from time to time. She says I was great. She says I was cool. So, yes, I did my best. But it wasn't good enough for me. So that's why I did this record.
O'BRIEN: You have another chance. You've got a son who is only about to be three. NAS: Yes.
O'BRIEN: Do you think differently about how you'll raise him as a father? Or is it just different, boys and girls?
NAS: It's different. It's just different, you know. He's really too young for me to really know - he's starting to talk a lot now. So we are starting to build this cool relationship. And I want to be better now this time around.
MARTIN: Having a daughter, and then when you see certain things on television, you hear certain songs, has it changed your view of even music, even within the industry, because you're saying, wait a minute. I'm hearing folks talk about women in a certain way, and I have a daughter.
NAS: Myself included. You know, my language about, you know, women, things, life, was a little crazy. So you know, for a minute, when my daughter was born, I thought I couldn't write anymore because here she's going to hear this stuff from her dad.
So I started to make records that would be - that I thought she could listen to. I'd make one record - I had a record called "I Know I Can" years ago, and that was - that was pretty cool. And she liked it. And that was my way of trying to give back, you know.
CAIN: When was the shift? What was the flip that was switched? I know your daughter Instagrammed the picture. Was this the moment? Tell us about that?
O'BRIEN: It's in the video too.
NAS: Yes it's crazy man. Like - you know her - her own Twitter was like, you know, I would hear that she's tweeting a lot of things. And I saw what she was tweeting. And it was just - I'm like that's not my kid right there. Like she is putting on this kind of thing for the world, like she's almost a rapper in her tweets. You know and it's like an act to me, you know what I mean?
NAS: So it just wouldn't stop. And it wouldn't stop. And it just started to, you know, catching on to other blog - people were blogging about it and the stuff. So this was my - this song also was a way for me to like teach her and kind of - kind of embarrass her at the same time, beating myself up for not doing certain things that I think I should have did. So –
MARTIN: But you got a little embarrassed when your editor put the wrong birth date.
NAS: That was - that was crazy.
O'BRIEN: That's how the video starts. And it was your birthday and it's not your daughter's birthday. She's in the video, though.
NAS: She's in the video at the end, yes, yes.
O'BRIEN: So as a parent, do you - I mean, I have the lyrics here, if I were going to like read this to my kid, I'd be like expletive, expletive, expletive, "n" word, "n" word, expletive, expletive. Do you go through - I mean, is this going to change, or - or do you think about changing how you - you write the lyrics? I mean, why the "n" word all the time?
NAS: It's just - its street corner language. It's just - as I get older, I've got to be honest with you, as I get older the need for me to use it in my - in my music is - is not so much as it - as it used to be. But it's like young language, young street corner language, that winds up on the radio. And it speaks to a lot of young people in their language.
O'BRIEN: So this is the way to be authentic with the people who are listening to you?
NAS: Yes. You've got to be authentic.
O'BRIEN: But if someone said to your daughter the "n" word, right? You would go and kill that person, I would bet, no?
O'BRIEN: No, really.
MARTIN: But if you're a cousin of mine.
NAS: Oh if someone called her in like –
NAS: - in a mean, racial way, oh, yes. Yes, I mean, that's different.
O'BRIEN: All right. Now it's nice to see you. We are out of time.
NAS: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: It's great to have you as always.
NAS: Can I say happy birthday to my daughter who will be 18 on Friday?
O'BRIEN: Of course you can. Go ahead.
NAS: Happy birthday, Destiny. Thank you for having me.