A theme in both The Sopranos and Road to Perdition is the double life that gangsters are forced to lead, especially the ones that attempt to be good fathers. The lead characters commit any number of sins that put their mortal souls in jeopardy, supposedly so their families can lead comfortable lives. They also indulge in the worldly pleasures that their underworld status affords them. They hide that side of their lives from their children, going to great pains to ensure that the sins of the father are not visited upon the heads of the sons and/or daughters. On one hand, it’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. On the other, it’s totally understandable. Those who provide for their own by morally questionable means don’t want their kids to follow in their footsteps. Though it has nothing to do with gangsterism, the video for Nas latest single “Daughters” wreaks of reeks of a similar brand of guilt.
Director Chris Robinson uses POV shots to illustrate how Destiny sees both her dad and the world around her as she grows from a toddler to a woman. Some moments are heartwarming, as when she takes her first steps or celebrates her third birthday. Other moments hint at her confusion when comparing the fictional character of Nas Escobar to that of her father, Nasir Jones. As she scribbles in her coloring book, Nas Escobar nurses a drink while spitting verses in a vocal booth. He’s clearly in character, but of course Destiny can’t understand that. A brief montage shows a teenaged Destiny making a ton of bad decisions while hanging with the wrong crowd. It reveals the fear and powerlessness that Nas, and by extension all parents, feel when seeing their kids go astray.
Instead of seeming sappy and maudlin, the video for “Daughters” comes across as refreshingly honest. Mr. Jones hasn’t exactly been father of the year, and he acknowledges that. This is one time where his complexities seem strikingly human as opposed to contradictory or phony. Despite his flaws, Nas is indeed growing as both a man and an artist. His evolution on both fronts is compelling to behold.