Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Amil and Beanie Sigel, photographed on the set of the music video for the underappreciated Roc-A-Fella Records posse cut “4 Da Fam” by Lenny “KodakLens” Santiago in 2000.
In his stellar verse Hov made reference to his impending fatherhood which would be, until Beyoncé’s pregnancy and the birth of Blue Ivy, one of only two references he made on wax to having a child of his own. After referencing his four nephews, who he has said numerous times he treated like his own children, Hov declared “I’m having a child, which is more frightening.”
Since 1997 Jay had been dating actress Rosario Dawson, and some say that their three-year relationship ended soon after she suffered a miscarriage. This, from a Vibe magazine interview conducted on the set of “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)” in November 2000: “Yes, he did have a child on the way as he rapped on Amil’s ‘4 Da Fam,’ but he stops short of giving a reason why that’s no longer the case.” In April 2003, nearly three years later, he would revisit this time in his life in an interview with Playboy magazine, explaining: “The girl I was seeing about four years ago had a miscarriage. But I wasn’t sad. I didn’t even grieve. Maybe it happened because I wasn’t ready to be a dad.”
His other early reference to fatherhood was on “This Can’t Be Life,” where he talks about an unnamed girlfriend suffering a miscarriage. As the track was recorded shortly after “4 Da Fam” many assume it was a reference to the same pregnancy. However, in Decoded Jay explained that the miscarriage he was referencing took place in 1994—the year he set his “TCBL” verse. “This refers to something that happened to me around that time, 1994, when my girl of five years got pregnant and lost the baby in a miscarriage. Now, obviously, miscarriages happen everywhere, to anyone, but the point is that on top of the especially acute paranoia and disappointment and exhaustion I’m feeling from the street life, friends getting shot, your family being broke, I have to deal with the everyday tragedies that stalk everyone. And when that hits you, sometimes it becomes clear that you have to get out, that this really can’t be life, it has to be more.”
The ex-girlfriend referred to is Stephanie, who he met in Virginia when he was in the state drug running. They dated for five years from 1991-1996, with Hov living between her home in Virginia and his apartment at 560 State Street in Brooklyn. Their relationship and the stress his early rap career put on it inspired “Song Cry.”