Nas put his devotion for his daughter Destiny in his raw, emotional song “Daughters,” and this Friday he’s also making the day for other people’s daughters in Queens, New York with the 8th Annual Bratz Doll Drive. The drive, which is being put together by Saving Our Daughters, honors Iliss Benjamin, the daughter of SOD founder Curtis Benjamin, who lost her battle to cancer.
Bratz dolls were Iliss’s favorite, and it was important to Nas that there be a drive in Queens, because it's his hometown. The recent onslaught of Hurricane Sandy made putting a drive there all the more important. Before taking part in the holiday drive, Nas spoke exclusively to MTV Act about his involvement with Saving Our Daughters, the meaning behind his song “Daughters,” and what his own daughter has taught him.
ACT: What got you involved with Saving Our Daughters’ Bratz Doll Drive?
NAS: This time of the year is when I really get anxious to help out in any way I can. This time of the year has been special to me since I was a kid, and I have a daughter. She saved my life in many ways. I think about girls all over the world who are in single parent homes, or are the ones who grow up in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in, and it’s an immense love I have.
Photo: Nas and his daughter Destiny getting all silly in a car. (Instagram)
ACT: How can others join you in getting involved with Saving Our Daughters?
NAS: People can call up Emagen Entertainment on the phone. They can call us up. That’s me. Call up Emagen Entertainment and we can start building from there, with Saving Our Daughters and everything we’re involved in.
ACT: Why is it important you’re doing this particular drive in Queens?
NAS: It’s Christmas. I’m from Queens and my first holiday experiences were of course where I grew up. Those are some of my greatest memories. Sandy makes it even more serious this time of the year. It’s already the time of the year when people become desperate. Not everyone is able to get their hands on the things they need this time of the year, and Sandy just knocked us down. But New York is strong. We get up fast, man, and we keep swinging. I want to help in any way, shape or form that I can.
ACT: Does your song "Daughters" off of Life Is Good relate to this work?
NAS: Absolutely, man. That’s another reason why this thing really resonated with me. My experience with my own daughter got me to write a song about her. Our life has been a roller coaster ride and being a parent going into that is no joke, it’s no game. When you have a daughter, you want to protect her from the things that I’ve seen out there, you know, the things that’s out there that ain’t good for her. It’s a crazy world we live in. It takes real parenting skills to really protect these kids, man. That was all put into my song “Daughters,” and this couldn’t have been a better cause right now. I’m actually trying to find more causes like this. But this is cool, this is really cool.
ACT: What do you hope your daughter gets out of your involvement with Saving Our Daughters?
NAS: She has that spirit to help people. So I hope that I represent that in her eyes, and I’m holding our tradition of showing love. I hope I’m holding that down, and I hope that she sees. I hope I can even inspire her more to do more.
ACT: What has your own daughter taught you in life?
NAS: She made me grow up, made me grow up a lot faster. I didn’t fully grow up as fast as I needed to, but she helped me grow up a lot faster than I would have on my own. She made me more responsible in lots of ways. She made me want to stay around at a time in my life where it didn’t matter. It made me care. I stayed safe and stayed around and alive.
ACT: You were really big on getting people out to vote in the last election. Now that the election is over, how can young people still be involved in the political process?
NAS: My involvement was because it’s important to young people, and people in general, to get a president they can relate to. I never stood for any president in my life, never voted, before Barack Obama. It changed my life to vote. It starts there with me. I never cared for politics before Barack Obama. I never thought it mattered to people like me. So I guess the first step is to learn more about politics. I’m sure there’s a bunch of kids out there who know more than I know already, so it’s up to them. I think the president now is the inspiration to myself and other people who never really cared before to start learning and caring about it. That’s all I can say.
Photo: Nas in patriotic mode. (Getty)