Let me be the first to say it. I can be an extremist. So I have no problem admitting that I’m a self-proclaimed hater. I hate commercial rap, especially the kind that glorifies negativity, because I know how much it influences young impressionable listeners. In my travels, I meet many parents, most of them Hip Hop heads, who feel like they’ve lost their children to the mind-numbing sounds of 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, YG and too many other clowns to name here. Do I believe that every child who listens to these rappers will turn into a molly-popping, weed-smoking, wannabe pimp, thug? Of course not. But having one foot in the music industry and another in the classroom gives me a unique perspective that very few possess. I can guarantee you that the impact some of these rappers have on our kids is frighteningly real. Spend one day in a classroom with me and you’ll see what I mean.
Extreme situations call for extreme measures. So how can you teach your child to appreciate the type of rap which won’t brainwash them into thinking that sex, drugs, violence and partying is what life is all about? Here are 6 ways to indoctrinate…I mean teach your child to appreciate real rap. But here’s a quick heads up: don’t email me or leave me comments about my usage of the phrase “real rap”. In light of the context, my intent should be obvious and any attempts to convince me that my definition of real rap is narrow-minded will be ignored. I’m all about the children, son!
Here we go.
1. Make sure the first rap song they ever hear is a classic Hip Hop joint. If you can’t play rap in the hospital the moment your child is being delivered (some doctors frown upon that for some strange reason) make sure your child’s first ride home as a newborn includes some Rakim, Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Ultramagnetic MC’s or Public Enemy. They’ll need those beats and lyrics to set the brain into Hip Hop mode.
2. Talk trash about every wack rapper you see or hear. This works for both babies and teenagers. While in the beginning, your infant will be too young to understand, their developing brain will eventually program itself to reject anything that sounds weak and unoriginal. For older kids, depending on how much commercial rap they’ve already been tainted by, the level of trash-talking required to undo any permanent damage may be minimal to extreme. For mild cases, a simple “let’s-turn-this-gargage-off-and-listen-to-some-real-rap-instead” can be enough, as your child may still value your opinion and fear disappointing you with his/her interest in wack rap. For tougher cases, which usually involve older bull-headed teens who think they know everything, your approach needs to be much more aggressive. To be effective, you must know enough about the rappers in question to have valid arguments. For example:
“Son, this wannabe boss who acts like he’s really about that life used to be an underpaid correctional officer who stole his name from a former drug dealer and created a fake identity that has real street cats wanting to beat his ass, which is why, as much of a boss he claims to be, this studio gangster is afraid to do shows in certain cities because he fears for his safety……..and he also looks like he drinks bacon smoothies.” (If you don’t know what any of this means, you might need more help than I can provide!)
3. Delete your child’s music playlist from their phone or computer and replace it with one of your choice. Wait until your little angel is asleep and go through each song, disposing of the wack ones and replacing them with creative, talented artists who have something to say. While classic Hip Hop joints are always good, don’t overlook newer artists. Rappers like Jay Electronica, Sa-Roc, Priest,Zo The Jerk, and Dynasty will make your child’s favorite rapper sound like the spokesperson for Hooked On Phonics. If your child has any good sense left, they’ll appreciate the upgrade, start getting better grades, eat all their vegetables and become the kid you always wanted them to be. Or they may just hate you forever. Either way, it’s worth a try.
4. Play real rap anytime your child is in your car. If you drive them to and from daycare or school, this is your perfect opportunity to make an impact. If your child is still young, start off with a little 80’s Kid-N-Play to get them acclimated and gradually make your way to edgier sounds as they get older. By the time they’re in high school and suffering from “illogical adolescent mind syndrome”, getting through to them will be harder as they’ll start tuning you out by putting on their earphones. But no matter how much they may try to drown you out, once you snatch their headphones off, they can’t just jump out of the car and will have no choice but to listen to some classic Slick Rick or the latest Talib Kweli. While you have them cornered, gently force them to pay attention to the lyrics and explain them back to you. Of course, you can also try this strategy anytime you’re driving to the store, running errands, a family reunion, or a cross-country trip. There’s nothing like being in a car with a moody teenage Chief Keef fan who’s forced to listen to Poor Righteous Teachers, Masta Ace, GangStarr and X-Clan
5. If your child idolizes top 40, run-of-the-mill clown rappers and has dreams of becoming a famous artist, providing you have skills, you must battle your child. Don’t let your own flesh and blood go down the path of wackness without a serious intervention. Should they foolishly believe that their limited experience with rap suddenly makes them a rapper, it becomes your duty and obligation as a responsible parent to give your baby a lyrical ass-whooping that’ll knock their silly butt back down to earth. It’ll probably hurt you more than it hurts them but that’s what all good ass-whoopings are about. They won’t realize it right away but it’ll benefit them in the long run.
6. Of course, if the thought of battling your baby breaks your heart, you can always plan a parent/child cipher. It makes for a great bonding experience and still allows you to show who’s boss, minus the type of aggression that may come from a straight up battle. Think it can’t be done? Watch how some Arizona based MC’s made a parent/child cipher happen!
There are many other ways to “teach” your kids about real rap. I’ve added a few more in my video blog.
Now that you’re equipped with new strategies, it’s time to take back your power and your kids. We can no longer let Drake, Nicki Minaj and their dumb-ass cousins babysit our children. Good luck, moms and dads!