Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
The great Boston rapper Ed O.G. once told us, “Be a Father to Your Child.” And many of us young American males who grew up as hip-hop fans and are still immersed in the culture every day are out here trying our best to do just that. But being a father and a hip-hop fan at the same damn time ain’t always that easy. Rap music is loaded with adult content and constant references to sex, drugs, and violence. But when you strip that all away, the fundamental basis of it—beats and rhymes and scratches—is something that any age can enjoy. We all have memories of being too young to understand a rap song but still loving it. I had Run-D.M.C. and Fat Boys tapes in 2nd grade, and even though a lot of what they were saying probably went over my head, they were my most cherished possessions! And now that dudes like me are fathers, we are watching our kids experience that same joy and excitement we had when we first discovered hip-hop, and we happily share that bond with them.
Since this weekend is Father’s Day, we decided to explore the notion of hip-hop fatherhood in 2014 and reach out to a few friends of the site that all make a living in some way or another within hip-hop to ask them about their experiences raising their children as what we affectionately refer to here at NahRight as Rap Dads. And since eskay and I are both Rap Dads, we included ourselves in this one too. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Father’s Day!!
Reggie Ossé aka Combat Jack (Podcast Host/Author)
Number of kids/ages: 4 kids, sons ages 17, 16, and 12, daughter age 6.
Personal Rap Dad description: Brooklyn rap kid turned music lawyer who gave it all up to become an author (Bling: The Hip Hop Jewelry Book), blogger, and now host of the mighty Combat Jack Show and founder of the Loud Speakers podcast network. Not the disciplinarian because my wife does it better. Am committed to raising my kids to be appreciative of culture, people, and also to be some untouchable world leaders of the future.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: First song they learned all the lyrics to is Kanye, Jay Z, and Rihanna’s “Run This Town.”
Kids favorite rappers: They love Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West.
Where I listen to rap music at home: Best place I listen is in my car. Or on my headphones when I’m doing chores. Or on my Beats Pill or Beats Box in the living room when we’re all in the mood to listen to the same music.
Classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Run-D.M.C.’s Greatest Hits, Jay Z’s The Blueprint, and NaS’ Illmatic.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: My daughter got me listening to the Disney Radio channel on Sirius XM so I’m listening and singing along to more Ariana Grande, Becky G and One Direction than I think I should be. I detest anything related to Frozen but the minute my daughter starts singing “Let It Go” for the zillionth time, I have no choice but to join in. But I will never like the show My Little Pony. Having 3 sons and 1 daughter, I know for certain that girls shows are so much weirder than shows for boys.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: I remember blasting N.W.A’s EFIL4ZAGGIN and my elders telling me I wouldn’t appreciate that type of music when I had kids. Now that I have kids, I still dig gangsta rap but I’m concerned as to why radio doesn’t provide more balance. In a sense it doesn’t matter though because none of my kids have any desire to listen to radio.
Also, I used to be a staunch rap conservative. I hated non lyrical rappers until I saw—a few years ago—how much my kids and their friends got so much joy listening to Soulja Boy. It made me realize I was on the verge of becoming that old guy who always complained about the proverbial “good old days” and I vowed to keep more of an open mind to today’s rap. I guess that’s why I’m such a huge fan of cats like 2 Chainz. Funny thing though is the more rap liberal I’ve become, the more rap snobbish my sons have become, because they now frown upon me bumping 2 Chainz and French Montana as they gravitate to super lyrical cats like Childish Gambino. At least we all agree that two of rap’s greatest who ever did it are Jay Z and NaS, and we all have a great appreciation for Run-D.M.C. And I’m still a fan of Biz Markie because of his Juice Crew days, while my daughter loves him because of Yo Gabba Gabba. So I guess I did my job as a Rap Dad.
Shea Serrano (Writer)
Number of kids/ages: I have three sons. There are the twins, Boy A and Boy B. They’re seven-years-old. Neat fact: They were born on Father’s Day, if you can even believe that shit. There’s also the baby, Boy C. He’s about 20-months-old. He wasn’t born on Father’s Day. He’s my third favorite.
Personal Rap Dad description: I’m not entirely sure what this means. I am a dad and I like rap, so I guess that makes me a Rap Dad? I don’t know. That’s cool. It’s better than being, say, Stab Dad, or, worse still, Rape Dad. Oh man, we’re all one extra E away from this being a column called Rape Dads. That’s crazy.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: I don’t think they know all the words to any rap song, but they for sure know a bunch of words to a lot of different songs. Back when they were first starting to understand words and sounds and all that, I was listening to Kid Cudi a lot. I’d guess it’s something like “Save My Soul.” Kid Cudi was so great like three or four years ago.
I remember we spent a day or two learning the opening part of DJ Screw’s “June 27th Freestyle.” That was super. Have you ever seen a five-year-old recite Big Moe lyrics? That’s the best shit of all. I taught them the beginning of Z-Ro’s “Mo City Don Freestyle” too. Both of those were situationally necessary though. You can’t live in Houston and not know either of those. It’s a mandate or some shit.
My kids favorite rappers: If you ask them, they’ll say either Bun B or Doughbeezy*, two people that they seem to remember without really knowing why. They really like the guy from C&C Music Factory, which is the dumbest thing. But they don’t really just listen to rap by themselves or whatever. Mostly they just make up their own songs. They’re usually really terrible, but one time Boy A rhymed “winner” with “wiener” and that’s a winner’s move right there.
*Doughbeezy is a very talented underground rapper in Houston. I took the boys to a listening party or something that Dough was having at a clothing store or something and for some reason they never forgot it.
Where I listen to rap music at home: In my headphones. When they were real small I could get away with listening to it in the open. But they’re too smart now. They hear everything. I can’t have one of them in school telling his teacher to “bust it open for a real nigga.” That shit won’t fly. So when they’re awake, and if for some reason I have to listen to rap, I plug in my headphones.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: It depends on how old the kids are. If they’re at the age where they’re listening to (and repeating) words with real skill, then maybe something like Mos Def and Talib’s Black Star. That’s a great album. Go with that.
If the kids are too young to know any better, then pump them full of UGK.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: The boys and I watched a couple episodes of The Regular Show. That show’s kind of funny. I remember we were watching it this one time; we’re all just sitting there on the couch staring at the TV like monkeys. And it’s completely silent in the house otherwise. We’re just there the three us watching and something happened and we all three laughed at the exact same time at the exact same stupid joke and I was like, “Being a dad is so fucking dope.” That was neat.
I make them watch adult shit with me, like basketball or football games. One time Boy B told me that he was rooting for LeBron James and I almost dropkicked that bitch in the chest. That’s true and real.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: It hasn’t. I don’t purposely intersect the two in any serious manner; mostly, it’s just for a funny single thing or whatever. Rap isn’t for kids.
Sean Price (Rap Artist)
Number of kids/ages: I have 3 kids, I claim two on taxes. Boys are 18, 15, and my daughter is 4.
Personal Rap Dad description: “My son like, ‘They can’t fuck with you Dad!’ True.”
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: My daughter knows “Gangnam Style.” And I have a new song, I don’t even know the name of it, but there’s a little tongue-twister in there, I say, “George Papadopoulos, monotonous botanist, apocalypse proper shit, chocolate doctor that doctored the document.” And she likes to go, “Dad, ‘Chocolate doctor that doctored the document,’ I said it.” To hear her say that is amazing.
My kids favorite rappers: I had a free show yesterday at Betsy Head Park, and my 18-year-old son is so corny, he was like, “Yo, who’s Joey Bada$$?” I’m like, “You ain’t up on nothin’.” He’s wack. And me and his mother love music. He got access to all the Sean Price shit, then he waits until his friends jump on the dick, and comes back like, “Dad, you got this?!” I’m like, “Get outta here with that shit.” He’s corny as hell. He’s at that age where first your Dad is cool, then you think your Dad is corny, and now he’s realizing that he isn’t. And I’m like, “Whatever, get the fuck out my face now.”
My other little man, he really likes Eminem. He listens to Em all the time.
Where I listen to rap music at home: In the kitchen. My kitchen is my office. Got my laptop and a couple other things in there, and I write my rhymes in there. And the refrigerator’s right there, so it’s convenient.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: I let my kids hear anything, because the records aren’t your parents, I’m the parent. When I was younger, I listened to Richard Pryor records. That might explain why I rhyme like this, now that I think about it. But when I grew up, my grandmother was an illegal numbers runner. So I was surrounded with all kinds of music I shouldn’t have been around. But, I came up pretty good. I don’t play them the edited versions. I let them hear the curses and all that, because that’s real life. And I come from a family of, “Don’t do what I do, do what I tell you.” I grew up that way, so I do that with my kids.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: Max and Ruby. I watch Max and Ruby with them, we love Max and Ruby. “Max and Ruby, Ruby and Max!”
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: When my son was first born, I was aiight. But now that he’s 18, I’m fuckin’ nice!!
Get Sean Price’s music on iTunes.
Amir Abbassy (Artist and Brand Manager)
Number of kids/ages: 3 kids, ages 8,6, and 3.
Personal Rap Dad description: Being a Rap Dad has it’s perks—your kids think you’re cool, you play them good music, and dancing/head bobbing is a daily ritual.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: I don’t think they have any memorized but I definitely played the edited version of Geto Boy’s “Mind Is Playing Tricks On Me” enough times that I’m sure they subconsciously have it memorized.
My kids favorite rappers: My kids support the home team so you know Freeway* is definitely their favorite rapper.
Ed. note. Amir manages Freeway.
Where I listen to rap music at home: Straight off my iPhone.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: I would recommend The Low End Theory. Sonically it is easy listening and there are definitely some nice melodies and bounce for a kid to easily consume.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: Everyone keeps saying Pharrell’s “Happy” is getting old but I still rock out to it like it dropped yesterday. It will always remind me of my kids.
I’m a big Phineas and Ferb fan, and one day I went on Twitter talking about it and found out another Rap Dad homie Dawton Thomas was a fan too. My favorite kids movie is probably Toy Story 3. I’ve seen it at least four hundred times, my son Musa used to watch it like crazy. I definitely shed thug tears during the incinerator scene.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: I don’t think my opinion has changed. I am definitely more aware of what I don’t want my kids to be negatively exposed to, but I’m also raising them to know the difference between right and wrong. I’m really looking forward to sharing with them rap music I grew up on as soon as I think they are old enough to consume it. I have the edited version of Philadelphia Freeway and we have been playing that in the car since they were newborns.
Rob Markman (Writer/Editor/Producer at MTV)
Number of kids/ages: 2 sons, 6 and 8
Personal Rap Dad description: Raising my sons to be better than me.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: The first song I remember my oldest son singing was the hook DJ UNK “Walk It Out,” he was a one-year-old, maybe a little closer to 2. My youngest was Drake’s “The Motto.” At first I was like, “Awww man,” because UNK wasn’t my favorite, but honestly it makes sense. The first song I remember singing was Slick Rick “La Di Da Di,” so UNK is my son’s Slick Rick. Ha.
My kids favorite rappers: Their favorite rappers change all the time. They’re really into Drake and Rapper-turnt-singer T-Pain these days, but they are more into songs than they are into specific rappers.
Where I listen to rap music at home: We mostly listen to music while driving. Because of my hectic work schedule, I don’t get to spend too much time with the kids Monday through Friday, but on the weekends, we’re usually driving somewhere, and that’s when I get to listen to what they’re listening to.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: If I really like an album, I’ll buy the clean version just to keep in the car so I can listen to with the boys. I guess I’d play them a Lil’ Bow Wow album, but why do I have to suffer? I’d just go with a clean version of Nothing Was the Same and we’d be good. Those Kidz Bop CDs do the trick too.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: My kids used to watch Victorious all the time on Nickelodeon, so they put me up on that Ariana Grande wave early. The show I probably watch the most with them is Teen Titans and that new show Clarence.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: My opinion of rap hasn’t changed any since I’ve had kids. Rap music is rap music, it shouldn’t change just because I decided to have kids. There were plenty of albums that I listened to as a kid that I probably shouldn’t have. I remember sneaking to listen to N.W.A and hiding my Bacdafucup CD from my mom until I found out she wasn’t really tripping over it.
I’m just glad me and my sons listen to the same music and we can bond over hip-hop. Because of my job, I’m the cool dad.
THE KID MERO AKA BABY QUARTER WATER AKA THE KNOWLEDGE GOD (Writer/Comedian/50% of Desus vs. Mero)
Number of kids/ages: 2 BOYS, MERO JR. IS 3 & MERO III IS 1.
Personal Rap Dad description: THE RAP DAD WHO AIN’T AFRAID TO ROLL UP HIS SLEEVES AND GET IT POPPIN IN THE SANDBOX. TEACHING MY SONS HOW TO TIE THEY DURAGS RIGHT SINCE I’M BACK TO BACK DURAG MODEL OF THE YEAR FOR ’07 & ’08. ALSO IMPARTING #KNOWLEDGE UPON THEIR CRANIALS.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: THEY DON’T KNOW THE WORDS TO ANY SONGS BUT MY 3 YEAR OLD HAS PERFECTED THE FRENCH MONTANA “HAAAANNNN” WHICH HE DEPLOYS WHEN HE WANTS TO PEE ON SHIT THAT’S NOT A TOILET.
My kids favorite rappers: MERO JR LIKES FAT JOE, MERO III CAN’T COMMUNICATE WORDS TO ME BUT IF YOU PLAY RICK ROSS TRILLA FOR HIM HE WILL STOP CRYING 87.3% OF THE TIME.
Where I listen to rap music at home: IN THE KITCHEN COOKIN AND WHEN WE DO CHORES, WHEN IT’S PLAYTIME WE FOCUS ON PLAYING WITHOUT MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND. ALTHOUGH I WILL PUT RAP MUSIC ON WHEN WE HAVE A DUNK CONTEST ON THE MINI BASKETBALL HOOP.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS IS CLASSIC SHIT THAT ALSO DOESN’T HAVE THAT MANY REFERENCES TO NIGGAS BEING HOMICIDED AND MOLLY WATER AND SHIT LIKE THAT, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I ACTUALLY PLAYED IT FOR MERO JR AND MERO III IN THE WOMB.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: I’LL DEAD ASS WATCH MERO JR’S DVR’D EPISODES OF OCTONAUTS BY MYSELF WHILE I VAPORIZE WEED IN MY LIVINGROOM. NO SHAME B. CAPTAIN BARNACLES IS THAT NIGGA.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: HAVING YOUNG KIDS CAUSES YOU TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO BEATS CUZ THAT’S WHAT THEY JAM TO, THESE LITTLE NIGGAS AIN’T GONNA SIT DOWN AND DISSECT A KENDRICK LAMAR VERSE BUT SOON AS I THROW ON “SHOT CALLER” THEY START HEAD NODDIN & DIDDY BOPPIN.
Styles P (Rap Artist)
Number of kids/ages: 2 kids, a daughter and a son. My daughter’s 19, my son’s 16.
Personal Rap Dad description: “You christen your kids, I let my son listen to B.I.G.”
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: With my son, I know his first artist that he really wanted their album was E-40, and Kanye. And my daughter, she loves Yelawolf. It’s hard to remember specific songs, because music is always playing in my household. We play a lot of everything, and I make music for a living. My kids practically listen to everything that I listen to in one way or another, from just riding around with your kids. And they play their own stuff, too. My son’s been playing a lot of old school hip-hop, too. Like, he loves Biggie, Nas, N.W.A, Wu. And these things, he just happened to gravitate to.
My kids favorite rappers: I know my son loves Flatbush Zombies. He rocks with Kendrick. He rocks with Joey Bada$$ a lot. He rocks with a lot of underground. My daughter actually likes a lot of South music and club songs. And Yelawolf. She likes the party kind of joints. She’ll be playing Kid Ink in the house. My daughter’s way more eclectic than everybody. She’ll be in her room listening to all types of music.
Where I listen to rap music at home: My sons rocks his music in his own room. My daughter rocks in her own room. Then my daughter and my wife, they’ll have the living room blasting with music. So I’m kind of the one who plays the least music in the house. I rock the car. The car is my world, and the house is more of everybody else’s world.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: Kanye’s first two albums were pretty kid friendly. Common has a lot of music a kid can listen to. Talib Kweli of course. Black Thought. Nas got a bunch of songs kids can listen to. Even gangster rappers got a lot of good music. Everyone raises their kids differently in their own household. I let my kids listen to a lot of hardcore shit when they were with me, but you teach them different lessons, and why the music is like that.
I grew up way different than they grew up. Some of the choices I made were foolish. You have less opportunities when you’re in a less fortunate neighborhood. So when they do hear certain shit, you just try to give them knowledge with it, because you can’t really hide the world from your kids. If you hide that shit from them, they’re gonna go outside and get it anyway. And it’s not just hip-hop. When I was coming up, Prince said a lot of crazy shit. ‘80s white people music to me is the craziest shit ever! That’s one of my favorite genres of music ever, and they used to say a lot of crazy shit.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: Me and my kids to this day, we watch all kinds of movies together. That’s kind of a family thing in our house. From early X-Men, to early Batman, to early Spiderman. The Incredibles, Toy Story, all that shit. That’s part of your life as a parent. Even though I’m a rapper, as a parent, you still do parent shit. It’s regular shit. I remember watching Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes when they were little girls. We would watch Degrassi. You just catch certain shit with your kids. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Certain shit bonds generations, too. My son loves Ninja Turtles, I love Ninja Turtles. He loves X-Men, I love X-Men. He loves Spidey, I love Spidey. It just passes down, and that’s a bond you can share.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: As an artist, you have to be creative, and be the artist you are. You can’t change who you are for anybody but yourself. But you can do it for yourself because you’re trying to be better for them. But your kids know you for who you are. My kids don’t view me as Styles P, they view me as Daddy. They’re not letting our world revolve around who I am outside. I am who I am at home, and that’s it. Rap is my job.
My opinion of rap hasn’t changed as a parent, but just as a person. It always evolves. I’m glad it came back around and it’s sounding solid again. But as a person, your view’s gotta change on it. Hip-hop was fucking garbage for a while. But now hip-hop is healthy.
Styles P’s new album Phantom and the Ghost is out now on New Music Cartel/Empire. Get it HERE.
Oprime39 (1/2 of rap group Timeless Truth)
Number of kids/ages: 3 kids- 2 daughters and a newborn son, ages 4, 2, and 3 months.
Personal Rap Dad description: Morals, values, unity, love, loyalty, discipline, THEN music. Timeless Truth is like an alter ego in my home. My kids recognize that when “daddy is doing Timeless Truth” he’s handling adult BI. I’m a completely different person around my children compared to being a rapper. My lady and I work hard to instill the aforementioned traits in them, so keeping music and rap life separate is necessary. I rarely write at my rest, but when I do my kids are always right there with me. They vibe out to beats with me, butcher words and mimic my bop when I write. It’s an amazing feeling to be honest. Plus making bread off of music is a source of income that’ll benefit my family, so what could possibly be more inspiring?
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: Timeless Truth “Wherever We Go.”
My kids favorite rappers: Timeless Truth. They know of no others, ha!
Where I listen to rap music at home: Headphones mostly. But if there is something I feel is suitable to play out loud in the crib I will. Since having children, the amount of rap music that plays at home has been cut drastically. Maybe because my first 2 were girls. Now that I have a son, I’m putting him on EARLY! Another reason is that after becoming a father the grind to get money got that much realer. I ain’t really got time to enjoy music from a fan’s perspective as much as I used to. That’s why any music they have been exposed to is mostly our own stuff, you dig?
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: Main Source Breaking Atoms. I haven’t quite gotten there yet with them, but that’ll be the one. Besides the genius that’s encapsulated in the music, it doubles as a history lesson about the land that birthed both them and me, FLUSHING.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: The TV shows can be nauseating for any adult, but the movies are cool. Pixar be killing it. Toy Story, Madagascar, Despicable Me, etc.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: My opinion on when it’s okay to expose children to rap music has changed. There is a certain way to do it. I play funk and soul records for my children on the daily cause those are the roots of hip-hop. I play break beats, and instrumentals. That’s proper for right now. The messages in hip-hop are too raw for them at this point.
We (Timeless Truth) caught a lot of jewels off listening to rap. It taught us slang and street savvy that became practical in our everyday lives. I want my son to be educated the same way. But I’m not gonna let my daughters hear some of the stuff I listen to. It’s just too explicit. Before children, I vowed to never allow my kids to listen to pop music or commercial shit. Once I became a father, it became clear that being part of different generations isn’t a bad thing. If the message is positive, I’m for it.
Timeless Truth’s new EP Dominican Diner, which dropped earlier this week, is out now. Get it HERE.
eskay (NahRight Owner, Blogger)
Number of kids/ages: Four total, 2 boys, ages 2 & 4, 2 girls, 8 & 16.
Personal Rap Dad description: I’ve been a father since I was 20 and it’s still kind of hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’m responsible for raising another human being. I like to think I’ve matured since then, but hip-hop is like a fountain of youth, even as you get older it keeps you connected to the youthful energy that first drew you towards it as a kid. I’m in my mid 30s and while my pants are less baggy, I still walk with a diddy bop and try to stay in tune with the struggle. That being said, I work hard, support my family, and try to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I want to instill in my kids the idea that those values and living within the hip-hop culture are not mutually exclusive, regardless of what Bill O’Reilly might say.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: The boys are still young so they’re just now starting to learn about rap, right now they’re mainly into kids songs and the Frozen soundtrack. My oldest daughter is heavy into rap, but I don’t recall what the first song she knew by heart was. My 8-year-old knows all of the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass” though. Not sure what that says about me as a father.
My kids favorite rappers: Again, the boys are too young, but they’ve really been fucking with RAST’s “The Gun Don’t Make The Man” lately. I think it’s the chorus. The 8 year-old says Nicki Minaj. For the record, she discovered her on her own. My 16-year-old is into J.Cole and Drake. I took her to the Club Paradise Tour a couple of summers ago, and that was like one of the first real hip-hop experiences I had with one of my kids where they were old enough to really appreciate it.
Where I listen to rap music at home: I mostly play music in my office/man cave. Probably 75% of the stuff I listen to is too raw for the little ones so I don’t play too much rap around the house unless we have people over. Everytime my kids come into my office they ask me to put some music on and I usually do.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: Probably A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory. It’s not too raunchy and it’s an album that means alot to me personally, plus it’s an undeniable classic. I think kids of any age will appreciate joints like “Buggin’ Out” and “Scenario.”
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: The Lego Movie theme, “Everything Is Awesome.” I took my son to see that and I couldn’t stop singing it for a week. Now everytime I hear it, it gets stuck in my head for days. Somebody should rap over that.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: I was probably like 11 or 12 when I really started to get into rap heavy, buying albums and recording pause tapes off the radio. Two of the albums that I always say changed my life were Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo Wanted: Dead or Alive and N.W.A’s EFIL4ZAGGIN. I don’t know if I would want my kids listening to either of those albums, or anything comparable from recent times, until they were at least 16. Maybe it’s just me turning into an old man, but I don’t know that younger kids these days are equipped to handle that level of violence and aggressive content. I don’t know that I necessarily was either, but that was also the era of Public Enemy and X-Clan so there was far more balance back then than there is now.
The prevailing wisdom is that it is the parents’ responsibility to closely monitor what their kids are consuming, and failing that, to educate them enough to understand that music is art and entertainment and should be interpreted as such. I adhere to that theory. Fuck censorship. I think a rapper should be able to say literally anything they want in a song and if you don’t like it, you’re free to be offended and turn it off.
I remember watching a Kevin Smith stand-up special where he was talking about how he doesn’t really discipline his daughter for cursing because he made his living off of writing explicit jokes and films and it’s basically the family business. I feel the same way to an extent. If you raise your kids correctly they will know how to conduct themselves in public. But still, some shit is deeper than rap.
For example, if my kids grow up and want to toss N-bombs around, that’s their perogative. But I’d be remiss in my job as a parent if I didn’t make sure that they understand the full weight of that word and its history in this country. I hate when people police speech, but I also don’t like when people speak from an uninformed position.
Daniel Isenberg aka Stan Ipcus (NahRight Features Editor)
Number of kids/ages: 2 boys, ages 4 and 2, with one more boy on the way due in August.
Personal Rap Dad description: Catch me late night (9:30pm) in the Odyssey thumping Marcberg on the way to CVS to cop diapers and wipes let’s get it.
First rap song my kids knew all the words to: My 4-year-old can pretty much rap along to all of “Otis,” he’s been able to for a while now. Not every word correctly of course, but he’s right there with the flow and he blurts out the major punchlines, like, “Stuntmen!” I remember the night Flex premiered it on Hot 97, I was streaming it live in the kitchen on my laptop while I was cleaning up, and he was in the bathroom with my wife taking a bath. He was like 14-months-old, and he heard the beat as he was getting out, dropped the towel, and came running into the kitchen and started dancing to it butt naked. I got it on video, it was a proud Rap Dad moment. And ever since, that’s been one of his joints. Now he sits in his carseat and I see him in the rearview mouthing all the words to it with rapper hands and all that. It’s amazing.
My kids favorite rappers: I think Kanye West and Jay Z are my oldest son’s favorite rappers. He loves all their songs that come on the radio or that I’ve put on mixes for the car. “Otis” of course, and he always requests “Stronger” and “Tom Ford” and then wants to listen to them on repeat. And he gets open when the “Drunk in Love (Remix)” comes on the radio now with Kanye and Jay’s verses on it. Those are probably his two favorites, he’s a big Throne guy I guess. And Macklemore. Him and my younger son turn up to “Thrift Shop” I can’t front. Very painful, but very true.
Where I listen to rap music at home: I mostly listen to rap when I’m doing the dishes in the kitchen on my phone via my Soundcloud likes or a Spotify playlist shuffle. And when I shower and shave and get dressed, I play joints off my phone too using the same apps. But for the most part I save my personal rap intake for my ride to work or late night when everyone’s asleep.
With my kids, we bug out and listen to music off this iPod dock I have when we’re in their room playing on their Little Tikes basketball hoop, and we play videos on the TV through YouTube on the PS3 sometimes in the living room and have family dance parties. That’s like the most fun thing ever, we need to do that more often. They like watching that kid Matty B’s videos on there too, and “Talk Dirty” aka “the song with the saxophone” has also been getting a lot of burn lately.
A classic rap album I recommend to other Rap Dads to play for their children: I’ve struggled with this in my own life, but I do have an A Tribe Called Quest mix I made a couple years ago that I keep in the whip and put on for the boys sometimes when it’s just me and them riding around, just so they can get a feel for what their Dad grew up on. So I’d probably recommend The Low End Theory. That’s my favorite rap album of all-time, and the first rap album I fell in love with as a kid, and it’s not too vulgar or anything.
But honestly, my kids prefer the newer stuff over anything like that I ever play for them, although they did seem to like Grand Puba “360 (What Goes Around),” I specifically put them on to that a few weeks ago during a hoops session in their room. My hope is that they’re soaking it all in whether they react to it or not.
Favorite kids music/TV show/movie: I’ve seen other Rap Dads on Twitter give this guy a hard time, but I love my dude Twist from The Fresh Beat Band. That show is great, I’m not mad at it. And Twist is like the tall, goofy, Jim Carrey-esque whiteboy in the band who raps and DJs and beatboxes. He’s hilarious, I’m a fan. I like that show in general, and the songs on it. Both boys like to watch it and dance to it, and my wife likes it, too. It’s the perfect music show for toddlers. As for movies, I really like The Lorax, that’s a dope flick. Madagascar is fun, too. Those are my younger son’s two favorite movies, so we have that in common.
How my opinion of rap music has changed since I had kids: The one thing I’ve noticed about rap since I became a parent is the amount of unnecessary curses there are in songs that are intended to be mainstream hits. I definitely understand that artists are not making rap songs with kids or the radio in mind, and I respect that. But I get tight because I want to play the new stuff for my kids, and there are so many curses. Even Beyonce’s new album has mad curses on it. And Hov especially went in with the curses on the last album. “Holy Grail” and “Tom Ford,” which both get mad love from my kids, have an insane amount of curses on them for songs that he must’ve known were going to have a big reach. I had to cop the edited versions for the whip just due to the amount of requests those songs were getting from the backseat, which are a little better, but still, way too many unnecessary curses. Then again, I still curse unnecessarily way too much, so who am I to talk! Us Rap Dads should all collectively fall back on the fuckin’ cursing though. Oh shit, my bad.
Catch up on all NahRight features HERE.