So this is family blog so what’s a post about HIP HOP doing here?!?! I know: it seems out of place but hang with me. It might be a long one so get comfortable.
To start, I have to provide some background:
- When it comes to music, I’m a bit of an ageist. I think the music of my generation was better…in general. I’m not saying that there isn’t ANY good music but the majority of the songs these days have me scratching my head.
- I’m a Hip Hop purist. I grew up with the beginnings of Hip Hop with the awe and wonderment of hearing the Sugar Hill Gang and Big Daddy Kane on the radio. I believe that rap should be lyrically based. Just my taste.
- I have been calling for parity in the Hip Hop genre for years. In the beginnings of Hip Hop you could listen to the radio and hear KRS ONE, Xclan, Tupac, Fresh Prince, and the Wu at the same time (well not at the exact same time! That would be messy!) My main complaint is that only one kind of song seems to make it onto the radio these days and that sickens me because it’s generally misogynistic and derogatory. Now, I love rachet music like the next guy but where is the balance?
- Lastly, and mostly importantly, the N word assails my ears in the most offensive way. It has no place in the English language, in my opinion, and I would prefer my music to be devoid of such a vile term.
So there’s my musical taste in a nutshell. Which brings me to this post. I have shielded my two daughters from the majority of the Hip Hop on the radio. We have two major Hip Hop stations here in NYC and they are NEVER on in the car when the girls are in it (which is almost always). So they don’t know what a Trap Queen is nor do they know how to Nae Nae. No judgement but I feel like it’s my duty to protect them from music that devalues them. As a result, I also don’t listen to the majority of the songs on the radio today either.
A few weeks ago, I was photographing Summer Jam, the premiere Hip Hop concert in the city.
(Check out some of my work from Greene Light Photography here on this LINK)
The headliner was Kendrick Lamar and I had heard of him. People said that he was the type of artist that I would like so I decided to give To Pimp a Butterfly a listen. At work. Bad idea! The first line from the album is “Every N***a is a star!” OK click! Won’t be listening to THAT!!! I was confused as to why people thought that I would like that artist. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was headed to Philly for a meeting and decided to give Kendrick Lamar another try, sans kids and co-workers this time.
That was the BEST Hip Hop album I have heard in YEARS!!! I was so impressed by that piece of artistry that I played it twice and again when getting ready for dinner. The metaphors were intelligent and the imagery was vibrant. King Kunta is a scathing commentary the industry skillfully masked in a dope beat. The passage about the Butterfly and the Caterpillar is nothing short of brilliant. I was so happy that I had given the album another chance. It reinvigorated my desire to listen to Hip Hop again and seek out other artists like Childish Gambino.
Then I got sad. I was never going to be able to share this with my girls (could you imagine Lady C singing the lyrics of King Kunta or We Gon Be Alright)! How am I supposed to pass down my love of Hip Hop to my daughters if even the best current artist drops the N word and F bombs like they were rain? I don’t want to be corny and roll out the old classics like Run DMC and Slick Rick every time I want to expose Lady C and Lady H to Hip Hop. I’d LIKE to say “Here is the music of my time and let’s listen to your current stuff now” the way we do with other genres. Lady C knows both Micheal Jackson and The Weeknd and appreciates them equally.
The bottom line is that I just want to hear my daughter spitting lyrics from a song on the radio without cringing at the words coming out of her mouth. Where are those songs? Who are those artists?
What are your suggestions for ways to expose my kids to current Hip Hop? By the way, Kidz Bop is OUT of THE QUESTION!!! I would love to hear the comments!!
From The Photoguy Greene