ok, new project.
i've decided to teach my three-year-old music-lover about hip-hop. i fell in love with the music and the phenomenon at a young age, and feel a responsibility to teach my child that there are and some very intelligent, creative and positive hip-hop artists out there, before she goes to school and is inundated with the pseudo-thuggery and mindless materialistic blabber of most "rap" music out these days.
the new project may sound a little random or silly, but i truly believe hip-hop has great value. there is so much perspective on history, culture, politics and spirituality couched within the music that often gets overlooked in favor of the hottest beat or the flashiest persona. i want her to be exposed to the great lessons hip-hop offers the world, instead of the negativity and madness. i've already started thinking about lessons in musical etymology through hip-hop's notorious sampling. oh you really like talib kweli's "get by," honey? well, that song liberally samples "sinnerman" by nina simone. here, let me play it for you now!
seriously, people. the last thing an over-thinker like me needed was a kid, over whom i could obsess about fostering awesomeness. but there's no turning back now! BWAHAHA!
this all started when my daughter watched a commercial that featured the instrumental to "rebirth of slick" by digable planets. she was instantly captivated by the hook, and walked around for the next few days letting her family know she was, indeed, "cool like dat." i couldn't resist the opportunity. i sat her on my lap and pulled up the full-length video on youtube with my laptop, just to see her response. i thought for sure the kid wouldn't sit through a video that long without colorful visual effects, upbeat singing, and all the bells and whistles of her standard nick jr. experience. but i was dead wrong. my toddler watched the low-key, somber, black-and-white footage with the focus of a great explorer studying an ancient map. her brows furrowed, she tried her best to hear and understand the lyrics. she nodded to the beat and seemed to take in the general "vibe" of the song. i was wowed!
at her request, i've played the video for her several times since then. just today it occurred to me to play her something else. the trouble lies finding songs that will capture the SPIRIT of hip-hop without explicit lyrics or adult content. i thought and thought, and then a lightbulb flashed. "blue cheese" by the UMCs may not be fully-approved fare for a bona fide hip-hop "head," but it's ideal for a little kid. everyone's dressed in bright colors, smiling and dancing around. the beat is cheery and upbeat. there's even a monster in the video! besides all that, hass g and kool kim were pretty good lyricists. not a hard sell for the midget. she loved it, and asked to watch "the cheese song" again!
i've now created a youtube playlist of all the videos i'd like to play for my little music prodigy as i teach her about one of my favorite music genres. mos def's "umi says" made the list, as did "fugeela" by the fugees.i threw in some "ladies first" by queen latifah for girl power and afrocentrism, while de la soul's "breakadawn" will challenge her aptitude by introducing complex lyrical cadences. i'm sorry to report that "B.O.B." by outkast will probably get cut from the list. i found the cable tv edit of the video, so there are no dirty words, and the colorful video accompanies the fast-paced, dance-friendly song perfectly, but uhm ... there are strippers in the video. don't think i can justify that one. maybe i'll add "the whole world" instead ...
anyway, i'm hoping to have this be an evolving playlist that grows as my girl does. check it out! i'd love to see feedback and suggestions on this, and not even just for hip-hop! suggest some great songs you think my kid would like. i'll thank you in advance to contributing to her awesome-ification.