Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Married With Children.....& Rap

My wife and I recently attended the SXSW festival in Austin to see the Blacksmith Showcase featuring Reflection Eternal, Idle Warship, the return of the great John Forte', Homeboy Sandman and others. (I'll post video and pics as soon as my computer game gets better.)

The show was hosted by Hot 97 personality Peter Rosenberg who early in the show asked a question that has been stuck in my head since asked:

"How many of y'all are married with kids, and still love rap music?"

As is customary in Hip Hop I threw my hands in the air but the thought stuck with me. Young, single people are the ones leading the way in Hip Hop but I know for a fact that I'm not the only one in that position. I'm surrounded by folks in my shoes, but I began to ponder on whether or not this was a good thing.

I stated in my first post here that my parents disliked Rap but unbeknown est to them they introduced it to me. They were in their early 20's when the movement began to take shape and go more mainstream. I still remember my parents saying that Rap was just a fad that will play out like Disco but it didn't stop my dad from going cop the early records like The Beat Street Soundtrack and every record the Sugar Hill Label put out. My Dad made it a point that if a record was hot he didn't want to be without it if company came over and requested it. So now I'm officially indoctrinated into this "fad" that I've followed throughout my lifetime.

When I hit my teens I felt the urge to pick up the mic and spit. My friends would encourage me and at one point was close to getting a deal. But when that fell through I decided to put music on hold and take care of myself first. I went to jail, joined the Army, got married, had kids, went to war, had more kids, and then BOOM, here I am with the middle class, suburban life of football and basketball games, parent - teacher conferences, and frequent visits to a game room/pizza parlor owned and operated by a giant skateboarding rat whom shall remain nameless. But Rap has been with me the whole time.

I've spent many a night and road trip thinking about whether or not its good to let my kids listen to rap. Yes, my kids know how to do the "Stanky Leg" (much to my chagrin) but its no different then when we were doing the "Kid N Play" or bouncing and pausing with Jubilee. Both songs aren't exactly lyrical masterpieces but they are and were fun, so who am I to knock the joints that they find fun.

But its up to us to introduce them to what Hip Hop truly is!

When my 9-year old son got his first mp3 player I told him to give me a wish list of songs that he wanted. A lot of his list was whatever you will hear repeatedly on your local Hot, Z, Jammin, Power, Q or The Beat radio station but there was one selection that blew my mind:

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

"The Message"

I was floored!! I asked how did he know about this and he said he heard it in the movie "Happy Feet" and he googled the lyrics. I have to admit, this bought a Kool-Aid smile to my face. I gladly went to ITunes and bought it for him. Since then I've introduced him to MC Lyte, Special Ed, KRS-One, Ice Cube (even though he still refers to the Don Mega as "that dude in Are We There Yet"), Scarface, Em, M.I.A. and Kweli. And I think he's all the better for it.

My dad told me once that sometimes fathers have to put their own interests to the side so that their kids dreams can come true someday, so I'm not bitter. It's fun being just a fan of the music and culture. I still feel blessed to hear and see a great MC spit and tell real stories that I can relate to and exhibit a phenomenal mastery of words.

So whenever I'm in the car with my 3 sons they make sure they ask for "The Message" and we all sing along to the track (even my 4-year old knows the hook!). I can't help but to smile because I know that no matter how much cats complain about how hip hop is dying, in my own little way, I'm helping to keep Hip-Hop alive.

That feels better than any CD I could have ever dropped.

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