Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
If you ask my father who his favorite rap group of all time is, it’ll be Whodini or EPMD. My father is 61.
My early years were filled with my dad listening to Marvin Gaye, George Clinton, Michael Jackson, Minnie Ripperton (that’s Maya Rudolph’s mom), Anita Baker, so on & so forth until I was old enough to make my own musical decisions. At that point, he bought me a cassette player, Eric B & Rakim’s Paid In Full, & my journey began.
Music played a big part in my household growing up, & as I got older, my dad got younger, & for a brief time we listened to the same music.
He took me to buy all the early classic rap albums, from License To Ill to The Great Adventures of Slick Rick… & everything in between. His favorites, though, were EPMD & Whodini. He also liked DJ Quik when Quik Is The Name started making noise outside of high school parking lots, but David Blake didn’t have the same old school appeal as the others. I bought EPMD’s Strictly Business & my dad has been a fan of theirs ever since. Of course he’s in super grandfather mode & no longer partakes in the rap music scene, but for what it’s worth, he influenced my passion for music at an early age. Even when I’d decided to take a run at rapping professionally, he’d always support what it was I was doing.
It’s hard to develop a similar musical bond with my kids, however, because the caliber of music is completely different than it was some years back.
& I’m fully aware that things change & nothing stays the same, but all change isn’t good change, like pennies.
Sometimes the more something advances, the further away from it’s true self it moves.
The difference between my music & their music is that rap had an identity & cause at one point. As cliché & preachy as it may sound, it’s true. It was more art, less commodity. Those rappers that accomplished nationwide fame had actually achieved something because there was no market & no internet. Not only that, but there was a fair share of censorship in the world without an informational superhighway creating so many side streets & alleys. Now that the Matrix is upon us in full abundance, it’s impossible to monitor everything going on in society, & that definitely includes Hip Hop music. The songs are more aggressive now, more sinister, far more angrier & intrusive than “we” were when rap music was our audio bible. With so many impressionable children (& adults, too) looking for random truths, the wrong song could be the wrong advice at the right moment.
Frequently I check to see what my kids are listening to, just in case one of these songs is teaching them how to bag some bitches or re-up on coke. My pops didn’t have to do that because LL Cool J, even though he never wore a shirt, wasn’t threatening. Neither was Slick Rick, pirate eye be damned. Perhaps this is one of those phenomenons that you blame on social revolution, whatever the hell that means, & just do the best you can to make sure it doesn’t affect you & yours like it does them & theirs.
These days, my kids are listening to Kid Cudi & NaS. Those are their go-to rappers. & that’s fine by me. Why? Because they’re non-threatening, as opposed to the dozens (if not hundreds, shout out to the internets) of bad influences waiting to corrupt the youth – in the name of making music – at a moment’s notice. I didn’t think being a Hip Hop dad would be such a hurdle-jumping contest.
Words by Tony Grands