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In Our House We Don’t Just Listen To Rap Music — We Discuss It

Jul 29, 2019

I think I can take the credit or the blame on this one, depending on how you view it. I remember his tiny head bopping in the back seat while Wu Tang pumped through the car speakers. I changed the station when C.R.E.A.M. came on because I was worried about the language and my then two-year-old daughter demanded that I change it back.

Bonding over rap music was definitely something that made me put my mom hat on for a minute. It feels like just yesterday we had Raffi on repeat.

I love hip hop — I love the beats, the poetry and the message that can be found in the rhymes. I love when an artist samples a song, a lyric or a beat and turns an already beautiful song into something of a different nature with its own allure.

My appreciation of hip hop has passed on to my kids, specifically to my son.

I’m so happy that he shares my passion for the music. I’m in heaven when we are riding in the car together with beats turned up loud, bopping along. We take turns with songs: me trying to impress upon him the greatness that was Tupac; him trying to get me to understand XXXtentacion and Lil Baby. (I don’t get it.)

Bonding over rap music was definitely something that made me put my mom hat on for a minute. It feels like just yesterday we had Raffi on repeat.


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“You let him listen to this?” other parents say to me in surprise. The truth is, I don’t see an issue with him listening to hip-hop music.

He watched me rap along to one of my favourite songs and when I skipped over the N-word, he asked me what the word meant.

Is there profanity? Yes. Sometimes a lot. But music isn’t the only place he hears foul language. We’ve been known to drop an F-bomb at home, he hears it in movies, even on the sidelines of his sports games. And let’s be completely transparent here — if you think he’s not hearing it on the playground then think again. We are open about bad language. We let him know that although adults use it and he may hear it from other kids, it’s not appropriate for him to be using that language. I know he’s going to say the words. I do. But when he hears it from me, I explain to him that it makes me sound like I don’t have any other words in my vocabulary. Though sometimes a well-placed cuss word is just what the doctor ordered; "fudge" doesn’t always cut it after a bad stubbing of the toe.

Sometimes after listening to Top 40 radio for a while, I wonder how we ever got our knickers in a knot over hip-hop music. Top 40 songs are filled with questionable lyrics. Miley Cyrus sings about people doing lines of coke in the bathroom. Many didn’t bat an eye when Robin Thicke questioned “What rhymes with hug me?” And when Pitbull sings “Face down, booty up, timber” I don't recall a backlash. Katy Perry’s songs are filled with questionable lyrics yet little girls everywhere sing along to their hearts’ content.

Yet parents still seem uncomfortable with the fact that my son listens to rap.


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This led to a wonderful dialogue between us about the oppression that people of colour have experienced throughout history and today.

I’m sure part of the discomfort is the fact that my son is a middle class, white kid living in the suburbs. He doesn’t know about struggle or adversity. He doesn’t know what it’s like to grow up in the projects. He won’t be pulled over by the police because of the colour of his skin.

But the music has opened up this conversation for us.

He watched me rap along to one of my favourite songs and when I skipped over the N-word, he asked me what the word meant. “I know I shouldn’t say it,” he said “but I don’t know what it means.”

This led to a wonderful dialogue between us about the oppression that people of colour have experienced throughout history and today. We spoke about the issue of police shootings of young black men in the U.S. We discussed the issue of carding. We talked about subtle racism and overt racism. We spoke about white privilege and what that means.

This led to the history of the civil rights movement and an introduction to the importance of people like Rosa Parks and Viola Desmond. We listened to Martin Luther King speeches together. You can access many of them right on Spotify.

We even went as far back as slavery.


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This is important history that he must learn about. These are important social issues facing our world today that he must learn about.

Rap music isn't just filled with violence and misogyny.

As is the case with any musical genre, you can find terrible music and you can find wonderful music.

It’s filled with stories of struggle and overcoming obstacles: “You gotta make a change. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us, to do what we gotta do to survive.” That's Tupac Shakur.

It talks about the importance of chasing your passion: “I wanna do this right. Leave my heart on this stage when I hold a mic.” And that's Childish Gambino.

It talks about pride and confidence and embracing yourself for who you are.

It’s filled with powerful words and great storytelling.


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As is the case with any musical genre, you can find terrible music and you can find wonderful music. Hopefully my son is learning to determine which is which.

We did put a filter on his Spotify for a while so that only the clean versions showed up. But I decided that there was power in talking to him about what he’s hearing, even the bad stuff. So when a song comes on that contains misogynistic lyrics, we have a discussion about why that’s inappropriate and the negative consequences of speaking about women in that way. When lyrics are too sexually explicit, I simply tell him that it’s way too rough for him and we skip the song. But we continue to have open, age-appropriate conversations about sex.

There was a time when jazz music was considered devil’s music. The world thought Elvis was a bad influence, rock ’n’ roll too. There are definitely adult themes in some hip hop, but we can’t paint an entire genre with the same brush.

I’m more than OK with my son being a fan. I’m happy that we share this love. I can secretly take pride in the fact that he watched in awe as I rapped along to Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G. And I know that although he loves his new school rap, he’s got respect for those that paved the way.

Through music, he is learning that the world is so much larger than what’s beyond his line of sight. I hope it sparks a passion in him the way it did with me. I hope he can see it for what it is; beautiful poetry set to some sick beats.

Article Author Natalie Romero
Natalie Romero

Natalie’s passion for writing was reignited as she blogged her way through the pain of her son’s health issues and NICU stay. She is the wife of the world’s greatest foot rubber and mother to an amazingly loyal little boy and a fiercely independent little girl. An HR professional by day and a freelance writer and blogger by night, Natalie is getting a crash course in the juggling act that is the life of a working mother, though she does occasionally drop a ball or two! After spending much of her life trying to be perfect she has learned to rock her shortcomings and is not afraid to admit when she’s failed. This parenting thing can be tough and Natalie believes the best way to survive it is by keeping it real and by leaning on your tribe.

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