I think my youngest kid has an affinity for trap-leaning, lyrically sound hip-hop and I’m here for it

OPINION: He jams to gospel and old school R&B, but he seems to feel most connected to hip-hop. 

Rappers Kendrick Lamar and Future perform on the Coachella Stage during day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I don’t know about your night time routine with your little ones—such that you have them—but mine is pretty paint-by-numbers. I turn the lights down in the room save for one dim lamp, sit down in the rocking chair with a bottle, turn on some night-time lullaby music and let the dulcet sounds of a midi-keyboard lull my 18-month old, we shall call him Lucky, to sleep.

It works like a charm, too. He’s usually out in 10-15 minutes tops. They call me Bossman in the parent groups. (They don’t at all.)

But I made an interesting musical discovery the other day.

During the day, Lucky takes a nap usually between 11am and noon. Sometimes, we use the night-time routine. Well, just as I was about to get ready to put him to sleep for his nap—with my night-time routine—I just so happened to be playing a favorite song of mine, fairly loudly as I straightened up the room since I don’t like to do serene things in chaotic surroundings.

I was playing Kenny Mason’s “Hit,” a total joy of a song. It’s a song about the come-up, from having to hustle and hit a lick to eat to being on millionaire status. But the artist, Kenny Mason, does it with aplomb and a certain lyrical dexterity that makes it both fun and impressive. I’m not saying he’s Nas on the microphone, but on this song, he stuck the landing. 

Anyway, as I was playing this music loudly, Lucky crawled up into my arms, pointed at the bluetooth speaker playing the jam and then went straight to sleep. I was surprised; the song was playing loudly. Him pointing let me know he was feeling it, but being able to go to sleep as a crowd of youth yells out, “oh sh–, bruh, we don’ hit!” with conviction got me to thinking: Does my kid enjoy hip-hop more than nursery rhymes? 

As it turns out, yes. On some mornings, he joins me as I ride all around the greater Washington, D.C. area to drop my various children off at their various schools. On a recent trip, I decided this was the perfect time to test this theory out. So instead of only rocking Cocomelon’s greatest hits, I sprinkled in a little Future, Jeezy, some Three-6 and Outkast (I’m a former purist, after all) just to see what he reacted to most.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most scientific practice; I truly can’t tell if his face showed excitement when Future was playing. But his face didn’t show disdain—he didn’t throw anything at me at any point while I played trap music. And just to be safe, I played “Hit” a few times since that’s what brought us to this experiment in the first place. 

Now, though I can’t entirely determine if he’s into the specific trap artists I brought to the table, I did notice he does enjoy the bounce of a solid hip-hop beat in general, which as a hip-hop head made my heart flutter. I recognize saying my heart fluttered might be the least hip-hop thing I could say, but I’m also a dad now and well, this is what happens to 90s hip-hop heads in their 40s. 

Watching the baby move and shake to some boom-bap and some synth-heavy music with some knock really has me excited and proud. You see, music is one of the ways I hope to connect with my kids. As somebody who has created music for myself and others, and who has spent the better part of my adulthood actively doing anything I could to stay as attuned to musical scenes as possible, I have always hoped that my kids will find the same joy and love in it that I possess.

My three oldest kids seem to. My daughter shares music with me often, thereby putting me up on game, and I share music with her. My 7- and 5-year-olds LOVE to jam out to all types of stuff. They have preferences and tastes and it’s fun to see that happen at such a young age.

With my youngest Lucky showing a heart for hip-hop and the kind I like, I think it’s safe to say that maybe I’ve won the game. I’m opening up my kids early (and keeping it age appropriate as much as humanly possible; I play the clean versions of songs…when I can) and letting them find their lanes. And that makes me proud that they’re doing that. I realize that I’m heavily overstating this path with an 18-month-old but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. 

For now, I’ll keep seeing where this new discovery takes me. Who knows, maybe my kid will become a Young Thug fan or maybe even Lauryn Hill and Nas. Either way, I’m excited for the possibilities. 

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

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