My son loves listening to rap. I did when I was his age. My mom was really open to the music we listened to as kids. But we had rules. And so does my son.
While the rap coming out now seems to be more in your face with themes that may or may not be age-appropriate, the kids are hearing it and I feel like it’s my job to experience it with my son.
I made this rap playlist as a way to introduce rap that he isn’t familiar with that will also help start conversations with your teenagers or tweens about what’s going in on life.
In high school, I had a really hard time learning about poetry in English. Luckily, I had an awesome teacher, who knew I loved music. She used song lyrics to get her lesson to make sense for me.
Music is powerful and I think it’s a great tool to talk about life lessons with your tweens.
I was SUPER bummed when my son started playing Kodak Black’s Transportin‘, which uses the exact same music that Geto Boys used for My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me. I shared with him the original and we talked about both.
I want to make sure that if my son is into rap, that he knows a little of the history. And while I am not an expert by any means, I want to encourage him to dig a little deeper.
Plus I think Geto Boys is way better so this playlist had to be made.
Once in awhile I get to test drive cars so I can let you know which ones are great for moms and families.
Last week we had the chance to spend some time with a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe.
You can head over to Spotify to follow the playlist which we listened to when we went back to school shopping, or scroll all the way down to see the songs I’ve included (I’ve included Geto Boys at the very end even though it’s not on the list of songs).
I want to be very clear. I still have a lot of work to do myself. This is not comprehensive enough and I know we can go deeper.
What I hope you will pick up though, is that you can be creative and try to meet your teen where they are to have these conversations.
Depending on the age of your child, you can go even deeper. You, as the parent, know best. But I prefer to unpack important issues along with my kids to make sure they understand.
We spend a fair amount of time in the car and my son likes to pick the music. Mostly, I let him, but I was sick of hearing the same songs over and over so I created this rap playlist.
It has some of my favorites plus songs I think he needs to hear or know about.
I titled it “Rap to Bother my 6th Grader” because he was always super resistant to put on a song that I thought he would really like because it’s not currently in rotation on the radio.
When I finally got him to listen to this playlist, he was totally into it. And while he’s no longer in 6th grade, we still listen to this playlist.
As he’s gotten older, our conversations have changed as well.
Popular Rap Songs are a Great Way to Get Your Tween Talking
Sampling | Transportin’ is the perfect example of sampling.
With the rise of the internet and how easy it is for people’s credit to be stripped away from their hard work, I wanted to make sure that my kids understand what sampling is and that you have to pay to use someone’s intellectual property.
I also want them to know that they can keep exploring and if they like a piece of a song, they can go learn more about that artist.
My son picked out the part of Kanye’s Famous that he really loved and we figured out that was Sister Nancy with a song called Bam Bam. We now listen to her more often than Famous. It led us to dancehall which was another area we could explore.
Musicality | We talk about the different types of rap music and what the trends are at the moment versus older stuff that we listen to.
We talk about how some rappers use their words and cadence in a melodic way to create music all on their own versus a more spoken style.
Language | We talk about the cursing and the types of slang used. We talk about why they would choose those words over something else.
We talk about how we don’t repeat those words since they are “adult words.” I have never told my kids those are bad words because they are my choice to say as an adult.
There is a right time and place for the “f” word, even as a mother, in my opinion.
We talk about the use of the “N” word and why we can never say it, and also why they’re hearing it in songs.
Radio Edits | We talk about why there are multiple versions of the same song and why they needed to do that. We listen to both versions and decide which we think is musically better.
To me, Jay Z’s Can I Get a What What will always be better than the unedited version. I also make sure that he is aware that when his younger brother is in the car, there are certain songs we won’t listen to unless they are edited.
He is really good at finding the edited songs that his brother likes.
This has led us to talk about age and readiness to learn about or being emotionally ready for certain subjects. I’m telling you, rap music is a great segue to so many other topics!
These more music-focused conversation starters always lead to a larger learning moment.
My son and I have a really great relationship already but I always want to try to keep the dialogue open. There is no sense in shielding kids anymore.
It’s more about experiencing things together and be willing to talk about everything even if one or both of you are uncomfortable.
Storytelling | When my older son first saw the video and heard the song, This is America (if you haven’t heard about it or seen it, you need to Google it), he was like this is bad.
He picked up on the aggressiveness but thought Donald Glover was shitting on America. So we talked about why it was so powerful and how Donald Glover was using the song and video to get a point across in a really artistic and powerful way.
I think this has helped him to hear songs in a new, deeper way.
When I hear songs come on that aren’t on this playlist, I like to make sure he understands the deeper meaning.
Themes | There are a lot of themes in rap music that we just won’t ever understand. When they talk about their rough childhood on the streets or trying to make ends meet by selling drugs, obviously we can’t relate.
But it does help to give my kid a broader understanding of what life is like for a large portion of our population. This leads to a deeper discussion of systemic racism and why the Black community hasn’t been given the same opportunities as us.
We also talk about how Drake (who was a child actor in Canada) might speak on different topics because he didn’t really live that life. We talk about sharing your authentic story and not posing to be something you aren’t (just be yourself).
We also talk about themes that are in older songs that are still being rapped about today. 2Pac’s Changes is a great example of that. Same thing with Paid in Full by Eric B and Rakim.
I think hearing This is America and then going back and listening to some of these older songs made it really hit home for my son that there are people suffering.
Collaborations | We talk about how great music comes out of people collaborating. My son decided to be Joseph Simmons (of Run DMC) for his “wax museum” project at school last year.
He learned about how Aerosmith and Run DMC came to create music together and how it really made a difference in their success. We mostly focused on the business aspects of this collaboration but it really helped rap crossover to the mainstream.
I like to talk about this to show that artists can be well-rounded by stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new things. We all like to do what we are comfortable with but I want my kids to know they should always push themselves creatively. The Santa Fe had a great sound system. The model we drove had an AM/FM/CD/MP3 6-speaker audio system. It also had Smartphone/USB and auxiliary input jacks which made it super easy to play our Spotify account.
The two upgraded models (the Sport 2.0T and Sport 2.0T Ultimate) feature even more sound system options including the top of the line 12-speaker Infinity® Premium Audio with QuantumLogic® Surround and Clari-Fi™ Music Restoration Technology.
The speaker system provided great, high-quality sound! Which is good since my son likes to listen to his music LOUD!
Sex in Rap Music | This is the hardest part about rap for me. We have had “the talk” with my son and we are open to questions and dialogue. And we make sure to do it all in an age-appropriate way.
But then here comes a song, full of blatant sex talk that makes me blush and I don’t know if my son even knows what they are talking about. He’s asked a few questions and I’ve given him the best answers I can.
We DO talk about objectification and misogyny and talk about why a rapper might share that type of information in a song.
This section is always a work in progress because you never know what you’re going to hear in a song next. (I really like Cardi B’s Be Careful for this. It kind of gives another side to what men talk about and brings feelings back into it.)
Drugs in Rap Music | When Migo’s put out their song, Stirfry, my kid was singing along to it. I was like, hey dude, we probably don’t know what they mean by “stirfry” and he was like, I looked it up and it’s a way to make drugs at home.
We talk about drugs a lot. And alcohol and about how they glamorize it. We talk about the bad decisions, the crime side of things and how it ruins lives.
We talk about how some of these rappers felt they had no other choice in order to provide for a family.
You can’t not talk about it. You should be talking about it anyway. And you can’t hear Snoop Dogg without thinking about weed.
Doing Things Differently | I love to talk to my kids about the artists that are doing things differently. I really like Chance the Rapper’s music but I also love the fact that he handles his business totally different than most other artists.
He isn’t signed to a label (at least when I originally wrote this) and he wants to make sure his fans come first. He goes out of his way to try to thwart ticket scalpers so he can keep his ticket prices low enough for his fans to afford.
He also donates to his community to try to create social change.
And Childish Gambino really put himself out there to share his truth and do what he can to help change what he sees as injustices in America.
Cultural Appreciation over Cultural Appropriation | My son uses a lot of slang he’s picked up from music. And it made me want to make sure that he understands what cultural appropriation means.
There are cultural influences everywhere but the important thing to note in expressing appreciation rather than appropriation is to know more about the culture you’re influenced by including the history of oppression.
Our Rules For Listening to Rap | Never repeat the language. You can rap along with the song but not the off-limit words. If you don’t know what the rapper is talking about, you shouldn’t sing along with it and do a little research.
There is a time and a place for rap music. Know when and where that is. It’s typically not going to fly in grandma’s car.
Be aware of your surroundings and who else is around and can hear it. If you want to know what something is, ask me and I’ll tell you if I think you’re ready to hear it.
Best Rap Music to Get Your Tween To Open Up
This rap playlist has a lot of older songs and few newer songs that I wanted to use to chat about certain things with my son.
Yes, there is an aggressive amount of Beastie Boys on here. Most kids really like it. Roses was included because it says the word “poopoo” and I knew my 9-year-old would really like that.
And don’t forget that on Through the Wire, Kanye’s jaw was wired shut from a bad accident. If that’s not teaching your kids perseverance, I don’t know what is!
It’s not that these songs are good on their own. It’s that I relate to them in some way or know there is a message within the song that I think we need to be talking about.
Of course, there are modern-day rap hits that you can also use, but I’m always looking for ways to get my kids to listen to music from other eras. Can you believe what the “oldies” are considered nowadays! It makes me feel so old!
And yes, someone told me these are white girl rap songs. And I receive that. There are so many more. And as I continue to listen to my son’s favorite songs, we continue with these conversations.
Thank you to Hyundai for letting us try out the 2018 Santa Fe! Is a sound system important to you in your car? I love to drive and listen to custom playlists!
Play the Rap Playlist on Spotify. Be sure to follow me so you can easily listen to all my playlists.
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