I really love my kids. I also really love hip-hop music.
Sadly, just like the winner and runner-up of The Bachelor, these loves can’t exist safely in the same room. As I spend most of my time with my kids, this means that I don’t listen to as much rap music as I used to. I love the grit and history of rap, but I don’t feel comfortable with my kids hearing lyrics that are full of swear words and adult content.
Without rap constantly blasting from my car stereo or from speakers at home, I feel like I’m missing a part of myself – the part of myself that won’t take anyone’s bullshit, who will stand up for herself aggressively and will stomp on a man’s heart and fingers. This is but one of many ways that life with kids has made me a little more mellow – which isn’t always something I’m comfortable with. The absence of beats and spoken lyrics has left me feeling a little disconnected from my inner badass.
My love for rap started when I was twelve, when I listened to Salt-N-Pepa’s 1993 album Very Necessary. While mostly famous for the hits Shoop and Whatta Man, this album opened my eyes to what Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella) experienced as young black women in 1990’s America. There were lyrics about drugs, domestic violence, unreliable partners and of course, sex. I discovered that music and hip-hop could be a powerful way to raise awareness and impact the world (it was largely thanks to Salt-N-Pepa that kids of the 90’s learnt about condoms and safe sex), and that women of colour could have a voice.
Before Very Necessary, most of the female pop stars I knew of were white, and sang about things that were demure and safe. I was so into Salt-N-Pepa as a kid that I would rap in the car – unsuccessfully of course, as my parents would ask why I was talking to myself.
As I grew up, rap helped me to access a strength that I didn’t have for myself, whether it was during a bad breakup, career uncertainty or an at-risk pregnancy. It helped me to get into the zone. Rap has had a huge influence on me as a writer, both in terms of the rhythms and the words themselves.
When my daughter was a newborn, I was still pumping rap from my car stereo. This time, it was Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album. I knew that my days of listening to lyrics such as “I want a wife who fucks me like a prostitute” (um, he is he talking about BEYONCE?!) were numbered, so I soaked up the beats while I could.
Now, I am more likely to listen to The Wiggles or the My Little Pony movie soundtrack in the car, mostly because I can’t be bothered to deal with the screams of protest when I change it to ‘Mummy’s Music’.
And ‘Mummy’s Music’ is free of swear-words, because little kids hear everything – and they also love to ask questions.
View this post on Instagram