Kid-Appropriate Rap or Hip-Hop?

My son got a CD player as a present this year and I would like to give or make him a CD to listen to. He says he really like rap and hip-hop music. He’s 11, and I won’t give him anything that’s violent or racist or sexist or drug-positive, and I prefer to have few if any words that would be bleeped out on TV, but I still want him to be able to listen to some music he likes. Rap was never my thing, but I remember listening to some when it first hit big and it was all about addressing social injustice, and the beats were awesome. Now it seems it’s all just about a style that I thoroughly disagree with, with no substance at all. I really hope I’m wrong. It doesn’t have to be current, although current would be great. I don’t care if I like the music or not, either- just so it doesn’t promote stuff I don’t want to encourage in his life.
Dang, I feel like an old fart. Kids these days, with their craaaazy loud music grumble mumble…

You could give him a Will Smith CD, but he’ll quickly realize that your taste in music sucks and he’ll find his own music. My parents tried to control what I listened to at that age, but it was very easy to find the good stuff despite them. And this was before the age of free downloads. I suggest you find out what he actually likes and give it to him. Then hope that he doesn’t take all his social cues from his entertainment; if he does, you’re screwed anyway.

How nerdy is your son? Nerdcore musicians like MC Frontalot are generally more kid-appropriate in their subject matter and outlook, and they’re sometime educational in addition to being lots of fun.

While I’m a diehard Frontalot fan, I would limit the recommendation to some of his music. Front, and other nerdcore rappers, while not as bad as most of the mainstream rap, are not averse to profanity or subject matter that is inappropriate for younger listeners. Lyric inspection highly recommended.

ETA: Fortunately, Frontalot’s web site provides the lyrics to all of his songs.

My husband is getting a Frontalot T-shirt for Xmas :slight_smile: I was hoping to get something that he might already be familiar with, but I guess that’s not going to happen.
I’m not trying to control his music. I’m controlling what I tell him I approve of, and who I give my money to and support. He can listen to whatever on his own. I was hoping for a middle road.

Jurassic 5 are terrifically talented rappers, they generally have a positive message, and while there may a little swearing it’s pretty mild as far as I can recall. Give Contribution or What’s Golden a listen.

Not a big fan of any kind of rap here, at all. But here’s one that I find not only worth watching and listening to, but also family-friendly.

Weren’t De La Soul known for being positive and not having much swearing? That might be something to look into.

The first hip-hop song I liked was Atmosphere’s If I Was Santa Claus. It has good lyrics that are family friendly.

Your son is probably too old for this, but there was a children’s hip hop project called Baby Loves Hip Hop, by Dino 5, which was a group of well established, highly respected hip hop artists (Prince Paul, Charli 2na, Lady Bug Mecca, Wordsworth, ursula rucker, de la soul). I think it’s greatly entertaining, but your son may find it too childish.

Arrested Development generally have a positive message, avoid swearing, and are highly spiritual and humanitarian.
K-os avoids swearing (mostly), makes fun of bling bling hip hop quite often, and is generally pretty philosophical (and he experiments musically, often veering away from the typical “hip hop” sound). While I do get the impression he’s all for recreational marijuana use, he doesn’t seem to be an overt advocate (ie-his songs don’t glorify or flaunt its use to the best of my recollection).
Digable Planets is just plain groovy, and they keep the swearing to a minimum as well.

The two Flobots singles I heard, “No Handlebars” and “Rise”, were both excellent and clean.

Do you really care if it’s not racist and sexist, or is it just about not having swear words? If you want to expose your son to hip hop that is interesting and innovative and intelligent but contains plenty of naughty words, there’s a whole lot of music out there. But if you want music that is sanitized and doesn’t contain a single n-word, you’re going to be pretty limited in your selections.

I would suggest Lupe Fiasco to start off with.

I’m less concerned with swearing than I am with what they’re talking about.
That said, it’s relevant to mention that my son is currently in a sub-acute children’s mental health facility for his uncontrollable violent behavior, some of which includes screaming whatever pops into his mind as getting him attention. He is honestly confused when he calls a staff member a dirty ni@@er and a black girl nearby (who he was not talking to) gets upset and hits him. He has no idea what it means, except that it gets a reaction. We’ve tried explaining but he just doesn’t get it.
So it’s not just me being prissy. It’s mostly me being concerned for his safety, while trying to give him something of what he wants.

Gym Class Heroes.

I’d recommend artists like Common, A Tribe Called Quest, and Panacea, as well as seconding the Digable Planets vote.