Last week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Kanye West performed his song “Bound 2” live with a children’s choir singing back-up. For those who don’t know, this is not a song that includes family-friendly lyrics.
At the end of August, Miley Cyrus twerking and performing Cirque de Soleil tricks with her tongue at the Video Music Awards lit the Internet on fire. But Yeezy making sleazy in front of a bunch of ten year olds didn’t get an admonishing tweet. Why? Because it was aired on late night? Because he’s a black man living up to certain stereotypes? Or could it be because the kids were black boys, a demographic we don’t worry about too much in this country? I’m thinking all of the above.
I am actually a fan of Kanye, and have even… well, not defended the misogyny on his album Yeezus, but not found it that upsetting. He’s not the first rapper to talk about such things. As a middle schooler, me and my friends would listen to Two Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which at the time set the bar for most sexually explicit rap lyrics. This is the album that includes the hip-hop classic “Me So Horny.”
Today I still listen to and love hip-hop, and so does my four-year-old son, Felix. I can’t listen to rock for too long before he says, “put on something with a bigger beat.” But like most kids, he’s all ears, and so I censor some of what I play. No matter how infectious I find the sample, I avoid songs like Kanye’s “Bound 2” because it’s too explicit. Songs that drop an f-bomb or three, that’s ok. We live in New York, and it’s impossible to walk down the street without hearing curse words. But sexually explicit lyrics are something I feel the need to keep from him for now.
This got me thinking. What were some of the things that I used to do as a kid, but which I now worry about as a parent? Listening to explicit rap music is one. Click on to find out more…