Dear Rap Music,
I've been known to "throw my hands in the air and wave 'em like I just don't care." I used to hit up your shows and you could often "find me in the club, bottle full of bub," where, if your beat thumped enough and your hook looped just right, I could be enticed to "jump motherf*cker, jump motherf*cker jump." And while I've never really been "down with O.P.P.," I do "like big butts and I cannot lie..." And man, those days were the days.
But now that I have two daughters, two centers of the Universe, these are not those days.
I am breaking up with you, Rap Music, and it's not you, it's me. And it's also, kind of, you.
It's your rampant misogyny, homie. It is an epidemic. Your unapologetic sexism is a scourge on an otherwise exceptional cultural phenomenon. A movement I used to wear proudly on the sleeve of my Turbo/Ozone parachute suit while spinning on my back on the cardboard refrigerator boxes my mom brought home for the neighborhood kids to krush grooves and bust a move on. But the game has changed. Since falling headspins-over-heelkicks for the love of my life, that life is no longer about "getting my freak on." And since becoming a SAHD of daughters, cash no longer "rules everything around me." Frozen does. Dora does.
My oldest daughter is only 3, but she is a rosebud. Every day she grows closer to womanhood and every day I am made aware of another biological anomaly or aspect of gender-nature. Just last month, at the playground by our house, a little boy approached and in some brief but instantaneous fit of glee, my daughter turned to me, face a-bloom, and said,
"Dada, he's noiiiiiiice!"
Probably a benign assertion, but thought-provoking none the less. And I've gotta worry about this little boy in his Dada's car, radio cranked up to the tune of "I I I I could BEEP you all the tiiii-i-i-iime." Sure, it all comes down to individual parental responsibility, but that's what I'm doing here, taking responsibility for my music choices. I will NOT have my daughters subconsciously, or euphoniously, convinced that "b*tches ain't sh*t but hoes and tricks."
And to all the young suitors who will undoubtedly cross my daughters' paths, I will have you know a few things:
- I don't care if it's her birthday or "yo birfday"; "shawty" will not be "go go going" anywhere but the jumpy house in our own backyard, for now, and if you choose to forgo "Happy Birthday" for crooning about your "Magic Stick," you'd better be the guy in the Gandalf getup passing goodies out to the party-goers. My girls are golden, and must be cherished accordingly.
- You will NOT be "making it rain" around my girls unless you are a sprinkler technician. No offense to the woman that do it for art or necessity, but there will be no pole dancing in this family unless it is this kind. My girls are pillars of spirit and character and must be endeared accordingly.
- And when my girls grow into those bright beacons of kindness and compassion that I know they will be and the suitors undoubtedly come a-knockin, just know that my daughters will NOT be "riding dirty" with you. Especially if you are "on that good kush and alcohol," in which case they will NOT be one of your "down b*thes [you] can call." My girls shine and must be appreciated accordingly.
You feel me, rap music? Believe me, I appreciatecha as an art form, but how about showing a little respect for the majesty and wonder of the opposite sex? Sure, you "ball so hard," I get it. But, "you need to crawl 'fore you ball/come and meet me in the bathroom stall?" You said it yourself, "that sh*t cray!"
To be clear, there are several distinctions to be made between rap music with its ignorant, lazy and egregious use of the B-word (and other disparaging, anti-female language) to color titles and lyrics (rappers using their Mama-given talents to degrade and endanger those very same mamas) and the highly creative, often educational, occasionally brilliant and sometimes soul-moving storytelling that is true hip-hop music, a genre that I have championed. A culture that I've held close to my heart for decades.
So, as for the former, as a new dad of daughters, Rap Music, I just can't do you no more.
Ciao for now,
P.S. This may not be forever. Hopefully, someday, you will realize the error of your ways, or the pop culture scales will tip and start to favor a more enlightened approach to hit making. I will still check in on you from time to time. I'll be forever curious to see how you are doing. Might even meet you in the car some late night to rehash old memories and get our head-knock on together. But till then, adieu old friend. For the sake of my daughters, I've got to kick you to the curb.
Follow Mike Heenan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AHDMatters