Manila Folders

March 3, 2019

Wholesome Rap Music For Kids

Kidz Bop debuted in 2001, and to this day they’ve never dipped lower than number 2 on the weekly Billboard Kids Albums list. Growing up, however, I never found myself particularly interested in this genre of pop music sung by children. Although now as an adult without any kids, I find this niche genre very interesting. Not necessarily Kidz Bop, but rather music that’s intended for kids, however, I’ve always felt like something was missing here.

This interest I suspect stems from my early fascination with They Might Be Giants (TMBG), an indie/alt rock band that has found success in their adult music (that sounds kind of weird but you get what I mean?) and music for children and theme songs. Kidz Bop always struck me as strange because, despite being covers of current hits, the music always felt dumbed down, but perhaps that’s exactly why. The filtering of music through kids never sat well with me. That’s why I was drawn to the music TMBG were producing because it was experimental, quirky, fun, and most of all original.

While I’ve always been interested in TMBG, I can’t help but wonder if their music lacks a certain maturity or even a stylistic difference that I’m interested in hearing in music geared towards kids.

In Folder 004, I shared my discovery of hip-hop artist Oddisee, and included his Tiny Desk performance. On that video there was a comment that particularly struck me:

“Finally. Something I can play in the classroom. My students always want to hear hip hop and rap, but I want something melodic and positive. Thanks Oddisee - a class act.”

This was sort of the light bulb moment for me where I realized what I felt TMBG was missing. They have their style and their approach, and I don’t expect and want them to change, but I began to realize that there isn’t much music that is produced for kids with substance that is relevant in style and subject matter.

As I was going down the rabbit hole of researching Oddisee and his music, I came across an interview of him on Dead End Hip Hop. In this interview, around 18:12, Oddisee begins to talk about when he made a consious decision to leave the N-word and cuss words out of his album The Good Fight. He states:

“Hip-hop’s demographic is getting older and we’re having kids that are growing up, and I know homies that want to listen to this stuff in their car with their kids but they can’t.

Oddisee went on to talk about how cussing was actually making him lose money because “clean” songs are licensing friendly because they don’t need to be edited and more radio shows can play it.

The other day I was reminded of Kidz Bop, They Might Be Giants, Oddisee, and that feeling I have that something is missing from kids music when I came across Kids Trap, a series of “wholesome rap music for kids” by Blake Rules and Netherfriends.

While these albums feel relevant and their content is wholesome, they don’t have the substance and diversity I think is missing from kids music or just kid friendly music for that matter. That isn’t to say that I don’t love this idea and some of these songs because I most definitely do! I just can’t help but wonder what a Chance the Rapper kids album or a Migos kids album or a Beyonce kids album would sound like.

If you want to listen through seven kids trap albums, be my guest! But if you don’t want to, I’ve put together a playlist of some of my favorite songs:

You can find these albums on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.