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Exploring Fatherhood Through Hip Hop

As I return from a long and unexcused hiatus on the blog, I figured what better way to make a comeback than with one of the themes with which this blog was started, hip hop music.  For those readers who aren’t into hip hop, I am guessing you may have a negative opinion of it based upon what the mainstream media sells to kids as “hip hop” these days, and I don’t blame you at all.  I do ask that you stay with me, however, as there’s much more to hip hop than what you may see.  Follow along as I discuss three hip hop songs that I feel emulate the power of fatherhood in different but equally effective ways.  This will come as a surprise to nobody who knows me…I’m staying with local artists from Massachusetts.  As I went through the possibilities, I discovered that fatherhood is covered in hip hop much more than I had realized.  I’ve already given immense love to Edo.G and his song “Be a father to your child” on this blog, including naming the blog after the first line of the song, so we’re going with other songs this time around, from artists that are worthy of the shine.  Please click on the links and listen to the songs as you read along to get the full effect.

First up is Daniel Laurent, AKA DL, a longstanding respected artist from Boston.  He broke out onto the scene with his song “MASSterpiece”, famous for it’s sample of the Cheers theme song in the beat.  His appeal is in his genuine and honest lyrics, which touch a range of subjects, backed by an equally broad range of beats that span from hard hitting to soulful, depending on what the mood for the song requires.  In his song “Lovin’ You,” DL sets it off with a verse about mothers, so as not to be neglectful of them, and then unleashes his heartfelt salute to fatherhood in verse two.  DL’s positive and uplifting verse offers both encouragement for, and expectation of, fathers.  He acknowledges both the benefits of fatherhood and validates the challenges before giving the ultimate message of the importance and impact of being involved.  My favorite gem he delivers goes “It don’t matter what your title weighs, rapper, doctor, cab driver, your kid loves you anyway.”  It serves as a reminder that no matter what our adult lives are like, where we stand, or what our stressors are, when we are with our kids, we’re all just “daddy,” and we can be looked up to regardless.

When outsiders think of Cambridge, Massachusetts, they probably think of M.I.T. and “pahking the cahh at Hahvahd Yahd.”  But as well as Cambridge is known for it’s educational prominence and affluence, there’s another side to the city as well, and that is where the duo IroQ and John D.O.E. hail from.  In contrast to DL as the present father in “Lovin You”, their song “My Life” (fair warning, the lyrics here are harsher than the other songs) shows the importance of fatherhood from a different, but just as important angle.  The story is one that has been told before in media, of the boy with the absent father who gets sucked into the street life.  However, what IroQ and John D.O.E. do better than anyone (in my opinion) is create emotion through their music.  Good music has the ability to make us feel a certain way.  Some songs have a happy vibe, some are upbeat and create an energy that helps us get through a workout, and some are introspective and make us think.  In this case, I felt angry at the father, which of course was their intent.  In my career, I work with kids and teens, and I’ve come across many kids with absent fathers.  Their situations vary widely, from kids in trouble with the juvenile justice system to kids making straight A’s in school, but the anger and confusion described in the song is a common feeling.  By porting this so vividly, IroQ and John D.O.E. make the strongest statement of how fathers impact their children’s lives negatively by their absence.  However, this isn’t just a “F-you, absent dad” verse, as John also steps into his dad’s head and predicts the pain his dad likely feels when he thinks of the son he doesn’t have a relationship with.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

Last up is Ea$y Money, most well known as a member of ST. the Squad, a group he started with Termanology when they were teenagers. They are both grown up now, and while Term has a longer resume at this point, Ea$y has dropped some classic mix tapes, and I expect nothing but big things from him now that he’s officially aligned with Term in Statik Selektah’s show off camp. I don’t have too much to say about the song “Biggest Mistake,” (featuring Lee Wilson) because it speaks so well for itself.  That being said, there are two lasting gems here: The first is Ea$y’s story of how being a father has changed his life, and a reminder that fatherhood is one of those things where you get from it what you give to it. As much of an impact as we can have in our kids’ lives, they can also have on ours.  The second is the way he takes responsibility for his past mistakes in the song.  It’s something we all need to do better and role model for our kids.

Now it’s your turn: What did you think of these songs?  What other hip hop songs have a strong fatherhood message? Leave a comment and if I get enough, I’ll review them in a future post.

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