We have a guest blogger today! Brad is a friend of mine from church. I've enjoyed watching him grow in the last several years. I was friends with his mom first - we sing together on our Worship Team. Brad is a retired hip hop artist - took retirement for marriage and kids. I love this post from him!
“So to all you kids all across the land/There’s no need to argue, parents just don’t understand.” – Will Smith aka The Fresh Prince
These lyrics were printed on a sheet of paper and taped to the outside of my bedroom door as a kid. At the time, it was an act of defiance. A snarky (and I thought clever) way to tell my Mom and Dad that they could not control what genre of music I enjoyed. If memory serves me correctly, I posted the sign immediately after my mom confiscated my Ice Cube “The Predator” cassette tape. Fast forward 20 years later and I am now a father of a 2-month old baby boy and a Step-Father to a 14 year old boy (err man?) and a 11 (going on 25) year old girl. I think back to that sign I so proudly displayed on my bedroom door and try to let it serve as a reminder for how I felt at their age, specifically, when it comes to music.
So, full disclosure: I’m a 30 year old Caucasian, middle-class male with red hair. Just screams hip-hop lover, doesn’t it? There are some things in life that just reach us in ways that really can’t be explained. Hip-hop music is one of those things for me. As an adolescent, the passion of the music and the culture spoke to me. I felt that I had to constantly defend the music that I loved to those around me who wondered how in the world a white kid from the north-side of Indianapolis, Indiana could possibly relate to the messages being presented in rap lyrics. What grabbed me at a young age was the raw emotion and power of the culture. It was a movement. It was a means for escape.
If you ask my mother, I’m sure she will admit to feeling a bit uneasy (to say the least) about my love for hip-hop music growing up. The uneasiness wasn’t just due to the explicit content or the baggy clothes. I don’t think she feared that I would one day drop out of school, join a gang and become a convicted felon. I believe the uneasiness came into play when she had to wonder how hip-hop music would influence my development. As a parent you do your best to teach your kids right and wrong. You give advice, you lead by example and you give them the love and resources they need to succeed. At some point, it’s up to them to choose their own path. Thankfully, the foundation she and my father laid out for me was one that allowed me to channel my love for hip-hop in a positive way. It was and continues to be an avenue I use to mature and grow. It has given me a sense of perspective on life that I would otherwise not have had.
Now that I’m a parent and admittedly losing contact with what is current and new in the music world, I want to make a conscious effort to support my kids’ taste in music. I want to engage in conversations with them about what they enjoy listening to and what certain songs mean to them. I want to encourage them to explore all different kinds of music so that they might find what is out there that can touch their lives. Will I find myself alone in the car belting out a Katy Perry tune or go for a run with Taylor Swift in my headphones? No. But that doesn’t mean I have to discount what it means to my kids. Just because I can’t relate to it, doesn’t mean they don’t. I know first-hand the kind of power a connection with music can bring and it is certainly something I want my kids to experience. Music can give you a voice. It can provide exactly the right words at exactly right time. It can create memories. It can inspire.
I vow to not be the old guy who thinks that nothing is as good as it used to be. That doesn’t mean I won’t sneak in some Eminem or Notorious B.I.G. when in control of the stereo and they have nowhere to go. Hey, what goes around comes around and I’m thankful to this day for the music my father introduced to me. Especially now that I can truly comprehend the meaning of the message. I vow to use music as a way to connect with my children. I’m sure they will find other reasons to put their own signs on their bedroom doors.
And if you'd like a little insight into Brad's music, check this out: