As much as no parent wants their kid cursing, the truth is, a lot of us like ratchet music. And while (most) grown folks can separate the sexist, violent, drug-fueled fantasy from reality, it's hard to tell just how much kids internalize the lyrics. Los Angeles- based Amusement Park Entertainment TV kids actually do internalize the messages--and we should be more upset than we are.
The production company, run by brothers Jarrel and Jimmy Smith, created “Kids”, a beautifully shot video of kids playing and then reciting lines from some of the year’s biggest rap songs. They even have one cute little girl rapping those lyrics that cost Rick Ross his Reebok sponsorship and a few girls just saying “twerk” over and over again.
In an email sent to Fastcocreate.com, the brothers said,
"We just wanted to hold up a mirror to the types of messages we pump into our heads all day. We hope this film pushes some of our favorite, super-talented artists to push themselves toward more honest and balanced art. Not cleaner or censored, but honest … if you have 12 songs about money, where are the songs about the things money does NOT fix? Nobody is perfect, but as creatives we can always be honest. Honesty--it's what makes truly great art, great."
By no means are the brothers bashing hip-hop, but they’re right in pointing out that rappers need to do better.
The brothers don’t say anything specifically about the effects of those lyrics on children, but hearing those things come out of kids’ does make you think about what kids are hearing. An entire generation has grown up listening to hip hop (and a lot of funk from earlier decades was raunchy, too); we didn't all grow up to spray women with champagne or kill people. You can be a fan of Lil' Wayne without being a misogynist in your own life. Besides, in some of the scenes, it doesn’t seem as though the kids actually know the songs by heart. It seems like someone’s feeding them the nasty lines; those scenes are a little easier to ignore. It’s toward the end when one of the older boys delivers the bars the same way they sound on the record that you worry. Do these kids know what they’re saying and what’s worse—them understanding or them thinking they’re just having fun?
How do you decide what music your kids listen to? Watch the video below and let us know what you think.