As I grew up in the 90’s, I sat front row as Hip Hop dominated radio, TV and fashion. In exchange for my grade school uniform, I begged for fresh Nike’s, colorful Karl Kani and mix tapes. Regardless if my parents understood, the shift from Disney to Dr. Dre was clear. I loved it – they hated it, but in their defense, they never denied me from listening to it. Although in 5th grade, I was the only one walking around singing the censored version of U.N.I.T.Y, I respected my parents compromise and thanked them for embracing what I took a liking to.
Hip Hop took on many forms and opened opportunities for people in different areas. I so happen to work for the legendary Hip Hop photographer, Jonathan Mannion. His images have graced over 300 of the most iconic album covers. Anywhere from Wu Tang to The Game, Outkast to Jay Z; he has given us access to see how Hip Hop is expressed from all corners of the U.S. He also owns the largest archive of images documenting the entire movement going back as far as 1994.
The music speaks for itself. We know how each region moves to the beats, interprets fashion and how they have added to what was once mistaken as a fad. All this to say, there is NOW history in Hip Hop.
Today, I am 35 years old and a mother of 2 boys, who like their parents, are in the slow transition from that same Disney culture and moving into the Drizzy Drake era. We love watching them learn new moves and sing the catchy hooks, but more so, we love educating them on the culture. Knowing how to Milly Rock is great, but can your kid also drop hooks from yesteryear?
Just as I sit in a Wonderland of images from my favorite rappers, my husband and I feel passionate that they know our favorites too. So, finding a children’s book dedicated to teaching the staples x 2 is a win – win. Together in the book, “A, B to Jay Z”, you have the rare opportunity to start your child’s early learning of the alphabet and lyricists!
With pages covered with beautiful pastel illustrations, you can skip from B for Biggie to O for Outkast. My recommendation: make a censored playlist with your favorite songs and really get them going. We have nothing but love for this new found classic and have already shared it with the boys. It’s awesome to see them recognize Snoop Dogg, cause let’s be real – it’s Snoop Dogg! How many 2017 1st graders get to know him as the Martha Stewart co-host and not the iconic plant connoisseur. You know what I mean!
We have full control of what we want them to know, and can start the conversation as young as preschool. It’s almost undeniable that my kids are going to grow up Hip Hop heads. It’s in their DNA. But, what I do have control over is how they interpret it. What’s acceptable, respectable and allowed. With that said, they already know the first rule, IF I can’t understand the song and all I hear is mumbling, don’t play it! (LOL)
“The Little Homie, First Steps to Street Cred” helps identify true game changers, the pages are lined from Tupac, Eminem, Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice – okay, pause…he did his thing and we have to give him credit for it. Also, a HUGE favorite, because I’m bias and it’s my blog so I can say it, the ONLY female to make the book is NOT Hip Hop but certainly contributes….Can you guess? The Queen of the Beyhive herself. Yup, his and her pages! I mean, it made me happy.
As you can imagine this is quite a piece of work and for urban parents who are as involved with the culture as I am, it’s a definite NEED in my kid’s home library. I honestly believe, if I didn’t have kids, I would have bought it anyway. Just like the million Disney movies my kids inherited the second they were born.
If you want to be the “lit” parents, and I do believe I can still say lit…I recommend you head over and preorder your book TODAY.
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Also, check out the video and preview the book for yourself!