20 essential hip-hop songs to pass to your kids


From Juicy to Mama Said Knock You Out these are the joints your kids ought to know…. 

Part 1

Having a kid is a beautiful thing; it’s a gift having someone you can bestow knowledge upon. A child is someone you can share life experiences with, play catch with–literally watch them grow from babies to kids to teens to adults. It’s all very beautiful. The thing I’m most excited to share with my kids is my love and passion for hip-hop. I want to share with them the songs and artists that made me love rap music. I want to share the albums that made me appreciate the culture. Therefore, I compiled a list of songs that I would play for my own child. I imagine we would have vivid conversation about the culture and where it was during the time the song was released… but just like with any child, my words would go in one ear and out the other–but at least I could sleep well knowing I tried to put my kids on to some fire.


Notorious BIG – Juicy

This song is definitely one of Biggie’s best. This was a song I turned to during many dark times in my kid/teen life. Might I add the production is on point.  BIG was one of the best at making his lyrical content match the beat. You can vividly see every word as soon as it comes out of his mouth and reaches your ears. This is a great pick me up for any kid with dreams and aspirations.


Nas – I Can

Not one of my favorite Nas songs honestly, but when I was a kid I loved it! I felt like he was speaking directly to me and my peers. Nas is another rapper who is a marvelous story teller. With “I Can” he channeled his inner teacher and challenged what was a drug and Cristal fueled rap game to speak on history and self- knowledge.  Great teaching moment for you and your seed.


Jay-Z – Anything

Fresh off the hard-hitting <em>Annie</em> sampled “Hard Knock Life,” Jay turns to
another American classic musical <em>Oliver</em>, for his hook and loop samples in “Anything”. This song showcases a more vulnerable side of Hov, with him referencing his nieces and nephews. Jay has a lot of solid points about life and friendship in this song. This song has great energy and bounce. Ipt’s a cool one to sing along with the kids.


2 Pac – Dear Mama

Do I even need to explain?


Kanye West – Hey Mama

I refer to this song as Kanye’s version of “Dear Mama”. No, it is nowhere near Pac’s, but it is great. This song offers a different view point as far as dedication to mamas go. This song is a little more personable to me than “Dear Mama” and other millennials may feel the same.  The production is simply fantastic and I mean come on–who could hate on another dedication to mama. A great one to teach your kids about appreciation for mama.


Public Enemy – Fight the Power

As a kid, my father was very choosy about what rappers he let me listen to. P.E. was one of the few he let get to my young ears. For all you “woke” parents, this song should be in the starter kit of your little hip-hop head. You should play this and show the movie counterpart, “Do the Right Thing”. A great way to start a conversation with your kids about being socially responsible and involved in their community and knowing what’s going on in the world.


LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

When your child starts playing sports, this is the song you must play on the way to every single game. This is also a great song to play for your kid in order to explain rap beef in layman’s terms for them. Plus, every up-coming hip-hop head should know about LL and his legendary style that changed the dynamic of hip-hop for years to come.


Kurtis Blow – The Breaks

I’m really not big on early 80’s hip-hop but this seven-minute jam that is “The Breaks” is one of the greatest early hip-hop songs in history. It’s good for a nice little jam session in the car with you and your little one. It’s also cool for Saturday morning clean up.


Ice Cube – A Bird in The Hand

This is the hardest song on the first half of this list. There is a lot to explain in this song to your kid. I would suggest you wait until they’re about high school aged to break this one out, with the references to drugs and government. The production on this song is stellar and it showcases Cube’s storytelling strength.


A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It

“Can I kick It” is another bouncy energetic song that I loved as a kid that should definitely be passed on–very jazzy. Any future hip-hop head should definitely know about Tribe. If it wasn’t for them a lot of your favorite artist wouldn’t be who they are today.

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