Mathew Knowles' 23-month-old grandson — whose mother is Beyoncé's younger sister, Solange — is already a hip-hop fan.
"When he hears a rap, he goes nuts, dancing and saying the lyrics,"
said Knowles, who manages his daughters and runs a record label, Music World Entertainment.
It's cute to watch, except for one problem. "As a grandfather, I'm very concerned about what my grandson is saying," Knowles said.
With that in mind, the mogul created Kid's Rap Radio, a new album series featuring hip-hop singles remade with cleaned-up lyrics rapped by kids.
"Kidz Bop has had this concept for years and has used some Destiny's Child and Beyoncé records, so it's always stayed on my mind," Knowles explained. "Now, having a grandson, I have an opportunity to make a mark. And if you look at the Kidz Bop compilations, none of them are hip-hop — they're all either pop or R&B."
Kid's Rap Radio, Volumes 1 & 2, scheduled to be released together in double-disc form on November 21, will feature hits such as "Touch It," "Shake Ya Tailfeather" and "Right Thurr."
"We give them the thumping music but change the content so it's parent-friendly, teacher-friendly and you feel good about your kids at that young age listening and repeating the lyrics," Knowles said.
Not everyone feels good about the series, however. Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, called Kid's Rap Radio a "bad idea."
"What this would do is get the kid used to the song, and then when the real stuff comes, wow — they're going to be even more in tune with the [original version of the] song," Peters said. "Really, this has a lot of parallels to what the tobacco industry was doing before Congress cracked down, and that's packaging an adult product to make it more appealing to children."
The Parent Teacher Association, meanwhile, supports the series. "[It] certainly provides families and fans — young and old alike — with alternatives they can consider listening to," Director of Communications Judi Myers wrote in an e-mail.
"What goes into a 2-year-old is based on what a parent decides, so I don't see a risk here," he said. "We're not trying to change the marketplace. If you go to any hip-hop artist, they're not going to say they wrote a song for a 2-year-old. If they did, I want to set up a meeting with them."
A scan of the Kid's Rap Radio lyrics shows they have been significantly modified. The lyrics to the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)," for example, have been altered to be about sneakers:
"Hey, how you doing everybody, let me whisper in your ear/ Tell you about these kicks that I like to wear/ I got some new Allen I's and Lebron James Zooms/ Tryin' to get enough so I can fill up my room/ Standing in the closet I don't know what to pick/ I could wear G-Units instead of Michael Vicks ... just wait till you see my kicks."
Needless to say, this version deviates considerably from the song's original, highly suggestive lyrics — the chorus of which mentions a part of the male anatomy instead of "kicks."
In order to make the changes, Knowles went through the proper channels and received permission from the rappers.
"The artists have been very supportive," he said. "A lot of them have kids themselves, so they understand. It's actually establishing hip-hop to kids at a very young age. That's the positive [aspect]. Hopefully we get some rappers of the future out of this."
Along with Kid's Rap Radio, Volumes 1 & 2, Music World will also release Kid's Rap Christmas on November 21.
Track list for Kid's Rap Radio, Volumes 1 & 2 and Kid's Rap Christmas, according to Music World:
- "D Beck Intro"
- "Lil Bit"
- "Back Then"
- "Wait (The Whisper Song)"
- "Shorty Wanna Ride"
- "Go DJ"
- "Can't Stop Won't Stop"
- "Shake Ya Tailfeather"
- "If I Can't Do It"
- "Right Thurr"
- "D'iablo Intro"
- "It's Goin' Down"
- "What U Know About That"
- "Laffy Taffy"
- "Outta Control"
- "Touch It"
- "Fresh Azimiz"
Kid's Rap Christmas
- "Steve Is Christmas Rappin' "
- "Still Christmas in Hollis"
- "He's Santa No Doubt"
- "Steve Walsh Is Coming to Town"
- "I Wish You All Love"
- "Jingle Bells Rock"
- "Christmas Went Hip-Hop"
- "Young Santa"
- "What Christmas Is All About"
- "Spit the Real on Christmas"
- "Rap the Gift"