If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you probably had a hard time believing there would eventually come an age where moms would be supportive or even actively participating in hip-hop. Back in the day, mothers and rap primarily led to yells from basements to turn that cussin’ racket down, and even today rap is still sometimes seen as a bad influence on kids (although the people still holding that view are mostly Faux News’ core audience) that should preferably be curtailed wherever possible. Still, with rap claiming its stake in mainstream pop culture it’s inevitable rap acts would rise to get the parental cosign. Here are ten rappers your mom might approve of and their corresponding approval rating.
Drake is for the ladies. I’m not saying the holders of both X and Y chromosomes can’t enjoy his music, but let’s not pretend they’re his core audience. When Drake isn’t talking directly to a member of the fairer sex, he’s talking about a member of the fairer sex, or on the topic of, but his music is not limited to the fairer sex. So, while mom might not be too happy with the thought of her own baby girls listening to the heartthrob, she knows all too well what Drake is talking about, and getting at. Drake is as macho as a teddy bear compared to other rappers, but if she does, mom only listens when the lights are down and the kids are in bed.
De La Soul
De La Soul are the frontrunners of the Daisy Age of rap, and their unthreatening friendly demeanor and varied intelligently delivered topics could potentially make them fall snugly into the matronly-approved category. Their biggest hits are from the 90s (not counting their collaborations with Gorillaz). And though they never dropped off in quality, they’re far from a staple of the current pop music landscape. If your mom is familiar with De La Soul it’s probably because she has at least a passing knowledge of rap and is somewhat of a hip-hop head already, and if she digs De La Soul, she has good taste in it as well.
The archetypal mom-rapper. Will doesn’t cuss, has a charismatic smile, a polite demeanor and he even raps about his family. “Non-threatening” could very will be applied as one of the most defining characteristics of Will’s post-Fresh Prince rap career. His ubiquitous media presence as a highly succesful Hollywood actor makes sure everybody in the world recognizes his face, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t like it. For bonus-points, he’s one of the few Hollywood big shots able to keep a marriage together. In short, Will Smith is the perfect son-in-law and a role model to boot. “Parents just don’t understand” but Will understands parents very well.
Common refrains from overly masculine posturing and degrading language towards women. His philosophical and spiritual musings coupled with his political activism make him a role model parents can get behind while his rebellious streak towards the status quo still give him a certain ‘cool-factor.’ Your mom might know him as that nice, well-spoken man who rubs shoulders with the Obama’s. Well, unless she watches certain news channels that, while furiously grasping at straws, try their hardest to paint him as some kind of domestic terrorist.
Wiz Khalifa is proof lyrics are largely inconsequential to hit rap records nowadays. Coasting on auto-pilot throughout his major label debut, Rolling Papers, and currently enjoying a worldwide hit record with Snoop, people barely notice the unapologetic weed anthems’ actual content. Call it the Bruno Mars Touch, a curse which makes idiotic lyrics bounce around inside your skull for days on end, a sensation loathed by some, but apparently enjoyed by many others. Once mom actually stops to wonder for a second what she’s been singing along with, her opinion on that slim kid with the unthreatening, slick pop sound may start to differ. “So what we smoke weeeeeed…”
Sure, Pac was a “rebel of the underground” who didn’t hesitate to threaten his adversaries in the most vicious battle tracks ever laid to wax, but he loved and honored his mom as well. Despite being portrayed as a vile thug in the media (everything but an artist) in the media, that one song made your mom have a soft spot for the guy. What works better than the hardcore rapper unafraid to show his softer side and give some attention to his mom in one of his biggest hits? “You are appreciated” buys a lot of good will, and your phone call will never beat this. Pac was a good son, that’s how your mom remembers him.
a Tribe Called Quest
Much like their Native Tongues cohorts De La Soul, a Tribe Called Quest didn’t follow the gangster or hardcore styles that were popular during their time. The Native Tongues movement built their own aesthetic based on staying true to self, enjoying what you do and a few healthy doses of Pan-Africanism and jazz. Tribe quickly became the most public of the acts in the collective but your mom will have to be a serious hip-hop head to have much affinity for them. Their drums slapped, their basslines were infectious and Phife Dawg didn’t steer clear of dropping a less than sensitive innuendo-filled line here or there. Moms might not fully approve of their young’uns rapping along to “bust a nut into ya eye, to show you where I come from”. Yeah.
Wale made a name for himself on thought-provoking mixtapes filled with wordplay and uneasy topics. Your mom never heard those though, as Wale reinvented himself as a sensitive ladies man/playalistic hustler/young go-getter/stripper-tipping party-rapper when he signed to Rick Ross his Maybach Music Group label. It finally granted him his much sought after hit records outside of his internet-audience. Yes, Wale is a succesful pop-rapper now, but a completely vanilla one who’s core audience seems to simply be the most common denominator.
“Oh, that’s Beyonce’s husband, right? He’s such a snappy dresser, and I like that song he rapped on her album. They seem like a very nice couple, I’m sure he’ll be a fine father. I heard he’s a great business-man as well! What’s that you say? He made a song called ‘Money, Cash, Hoes‘? And Big Pimpin’? No dear, that can’t be, I’m sure you’re thinking of someone else.”
Missy Elliott is one of the most succesful female rappers around. Famed for her dance moves, her confidence and sense of self-worth despite not looking like the default model of the female pop-icon (read: being a couple sizes bigger), she’s both a positive role model and a woman capable of crafting dancefloor-filling hit records. She’s far from the most intricate of lyricists and her anthemic raps are largely filled with harmless party-starting calls. Nothing to get worked up over, much to enjoy. Just don’t tell mom what the play on words in her album title ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ was about or she’ll think your popping pills all weekend.
Your mom got a different favorite? Holla @ the comments section.