Redux: 'Baby Loves Hip Hop'
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with Day to Day. You know, if you have kids, it's really hard to listen to "Baby Beluga" or "Apples and Bananas" more than mmm, a couple hundred times. Sorry, Rafi. But music producer Andy Hurwitz has made it his mission to bring genres like salsa and jazz from the adult world into the kid world with his "Baby Loves Music" series. Last April, Andy Hurwitz released "Baby Loves Hip Hop," bringing together some major artists from the rap world. When the CD first came out, NPR's Christopher Johnson took the disc on a play date, and here's what happened.
THE DINO-5: (Singing) Here come the, here come the, Here come out the Dino-5…
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: "Baby Loves Hip Hop" is all about helping your preschooler get his or her prehistoric party on. The concept album tells the story - in words and song - of five kid dinosaurs that form a rap group called The Dino-5. Let's meet the crew.
THE DINO-5: (Rapping) Here we come, the Dino-5. T-Rex, you there? Right by your side. Tracy you OK? I'm doing fine. Billy, are you ready? Just give me the sign. But where's Teo? Right here. Yo DJ. Making sure everything is clear. Tracy, T-Rex Billy, Teo DJ. The Dino-5, here we go…
JOHNSON: To form the Dino-5, Andy Hurwitz assembled an A-team of hip-hop veterans. Remember Digable Planets? They took home a Grammy in '94 for a song subtitled "Cool like Dat." Well, their female MC, Ladybug Mecca, is in the house as Tracy Triceratops. Mec remembers when Andy asked her to come on board.
Ms. LADYBUG MECCA (Rap artist): I was with it right away, you know. I've always been wanting to do a kids' album. I have kids of my own. So it was great because I was able to use them, you know, as my little test guys.
JOHNSON: Could the children of a rap pioneer really get down to some "Baby Loves Hip Hop"?
Ms. MECCA: What? Are you kidding? I dance all through the house. We rhyme it together while I'm cooking, while we're cleaning. Oh yeah, everyday. It's not a joke.
Ms. MECCA: (Singing) Let's jump When it's too hot outside we jump in a pool We jump all day and night, and jump after school I love to jump and I can jump for many days Can we jump on mommy's bed and couch? No way. So let's jump…
Mr. ANDY HURWITZ (Music Entrepreneur): It's absolutely child-tested.
JOHNSON: Andy's got kids, too, a 4- and a 6-year-old.
Mr. HURWITZ: They totally loved it. I knew it was on when they started just like randomly rapping the words, you know, out of nowhere.
Mr. PRINCE PAUL: (Singing) With huge teeth and a massive body The other kids whisper when they ask about me. I'm always alone because I'm big and bulky. They think that I'm mean, and their looks insult me. But I look scary and I do eat meat. I've got huge teeth then I got big feet. I got short claws, horse-deep when I speak. But I got a stuffed bunny, and I think that he's neat…
JOHNSON: Andy called on hip hop legend Prince Paul to help put the music together. Paul's been making power moves in the rap world since hip hop itself was preschool age. He's produced for De La Soul, The Rizza(ph), and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reed.
Mr. HURWITZ: Paul can span genres from, you know, from jazz to funk to hip hop. And so you said, kids, it's not a problem for him. And after working with him, you kind of get the feeling he's just a big kid anyway. So I think that comes natural.
THE DINO-5: (Rapping) Hey, why don't you quit all that noise you're making? Those big, old feet, man, they must be aching But, see, with your nasty claws So sharp, when you walk you crawl through the floor. Yeah, you woke up the neighborhood. You move the couch and where the table stood Man, Billy, you can say whatever Your room wasn't that clean I made it look better May your head so…
JOHNSON: "Baby Loves Hip Hop" packs more than musical weight. Slam poetry superstar Ursula Rucker narrates the storyline. She plays a mom reading The Dino-5 bedtime story to a little girl.
Ms. URSULA ROCKER: (Reading) They play dinosaur hip hop a lot after school They really loved the music and thought it was cool…
JOHNSON: But before passing this disc its full props, there was still one question I had to answer. Do the Dino-5's Jurassic jams lock in the attention of a group of preschoolers?
(Soundbite of children)
JOHNSON: I talked my fellow producer Kenya Young into hosting a listening party at her apartment near Los Angeles. She's got a couple of very energetic little boys, and she invited about a half-dozen of their friends over. I came through with the string cheese and juice boxes because you know, we had to get the party started right.
Unidentified Child: Ready.
JOHNSON: Come here.
After a little climbing on the furniture, on me and on each other, everybody settled down, and it was go time for the Dino-5.
(Soundbite of Dino-5 music)
JOHNSON: Now, I'm talking about instant madness. The kids went berserk. Kenya's living room became part mosh pit, part kiddie crunk session. Elbows and legs went flying. Some of the smaller kids became casualties of that high-energy dance-off.
(Soundbite of crying child)
JOHNSON: Then, as quickly as the party got started, it was over. After only about three minutes, the kids had moved on. But before he left the living room, 4-year old Anthony grabbed the mike to make his case.
ANTHONY: It's too long. It's too long.
(Soundbite of women laughing)
JOHNSON: The mothers said amen to that. They explained that their kids like the music and would have stuck around if it was all just songs. But mom Sarita Sharpe said it was all the talking that lost them.
Ms. SARITA SHARPE (Mother of Anthony): If it would have caught them, they would have stuck around. But they - they were lost like - kids will tell you, if you don't catch me in the first couple of minutes, I'm out.
(Soundbite of music)
JOHNSON: Now it could be that "Baby Loves Hip Hop" was built more for the family car than the family room. Kids kind of have to sit and listen when they're in the ride. Plus, Andy says that's where you get to feel the beats that makes this a certified hip-hop album.
Unidentified Man: I had it in my car and I was listening to the song, "What about Ten." It was like bumping my whole...
Unidentified Female: It bumps. You see, I was going to say that. It definitely bumps.
(Soundbite of song "What About Ten?")
The DINO-5: (Rapping) But what about ten? Just one more time….
JOHNSON: In the end, there's only really one way to know for sure. Bump "Baby Loves Hip Hop" for your preschooler, and see how he or she gets downs. And if you make it a group thing, hit me up. I'm always down for Dino-5 and unlimited juice boxes. Christopher Johnson, NPR News.
(Soundbite of song "What About Ten?")
The DINO-5: (Rapping) One Now let's have fun Two Just like me and you Three Birds singing in the trees Four Ants crawling on the floor Five...
BRAND: You can hear more songs from "Baby Loves Hip Hop" at our music Web site, npr.org/music.
(Soundbite of song "What About Ten?")
The DINO-5: (Rapping) Four Wake me up because I snore Five Hide and seek, close your eyes Six I can do a magic tricks Seven My middle name is Kevin Eight I would love a play date Ninth Say what's on your mind What about ten? It got left behind Yeah, what about ten? Frame of mind But what about ten? Just one more time... One Now let's have fun Two Friends like me and you Three Please, can you play with me? Four Ants crawling on the floor Five Saw your handsome style Six I can do a magic tricks Seven Girls make birthday presents Eight Let's go skate Nine Say what's on your mind Ten...
BRAND: Day to Day is a production of NPR News, with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.