That's a picture of Tyler, the Creator that my one of my twin sons drew. Why did he draw a picture of Tyler, the Creator, you ask?
Well, see, when you're a parent (if you're a good one, at least), you spend no small amount of time worrying. When the kid is a baby, a lot of it involves putting bumpers on sharp edges and whatnot. It seemed like the only thing my boys ever wanted to do once they began crawling was gouge their fucking eyes out on tabletop corners.
But since my boys could walk, I've assumed that every stranger on Earth intends to kidnap them and employ them in an underground sex trade. It's like I'm living inside of that Liam Neeson movie Taken, except, sadly, I'm not hunting anyone in the Albanian mafia down. If one of my boys gets nabbed, I'm chalking that shit up to God's will. That's an L I'll just have to take.
Now, seeing as the boys, who I call Bay and Meech, will turn five this summer, I'm focused on their kindergarten. Initially, the concern revolved around which school they'd attend. We live within walking distance of this one elementary, but there was no way the boys were going to go there. You know those movies about the terrible school that some inspired soul goes in and fixes? This school is like that, except nobody has ever bothered to go in there and fix anything. Morgan Freeman was like, "Fuck that school."
Fortunately, my wife, arch-hustler, managed to wiggle her way into securing the boys two spots at one of the elite magnet schools in the city. And that was great. But then the worry evolved into this new thing: How can we make sure that when the boys arrive, they are the most capable children in the class?
We've always worked with the boys academically; workbooks and flashcards and beginner books and all that blah. Neither of my parents graduated high school, and I suspect I only made it to and beyond college is because I smiled and said "sir" and ma'am" a lot, so we've actively tried to create an atmosphere of learning for them. And I feel good about that.
But Holy Christ, man, that shit can be brutally boring. It's like, a triangle is only three lines, why are you having such a hard time with it, y'know?
So this last time I was supposed to be working with them on shapes and spelling and so on, we switched the things up. The boys are big music fans; they've consumed it in some form just about every day since they got out of the NICU. So I said, "Yo, suckas, how about this: I'm going to show you pictures of people that make music and you draw them and try and write their names. Wanna do that?" Meech was like, "No, sir," and I was like, "Fuck you. You're four. And I could pick you and throw you, like, 20 feet if I really wanted to. You're doing it." (Paraphrashing.)
That's how these came to be. I printed out pictures of rappers from the Internet, told the boys to draw what they saw, gave them a little back story on each guy, then told them to try and write the names. Quotes are comments they made or questions they asked. Malibooyah.
Story: This is Drake. He's pretty cool. A lot of people don't like him because he talks about feelings that most guys say they don't experience even though they do. "Does he cry?" I don't know. Probably. Everybody does. Except Daddy. I never cry. My eyes are made of concrete. "What?" Nothing. Never mind. Don't cry. And never make your lips like that.
Story: This is Dr. Dre. He's not a real doctor. He's done some very important things in music. Lately though, he's mostly just teased an album that likely doesn't exist. Oh, also, you know those big headphones Daddy has? He made them. Don't touch my headphones. I already told you about that.
Story: He might've become the best rapper alive, but I'm not sure. He's confusing. His name is Eminem. "LIKE THE CANDY?!" Yes. "Is anyone named 'Ice Cream'?" Probably. I don't know. "HE'S MY FAVORITE!" Relax, dude.
Story: This is Jay-Z. He's about 100-years-old. If you tell people that you like him, say that his new stuff is okay, but that his old stuff was brilliant. That seems to be the only way to talk about him, even though that's probably not totally true. "He looks funny." Yeah, that too.
Story: This is the guy that sings that one song you like that sounds like robots. "IS THAT A LASER GUN?!" Bro, focus.
Story: She's friends with Drake. She's probably the greatest method actor in all of music.
Story: You remember* this guy? He's the one that made that one song that we got your nickname from, Meech. "Okay. I like him." He started off as a fatter version of a guy named Young Jeezy. He's cool though. He might've been the first guy to be truly great at rapping about opulence in an entirely consumable form. ...Hey. Are you paying attention?
*The first time the boys saw Rick Ross, they thought he was Waternoose from Monsters, Inc. It made me happy that they made that comparison.
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Story: This is Tupac. Everybody loves him. And rightfully so. He's one of the greats. But on the chance that you grow up to not appreciate his humanized fury, never say that you don't like him or that he might be overrated, otherwise you're going to have to sit there and listen to a bunch of morons shout.