The conversation eventually became about music, and maybe that was the intended point anyway, but it started out about Toughness Training.
Toughness Training is a series of games the boys and I made up. They're a lot like normal kid games, except way the fuck less boring. Most of them involve a ball, and all of them involve being (or becoming) tough (or, at the very least, what is traditionally accepted as “being tough”).
There's one game called Loose Ball. It's pretty simple. We play it in the master bedroom. The boys stand with one hand on the wall farthest from the bed. I take a ball, throw it on the bed, shout, “LOOSE BALL,” and then they run and dive after it. Whoever gets the ball wins.
There's this other game called “Hold Fight.” It's even simpler. One boy holds a ball (usually a small basketball, but sometimes a football) as tight as he can. I say, “Go,” and then the other one has six seconds to rip it away. Whoever has the ball at the end wins.
There's this other game called “Crazy Race.” It's the most simple. It's just like a regular race, except you're encouraged to impede your opponent's progress by whatever force you deem necessary. (I think Jason Statham stole the idea and turned it into Death Race, but I'm not certain because I never actually watched Death Race.)
At any rate, Toughness Training — or, the varying degrees of the intensity of the application of Toughness Training, anyway — is how the conversation started. From there, it turned to Kanye West. More specifically, it turned to Kanye West rapping, “Fuck that bitch, she don't wanna dance” in “Niggas In Paris.”
I have two versions of Watch The Throne on my iPod. There's the normal, unfiltered, enjoyable version, and then there's the tempered, clean version (which, ironically, can only be described as “fucking shitty”).
The only reason I have both versions is because of the boys. Now, had the boys no desire to listen to Jay-Z pretend like he invented dubstep, there'd be no problem. We could avoid the album entirely. But they enjoy rap. At times, they actively pursue it. I mean, they've lived their entire teeny-tiny lives as sons of a rap critic; something about osmosis, something about being like daddy. It's in them now.
But from that, a natural conundrum develops. I think we can all agree that, with the exception of Drake's “Best I Ever Had,” every clean version of every rap song has been the pits. And I think we can all agree that, with the exception of the Where's My Motherfucking Change kid, it's generally not cool for your child to cuss. So what then?
Attempt to pawn off waterlogged music as culture? That seems especially counterintuitive, the opposite of the point of both music and culture. “Rack city, chick, rack, rack city, chick” is FUCKING RIDICULOUS. But “rack city, bitch, rack, rack city bitch”? GENIUS. A man's art is his art.
Or expose the boys to all of Pimp C's wrath on “Diamonds & Wood“? That doesn't seem right either. It's like, I don't know a lot about how church works, but I don't imagine the lady that watches the pen where they hold the kids while their parents are in Sunday morning service would be too keen on Bay dismissing Judas as a pussy ass nigga who was acting real shife towards Jesus.
I'm stuck between being common sense responsible and being intellectually responsible, and that's a particularly strange internal dialogue to have.