When you think of the rap genre, your mind might automatically scream, "My kids are not listening to that crap!" But if you vet the lyrics to some rap songs, you learn that some of them are totally appropriate for children to listen to.
Not all rap songs are about sex and violence. In fact, some songs have pretty positive messages. And at this point, almost anything beats the mind-numbing madness that is listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat.
We went on a mission to create a playlist of new and old hip-hop and rap you can listen to with your kids. These aren't radio-censored versions — they're original songs squeaky clean enough that they won’t leave you completely humiliated when your kid decides to belt out the lyrics in public.
Don't let some of the videos fool you. The songs are kid-friendly.
1. Lecrae — "I'll Find You" featuring Tori Kelly
Lecrae's 2014 album Anomaly made history when it became the first to be on the Billboard Top 200 and top gospel charts at the same time. Needless to say, all of his songs are good, clean music.
2. Gym Class Heroes — "Stereo Hearts" featuring Adam Levine
Clean, cute and Adam Levine... the trifecta.
3. Rihanna — "We Found Love" featuring Calvin Harris
Two words: Dance party. Probably the cleanest song ever from one of the baddest divas around, and while the video is not really kid-safe, the song definitely is.
4. Flo Rida — "Good Feeling"
The title of this song really should just be #goals.
5. Arrested Development — "Tennessee"
Give it two or three plays and your kids will be singing every word to this awesome throwback. Why is that awesome? Because there will be nothing better for your temperament than watching your kid coloring while singing, "Lord, I've really been real stressed, down and out, losing friends..."
6. B.o.B. — "Magic" featuring Rivers Cuomo
Slip in a little alt-rock on your kids to keep it fresh.
7. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince — "Parents Just Don't Understand"
Most of this duo's songs are kid-friendly, as is the majority of Will Smith's music. Can't go wrong with The Fresh Prince theme, either. This is one your kids will definitely relate to.
8. Kris Kross — "Jump"
Have fun explaining this one to your kids, but it is sure to get them out of their chairs.
Originally published December 2015. Updated September 2017.
9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert
A song with a beat and a message: Macklemore advocating for marriage equality with a catchy beat. You'll feel good about sharing this one with your kids. Maybe it will even spark a much-needed conversation with your children, yet one that's hard to segue into, about some very important subjects.
10. Vanilla Ice — "Ice Ice Baby"
Word to your mother. Good luck keeping your son from wanting a flattop now.
11. Estelle — "1980"
Our girl Estelle, generally an R&B artist, brings her coming-of-age tale into the rap category with this great track that has passion, intimacy and some pretty great lyrics.
12. Lupe Fiasco — "Kick Push"
This Grammy-nominated song has all the trademarks of Lupe Fiasco's easily recognizable sound and tells the tale of a lovesick skater who gets quite the surprise when he realizes his love interest is a better skater than he is.
13. Common — "Come Close" featuring Mary J. Blige
Common always has a place in our hearts, but there's no way you can't love the twist at the end of this video. It's also a great song to share with your kids — as are many of Common's songs, if you've got older tweens and teens.
14. TLC — "What About Your Friends"
Always a crowd-pleaser. We dare you to try not to sing along with this oldie but goodie. Hairbrush karaoke material right here.
15. Dessa — "Fighting Fish"
Probably one you've never heard of. With a few adult words right at the beginning, this might be tween and up, but it is definitely still one you can feel safe sharing with your kids.
16. Estelle — "American Boy" featuring Kanye West
Didn't think you could listen to Kayne with your kids?
17. De La Soul — "Me, Myself and I"
This was the jam back in the '90s, and it will make you wonder why you ever stopped listening to old-school hip-hop.
18. The Black Eyed Peas — "I Gotta Feeling"
Another toe-tapper you're gonna love to share. Upbeat, and it might just be the perfect thing to get you and your kids up and out the door in the morning.