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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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My son is a rapper

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My four-year-old rhymes incessantly. At first, we were thrilled. Jack had an unidentified speech impediment when he was younger, so speaking in rhyme sounded like rocket science, literally. Our little speech scientist came up with ingenious creations like, 'Cow pow man van cat shat.' We hung on his every paired word.

Whether we made a conscious attempt to turn Jack's rhymes into something more meaningful than 'cat shat,' or just by happenstance, we started listening to country music. Jack's big sisters, caught in the throes of a full-fledged Taylor Swift obsession, played one 'you done me wrong T-Swift song' after another. Jack was able to hear the beat behind all the heartbreak and even spit out a few non-rhyming words. Success!

I should have known it was too early to declare victory. The first time he recognized a Taylor Swift song on the radio Jack said, 'It's Ala Sif! Ala Sif!' The girls found their brother's pronunciation of their teenage idol's name adorable. Who doesn't love Ala Sif?

As it turns out, Jack doesn't love Ala Sif. In fact, his musical tastes quickly surpassed the entire country genre. His father introduced him to classic rock, and T-Swift was replaced by one big hair band after another. Recently, we were driving down the road listening to more country, and Jack decided to boycott. 'I want boy music. We always listen to girl music. Find me boy music, Mumma!'

Well, after listening to Will Smith 'Get Jiggy With it,' Justin Timberlake beat box about 'Summer Love' and Jay-Z rap about his 'Empire State of Mind,' I think I can safely say why my son has been speaking in rhyme the past year. He's a rapper. It was like someone flipped a switch inside him. His head nodded to the beat, his fists pumped in the air, his arms flapped near his sides, and he spit his rhymes.

As I watched him struggle to contain his rhapsody, I replayed some of Jack's early lyrics in my head.

'Jack, do you want milk?'

'Yeah, I want milk pilk.'

'Jack, let's go outside.'

'Let's go outside, shmoutside.'

'Jack, let's go use the potty.'

'I'm going to go potty, fotty.'

Hey, I didn't say it made sense (like the rest of the lyrically brilliant world of hip hop) but he was rapping. Before I figured out what he was doing, his penchant for poetry drove me crazy. Why couldn't I have a conversation with my son without him twisting all of his syllables around? I even mentioned my concern to his teachers. I asked them, 'Does Jack rhyme all day long?'

'Yes, he likes to have fun with his words,' they said. I didn't ask them if his fun with words made them want to numb their brain with Novocain (Lord, he's got me doing it), but I do remember wondering how many other kids rhymed all day long. I didn't ask them that one.

Before everyone gets worried, no, I don't plan on letting Jack listen to Eminem. I'm not going to pop in Dr. Dre or Tupac or anyone of a number or artists who graphically describe violence in their music. This isn't about being a 'gangsta' born in the wrong hood (we're in Maine, people). Jack still wears his pants around his waist, his caps front and center and there's no ice around his neck - yet. It's about the music.

Though there's been much said about rap music and its degradation of women, glorification of violence and overall idealization of thug life, I'm not talking about the content of some of the music. I'm talking about enjoying the form. In a recent article in 'The Atlantic,' David Samuels calls Kanye West an 'American Mozart' because 'his power resides in his wild creativity and expressiveness, his mastery of form.' Though I have no respect for West's upstaging antics (even Obama calls him 'a jackass') I can't help myself from singing along when I hear, 'I ain't sayin' she a gold-digger.'

When Elvis came on the scene, people thought his music was sinful. You can say the same with any major movement in music since the turn of the century: jazz, rock'n'roll, punk rock, hip hop; the list continues. The point is, if Jack likes to listen to a good beat, if he wants to drop a flo yo, I'm going to let him whip his hair back and forth. You know why?

Because my son's a rapper. Personally, I'd rather listen to Colbie Caillat, but for Jack, he's just not feeling it, dawg.


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