The community of musicians making hip-hop for kids is small but dedicated. The Bay Area's Alphabet Rockers have, over the course of their career, gradually refined their sound and their audience, moving from preschool-targeted topics to a somewhat older crowd.
Just a glance at the title of their upcoming album -- Rise Shine #Woke, out this Friday, September 1 -- suggests that Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd continue their journey as songwriters into the world at large. (The band cites Lauryn Hill's classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as a template for the album.) Don't get me wrong, I love me some "Shape Rap," but I'm also glad to see them tackle broader social issues as well -- Pete Seeger, after all, sang about bugs and the labor movement.
You can read as much or as little politics as you want into this new tune "Shine," but the video, with footage from a recent concert at the local Oakland Museum, features lots of beaming, dancing kids, along with lyrics celebrating kids' smiles, skin color, and self-expression, is worth pressing play.
Alphabet Rockers - "Shine" [YouTube]
Photo credit: Marcus Salinas