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Hip-Hop And Vintage Pop: First-Rate Records For Kids

Family music has expanded a bit since Pete Seeger and Ella Jenkins recorded folk songs for kids on the venerable Smithsonian Folkways label. Many subgenres -- jazz, polka, Latino -- are increasingly available to tickle the ears of the preschool set.

Hip-hop for kids is no exception, and nobody is making better "kid-hop" than North Carolina musician Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

With help from dozens of musicians, Skidoo stays lighthearted while rapping about arguments with friends, road trips with families and clouds that race. But his songs recognize the challenges and changes that all kids face growing up, like butterflies in the stomach. Underground Playground is a first-rate album, with appeal to more than just hip-hop fans.

But while Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's songs celebrate kids embracing their strengths, whatever they are, on her new album Sunny Day, Elizabeth Mitchell uses music of recent vintage to give kids a quiet spot to do just that.

Reintroducing old songs to young ears has been a constant throughout Mitchell's family-music career. Sometimes it's Chuck Berry, and sometimes it's a friends-and-family call-and-response from Georgia's Sea Islands. For Sunny Day, Mitchell covered Bill Withers' "Lovely Day," one of the album's several covers of pop and folk songs from the not-too-distant past.

Kids come in many shapes and sizes, and more and more, so does kids' music these days. Whatever your family's musical tastes, albums like these prove that there's a kids' album out there that fits it perfectly -- or expand it more.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stefan Shepherd

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