Tight Rhymes For Tykes And Triceratops Boasting a cast of respected rap veterans — and their dinosaur avatars — the new collection called Baby Loves Hip Hop is all about helping preschoolers get their prehistoric party started.
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Tight Rhymes For Tykes And Triceratops

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Tight Rhymes For Tykes And Triceratops

Tight Rhymes For Tykes And Triceratops

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Back now with Day to Day. You know, if you have kids, it's really hard to listen to "Baby Beluga" or "Apples and Bananas" more than, oh, a hundred times. Sorry, Raffi. But music producer Andy Hurwitz has made it his mission to bring genres like salsa and jazz from the adult world into the kid world with his "Baby Loves Music" series.


So his earlier CD releases included "Baby Loves Disco" and "Baby Loves Jazz," and the musicians that collaborate on them are all top notch. For his latest in this series, "Baby Loves Hip-Hop," Andy Hurwitz again brought together some major artists from the hip-hop world. NPR's Christopher Johnson took the CD on a play date, and here's what happened.

(Soundbite of song "Dino 5 Theme")

THE DINO 5: (Singing) Here come the Here come the Here come the Dino 5

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: "Baby Loves Hip Hop" is all about helping your preschooler get his or her prehistoric party on. The concept album tells the story - in words and song - of five kid dinosaurs that form a rap group called The Dino 5. Let's meet the crew.

(Soundbite of song "Dino 5 Theme")

THE DINO 5: (Together) Here we come, The Dino Five.

Mr. WORDSWORTH: (As Billy Brontosaurus) (Rapping) T-Rex, you there?

Mr. CHALI 2NA: (As MC T-Rex) (Rapping) Right by your side.

Mr. WORDSWORTH: (As Billy Brontosaurus) (Rapping) Tracy, you OK?

Ms. LADYBUG MECCA: (As Tracy Triceratops) (Rapping) I'm doing fine. Billy, are you ready?

Mr. WORDSWORTH: (As Billy Brontosaurus) (Rapping) Just give me the sign.

Mr. CHALI 2NA: (As MC T-Rex) (Rapping) Well, where's Teo?

Mr. SCRATCH: (As Teo Pterodactyl) (Rapping) Right here.

Ms. LADYBUG MECCA: (As Tracy Triceratops) (Rapping) Yo, DJ?

Mr. PRINCE PAUL: (As DJ Stegosaurus) (Rapping) Making sure everything's clear.

Ms. LADYBUG MECCA: (As Tracy Triceratops) (Rapping) Tracy,

Mr. CHALI 2NA: (As MC T-Rex) (Rapping) T-Rex,

Mr. WORDSWORTH: (As Billy Brontosaurus) (Rapping) Billy,

Mr. SCRATCH: (As Teo Pterodactyl) (Rapping) Teo.

Mr. PRINCE PAUL: (As DJ Stegosaurus) (Rapping) DJ.

THE DINO 5: (Together) The Dino Five, here we go.

JOHNSON: To form The Dino 5, Andy Hurwitz assembled an A-team of hip-hop veterans. Remember Digable Planets? They took home a Grammy in '94 for a song subtitled "Cool Like Dat." Well, their female MC, Ladybug Mecca, is in the house as Tracy Triceratops. Mecca remembers when Andy asked her to come on board.

Ms. MECCA (MC, Digable Planets): I was with it right away. You know, I've always been wanting to do a kids album. I have kids of my own. So, it was great because I was able to use them you know, as my little test guides.

JOHNSON: Could the children of a rap pioneer really get down to some "Baby Loves Hip Hop"?

Ms. MECCA: What, are you kidding? I dance all through the house, we rhyme it together, while I'm cooking, while we're cleaning. Oh, yeah, every day. It's not a joke.

(Soundbite of Dino Five song)

THE DINO 5: (Rapping) When it's too hot outside we jumped in a pool. We jump all day and night and jump after school. I love to jump and I can jump for many days. Can we jump on mummy's bed and couch, no ways. So let's jump.

Mr. ANDY HURWITZ (Music Producer): It's absolutely child tested.

JOHNSON: Andy's got kids too. A four and a six-year-old.

Mr. HURWITZ: They totally loved it. I knew it was on when they started just like randomly rapping the words out of nowhere.

(Soundbite of Dino 5 song)

THE DINO 5: (Rapping) With huge feet and a massive body. And don't the kids whisper when they ask about me. I'm always alone because I'm big and bulky...

JOHNSON: Andy called on hip-hop legend Prince Paul to help put the music together. Paul's been making power moves in the rap world since hip-hop itself was preschool-aged. He's produced for De La Soul, the RZA, and Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid.

Mr. HURWITZ: Paul can span genres from you know, jazz to funk to hip-hop, and so if you said kids, it's not a problem for him. And after working with him, you kind of get the feeling he's just a big kid anyway. So, I think that comes natural.

(Soundbite of Dino Five song)

THE DINO FIVE: (Rapping) Hey, why you don't quit all that noise your making. Those big old feet they must be aching...

JOHNSON: "Baby Loves Hip Hop" packs more than musical weight. Slam poetry superstar Ursula Rucker narrates the storyline. She plays a mom, reading the Dino Five bedtime story to her little girl.

Ms. URSULA RUCKER (Narrator): They play dinosaur hip-hop a lot after school. They really loved the music and thought it was cool...

JOHNSON: But before passing this disc its full props, there was still one question I had to answer: Could the Dino Five's jurassic jams lock in the attention of a group of preschoolers?

(Soundbite of children playing)

JOHNSON: I talked my fellow producer Kenya Young into hosting a listening party at her apartment near Los Angeles. She's got a couple of very energetic little boys, and she invited about half-dozen of their friends over. I came through with the string cheese and juice boxes because you know, we had to get the party started right.

(Soundbite of children's party)

JOHNSON: After a little climbing on the furniture, on me, and on each other, everybody settled down, and it was go time for The Dino Five.

(Soundbite of Dino 5 song)

THE DINO 5: (Singing) Here come the Dino 5.

JOHNSON: And I'm talking about instant madness. The kids went berserk. Kenya's living room became part mosh pit, part kiddy-krump session. Elbows and legs went flying. Some of the smaller kids became casualties of that high-energy dance-off.

(Soundbite of child crying)

JOHNSON: Then as quickly as the party got started, it was over. After only about three minutes the kids had moved on. But before he left the living room, four-year-old Anthony grabbed the mike to make his case.

Mr. ANTHONY: (Singing) It's too long. It's too long.

JOHNSON: The mothers said amen to that. They explained that their kids liked the music, and would have stuck around if it was all just songs. But mum Sarita Sharpe said it was all the talking that lost them.

Ms. SARITA SHARPE (Mother): If it would have caught them they would have stuck around, but they were lost like, kids will tell you, if you don't catch me in the first couple of minutes, I'm out.

JOHNSON: Now it could be that "Baby Loves Hip Hop" was built more for the family car than the family room. Kids kind of have to sit and listen when they're in the ride. Plus Andy says that's where you get to feel the beats that make this a certified hip-hop album.

Mr. HURWITZ: I had it in my car and I was listening to that song, "What about 10," and it was, like, bumping - my whole car was vibrating.

Ms. SHARPE: Yeah, it definitely bumps.

(Soundbite of song "What About 10")

THE DINO 5: What about 10, it's a friend of mine. What about 10, just one more time.

JOHNSON: In the end, there's only really one way to know for sure. Bump "Baby Loves Hip Hop" for your preschooler, and see how he or she gets down. And if you make it a group thing, get me up. I'm always down for Dino Five and unlimited juice boxes. Christopher Johnson, NPR News.

(Soundbite of "What About 10")

THE DINO 5: (Rapping) Now let's have fun. Just like me and you…

BRAND: You can hear more songs from "Baby Loves Hip Hop" at our music website npr.org/music.

(Soundbite of song "What About 10")

THE DINO 5: (Rapping) Swimming in a lake. I'm feeling fine...

BRAND: Day to Day's a production of NPR News, with contributions from slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand

CHADWICK: And I'm Alex Chadwick.

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