The British Are Rapping!

(Getty/Venla Shalin/Contributor)

Cast your mind back to the 1990s. It was a simple time for hip-hop. Back then, it was an either-or kind of deal. East Coast vs. West Coast, Bad Boy vs. Def Jam, Biggie vs. Tupac, Puff Daddy vs. Suge Knight. Yeah ok, there was the Southern scene, but basically, you could just ignore OutKast and Arrested Development and you were back to the two-party system.

Nowadays things are a little different. Atlanta is a key player, as is New Orleans, Houston, Detroit, and you’ve even got bloody Canadian’s joining in! Basically, there’s a lot of people rapping these days, and you can kind of find something for everyone.

Something you might not be aware of though, is that the British have gotten pretty good at it. Maybe you like British accents, maybe you want to impress someone with your knowledge, I don’t know what your deal is, I don’t know you. Either way, here are some of my favorite British rappers for you to check out.

Ocean Wisdom

A lot of British rap music over the past twenty or thirty years hasn’t necessarily been hip-hop music; genres like jungle, garage, and grime have taken a lot of the limelight. But in the past few years there has been a serious rise in straight-up hip-hop, with the record label High Focus leading the charge. Arguably the stand out artist from the High Focus roster is Brighton’s Ocean Wisdom.

Ocean dropped his debut album Chaos 93 in 2016 and his debut single, “Walkin’,” gained him international attention when he took Eminem’s title of the world’s fastest rapper, somehow delivering 4.45 words per second over an incredible 3 minutes 47 seconds.

This year, he is back with a new album, Wizville, that features some titans of the UK hip hop scene, Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Jehst, and even features a cameo from Wu Tang’s own Method Man. Definitely check out the debut album, but for now listen to new single “Revvin’,” featuring grime legend Dizzee Rascal.

Loyle Carner

Similar to Ocean Wisdom in that his music is hip-hop through and through, Loyle Carner is another star on the rise in the UK scene. If you like your hip-hop to be wholesome, then this is the guy for you – not like Fresh Prince wholesome either. Loyle does say cuss words.

It’s just that this guy loves his family (his mum was his date to the Brit Awards in February), he respects women (he threw a man out of his show for groping a crowd surfer) and he is socially conscious too (he teaches disadvantaged youths to cook through a scheme he created called Chilli Con Carner), and it all comes through in his music.

His music is heart wrenchingly honest, raw and real. Songs about wanting a sister (“Florence”), missing his dad (“BFG”), and worrying about talking to girls (“+44”) are complimented by classic hip-hop themes of ambition (“Ain’t Nothin’ Changed”). Generally, he is a great lyricist, has great beats, and seems to be a really good guy too.

M.I.A.

You’ve probably heard songs by M.I.A. over the past ten years, and it’s probably fair to say she’s one of the more successful exports. Songs like “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls” have been global hits that have featured in movies and commercials (that’s how you know they’re good). As a result, you might be forgiven for thinking that she has just a couple of bangers and that’s all. But you’d be wrong if you thought that. She’s now released 5 albums that are packed full of quality.

On Kala (arguably her most famous record), M.I.A. tackles a range of social issues, whilst also sampling a very diverse range of music, from The Clash and Pixies to Ilaiyaraaja and The Wilcannia Mob. Her influences are vast and wide, and that comes through regularly in her music, and just listening to an M.I.A. album can introduce you to a range of music you’ve never heard before, or show you something you’re familiar with in a totally new light.

My personal favorite comes from her debut album Arular, the song “Sunshowers” just, it just does it for me.

Roots Manuva

Arguably one of the most influential trip-hop artists from the UK scene is Roots Manuva. His influence is far-reaching. It’s been argued that his music was a precursor to the grime scene and in 2014 Vice said that his debut album (1999’s Brand New Second Hand) is still the best thing to come out of UK hip-hop.

In the late 1990s, Roots Manuva did something that a lot of other British rappers had failed to do to that point. He made Britishness something to rap about. While the East and West Coast scenes in America were rapping about slinging drugs and shooting people, Roots was able to bring a sense of authenticity to his music by rapping about cheese on toast and drinking pints of bitter.

Probably his most famous and successful song was “Witness (1 Hope)” from his 2001 album Run Come Save Me. Be warned: Once you listen to this you’re going to want to be English.

Stormzy

Grime has had a few artists breakout and hit the mainstream in the past 15 years or so – the likes of Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, and Dizzee Rascal are some of the more recognizable names from the scene. But probably the biggest of them all is the current darling of the UK rap scene, Stormzy.

Not only has he had a slew of radio hits, but his debut album (Gang Signs and Prayers) was the first Grime album to peak at number one in the UK album charts, getting certified Platinum in the UK within a year of its release.

Part of the reason he has enjoyed the success he has is because he has a very level-headed, socially conscious voice that he puts towards good and popular causes. Calling out the prime minister in an award acceptance speech in February this year, for example.

Obviously, check out his album, but some of his best stuff is from his early demos and EPs. For example, “Not That Deep” from 2014 EP Dreamer’s Disease.

Kate Tempest

To round this off, let’s talk about something slightly different. Kate Tempest isn’t really a hip-hop artist. She is a poet and she is a spoken word rapper, and she is incredible. She is one of those artists that has such a way with words that you can close your eyes and just let her paint a landscape with her lyrics.

Her debut album, Everybody Down, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014, but arguably, the 2016 follow up Let Them Eat Chaos is an even stronger piece. Tempest is a playwrite too, and you can tell when you listen to Let Them Eat Chaos. There is a cast of characters that repeat throughout, there is an atmospheric, dream-like quality to the beats, and her softly delivered bars penetrate your mind perfectly. If you let it, Let Them Eat Chaos is the sort of album that can change the way you hear music.

Some of the standout tracks are probably “Ketamine for Breakfast,” “Europe is Lost,” and “Breaks,” but the album closer, “Tunnel Vision,” is the one that really does it for me.

There is much more British hip-hop out there, and I’ve overlooked an awful lot in this article, so it’s right that I throw out some honourable mentions to the likes of Jehst, The Four Owls, Klashnekoff, The Streets, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Rodney P, Skepta, Wretch 32, Professor Green, Doc Brown, Little Simz, Kojey Radical, Fliptrix, Speech Debele, and so many more.

So the world of hip-hop over in North America might want to remember the words of Paul Revere because the British are coming, and we are bringing fire.

Dad and Son Gain Global Recognition by Reuniting Lost Gloves

(Instagram/lonely_glove_club)

Brooklyn dad Lance Vining and his 4-year-old son, Zach, were walking to school on a brisk December morning when Zach noticed a lone glove abandoned on the sidewalk.

“Daddy, what happens to the gloves that are just left on the sidewalk?” Zach asked, clearly concerned.

“Well, nothing happens to them,” Lance responded. “Because you can’t do anything with a single glove.”

This answer simply wasn’t satisfactory for Zach, who was “crestfallen,” according to Lance. So, instead of accepting his own answer, Lance decided to actually do something about it.

With a few posters and a laminator, the duo created the “Lonely Gloves Club,” a network of neighborhood ‘lost & found’ locations made specifically for neglected gloves.

 

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Zach and I having fun trying to be good neighbors. #lonelygloveclub #windsorterrace

A post shared by #lonelygloveclub (@lonely_glove_club) on

Locals immediately began to take notice.

“As we were putting up the signs, people were commenting, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea,’ which was kind of awesome,” Lance told New York News 4. Realizing additional steps could be taken to reunite folks with their lost gloves, Lance even launched an Instagram page to promote new arrivals to the club.

The campaign has gained some followers—both online and off—with people requesting signs to start their own Lonely Gloves Club in their local neighborhoods. Lance and Zach have sent posters to California, England, the Netherlands, and a number of places in between.

 

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Zach mailing off another poster! This one for the second time. #notenoughstamps

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It’s hard to track just how many people have been reunited with gloves due to the club’s efforts, but Lance says he and Zach “see new gloves appearing and other gloves disappearing, so it seems to be working.”

Currently, there is only one documented glove recovery story on Instagram, but the heavy use of hashtags and exclamation points emphasizes just how special the find was.

“It’s really rewarding to think that such a small, little idea that was supposed to just be for our neighborhood is being so well-received by other places in the world,” Lance said.

“I guess it’s kind of a universal thing that everybody goes through every winter — we’ve all lost and seen gloves on the side of the road.”

Working as a creative director in Manhattan, Lance has loved the opportunity to participate in a project with his son.

“This is the kind of thing I do for big brands all the time, so it’s a bit of an insight into my world for him,” he said. “I wanted to show him that if you see a problem, you can solve it. You don’t have to wait for somebody else to solve it.

Tweet Roundup: The Funniest Tweets About Winter…With Children

(Getty/Elizabeth Sallee Bauer)

Gloves, hats, mitts, boots, snow pants, jackets and the dreaded snow day. These are just a few of the hardships people who parent in cold climates have to endure.

Here are the funniest tweets about winters…with children.

If you have kids in school, winter can be especially frustrating.

So try to look at every snow day as a blessing.

Sure, you could use the weather as an excuse to be lazy inside.

But that will quickly try your patience.

So take the young’ns outside and make the most of it!

First, you gonna wanna bundle them up.

Be sure to invest in a nice coat they’ll hate.

Like, HATE hate.

Don’t forget the mittens. They will.

Ready to head out?

Perfect! Time to build a snowman. Round up an old scarf, a carrot, and okay they’re already bored.

Cool. Great.

Plenty to do inside.

8-Minute Short Film About a Dad and Son Will Hit You in the Feels [WATCH]

(YouTube/Pepe School Land)

Short film Alike highlights an all too common theme in parenting but in a fun, whimsical way. It opens with a father loading up his son’s backpack with an unreasonable number of textbooks. The son, seen joyfully running around the house, is instantly anchored to the ground when his dad straps it around his tiny shoulders.

Acclimating to the bag’s immense weight, the boy happily wobbles out of frame. His father grabs an equally heavy work briefcase and follows suit out the door.

On their walk to work/school, the boy spots a violin player in the center of town and is instantly captivated by the performance. Surrounded by grey buildings, grey cars, and grey pedestrians, the boy, father, and violinist appear to be the only things in color.

Despite his son’s obvious enchantment with the musician, the father reminds his son of their responsibilities, slips the backpack full of books back on his son, and leads him back into the drab, colorless environment of the city. Clearly, this severe lack of color isn’t a simple design choice.

After a quick embrace, the father departs from his son’s school and heads to a dead end, soul-crushing job. Surrounded by menial tasks, the color literally drains out of him. Watching the clock with dull grey eyes, he counts the minutes until he’s free to leave, his color only returning when he’s with his jubilant son once again.

The son, however, retains his color initially—daydreaming about the violinist and the way the music made him feel, but he’s told day after day that his passions are not appropriate. As time wears on, his color also begins to dwindle and he’s forced to leave his interests behind to conform to the other students.

In a behind the scenes video, the film’s co-director Daniel Martinez Lara explains how fatherhood means constantly asking ourselves what the best things are for our children at any given moment. We try our best and don’t always get it right. This film doesn’t answer that question per se but acts as a reflection of that process.

This is the reason the father and son characters are playfully known to the film crew as “Copi” and “Paste.” We often consider our children to be miniature extensions of ourselves rather than unique individuals with dreams, desires, and personalities. Alike begins with Copi dragging Paste through the motions of what he believes life should be. It isn’t until he listens and acknowledges his son’s passions as legitimate that a genuine connection is established once again.

Parenting can often be viewed as a long list of “shoulds” and “musts,” but it’s also an opportunity to see your children for what they are: amazing people. So, while we have a responsibility to teach and guide our kids, so they don’t become garbage human beings when they grow up, it can also be important to stop and just let them listen to the music every once in a while. You never know what you might learn as a result.

Dad Grades: Homer Simpson From The Simpsons

(20th Century Fox)

D’oh! In whole year we’ve been doing Dad Grades, we’ve neglected to offer analysis for one of the most iconic, influential, beloved dads in the history of pop culture: Homer J. Simpson. Let’s jump right into it.

STRENGTHS

By the end of any episode surrounding him and his kids, Homer Simpson has revealed himself to be, deep down, a caring and devoted father. Jumping the Springfield Gorge on skateboard to earn Bart’s respect.

Working two jobs to afford Lisa’s dream pony.

And as far as Maggie goes, who could forget this tug at the heartstrings?

 

WEAKNESSES

Wow. Okay. Where to begin. Chokes his son, for starters.

The first sketch of Homer strangling Bart (1988)

We know this is the same unrealistic cartoon violence they themselves satirize by way of Itchy & Scratchy, but we’d be remiss to omit that piece of information from this very serious analysis. Yikes.

Look at this.

That’s a mace.

Don’t worry. All uphill from here. Drinks excessively, can’t forget that one. Again, fully aware cartoons operate within their own system of both physics and ethics, so we’re good on smug comments condemning the actions of Wile E. Coyote or whatever. You knew this damn well this Dad Grade had to happen at some point.

(20th Century Fox)

Kept Bart out of school for some time to start a business that amounted to stealing and reselling grease. Multiple crimes in that sentence.

(20th Century Fox)

Oh yeah, DANGEROUSLY stupid. Jumped over Springfield Gorge on a skateboard Did we include that as a strength? Yeah, that was a dumb thing for him to do. I mean, a DRAWBRIDGE closed on his head one time.

Just an unprecedented level of ineptitude, really. A horrible example to set for your kids. We here at The Dad do not take such reckless abandon lightly.

You know what? Let’s just stop with drawbridge on head. Doing a deep-dive on the paternal competency of Homer Simpson is like watching footage of hot dogs being made. Trust us, best to just throw some relish on that bad boy and enjoy it for what it is.

VERDICT

Over the past year, we at Dad Grades have offered analyses on countless TV and movie dads, all the while priding ourselves on doing so with both accountability and fairness. We aim for complete objectivity throughout every one of these super serious evaluations that should be taken seriously. We do not like what we’re about to do any more than you do. It is with a heavy heart that we give our very first…

FINAL DAD GRADE: F

Check out our previous edition when we graded Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor!

Dad Builds Wheelchair-Accessible Igloo for His 9 Adopted Kids

(Reddit/danthoms)

Parenting is a tough gig. We’re all doing the best we can, trudging through, mostly happy to survive another day without blowing it too badly.

Then we run across some parents who are doing more than merely surviving, they’re crushing it on every level, and making us look like amateurs. Like the Cincinnati dad who built an igloo for his kids, complete with wheelchair access. Nine kids. All of whom have special needs. All of whom they’ve adopted.

If I had nine kids, I wouldn’t have the energy to get out of bed, let alone build an igloo, let alone add a ramp to the igloo! Gregg Eichhorn is a superhero, and so is his wife Katie.

“We adopt all medical and special needs kids because seems like those are the kids where they have the hardest time finding homes for them,” Eichhorn told CBS.

His oldest, 19-year-old Zahara, was adopted from Uganda. She is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair, but she had no problem rolling into the enormous snow fort her dad built with his sister. She couldn’t wait to get in there.

“Her face lit up – she gets super excited,” Eichhorn said of Zahara’s reaction when she saw the igloo. “I think she felt like a movie star.”

He wasn’t the only one! Elijah, Zahara’s brother, also uses a wheelchair, was excited about the igloo. All nine of the Eichhorn kids were.

“They’re all loving it. They think it’s really neat,” Superdad said.

Obviously. Who wouldn’t want a badass igloo like that in their yard!

Reddit agrees. One of Gregg’s friends posted about the igloo on Reddit and it immediately took off, garnering over 70,000 upvotes and nearly 1000 comments as people shared their admiration for the dad, and for his handiwork.

Card

Card

Eichhorn is happy for the extra attention his viral post is bringing to special needs children who need homes.

“I think it’s really important that all kids with medical and special needs that are orphans have people to step up and provide them with homes.”

Dad Lands Vacation Dates for Sons With Funny Classified Ad

(NZ Herald/Facebook)

If you reach a certain age and aren’t in a relationship, parents simply can’t accept it. In their eyes, you are their little prince or princess and anyone would be damn lucky to be with you.

So, bless their hearts, they do their best to help you out with setting up blind dates and plan, planning social events, or just incessant prodding about their need for grandchildren.

One particular dad from Portland, Oregon went above and beyond, however, when he placed an ad for not one, but all three of his sons in a New Zealand newspaper while they were there on vacation.

(Facebook)

“Hello Parents. We are from the States (Oregon), visiting your beautiful country. My wife and I have three wonderful, successful, handsome, alas unmarried, sons between the ages of 28-32,” the ad in the NZ Herald read.

“We are not expecting, just hoping, to introduce our sons to nice NZ daughters. At the very least we’ll embarrass our sons and the truth is, we do find some enjoyment in that.”

Neil, the proactive father, said the ad immediately received over 200 replies and he was doing his best to sort through them all since his sons still had no idea any of it was happening.

“I’m somewhat surprised that I have got quite a lot of responses,” he said.

“It is hard to tell how many are genuine. A few are maybe just scammers but for the most part, people are really amazingly nice in your country.”

(NZ Herald/NewsTalk ZB)

Neil’s sons—Matthew, Jeremy, and Benjamin—range from ages 26 to 31 and all have steady jobs in the Pacific Northwest region. According to their dad, though, their dating lives haven’t really been a serious focus for any of them.

“I know one of my sons uses these dating sites and is always going on introductory dates and meeting somebody, but he hasn’t had a serious relationship in quite a while,” Neil told the newspaper.

“I decided to help. I have no idea what will happen, but at least we will be able to meet some people.”

Neil says he’s still deciding when and how to tell his sons about the ad, probably waiting until they are actually on the flight to New Zealand or casually slipping it in while they disembark.

“I might say, ‘Oh, by the way, I did place a little ad for you guys’,” he chuckled.

“I am sure they will be surprised and annoyed, but I am sure they will laugh. We have a good relationship and are always joking with each other. They know I am a little unusual in that regard.”

As it turns out the brothers were all good sports about it. In total the ad sparked more than 600 responses and even resulted in a few dates.

“Between my brothers and I, we went on a few one-on-one dates,” Benjamin told the Daily Mail.

“[New Zealand women] are very intelligent, kind, friendly people. We love their accents. They were a lot of fun, everyone we met seemed nice.

“I think we will continue to stay in touch with the people we met. We really want to come back – it was a beautiful country.”

Father Figures: Unconventional and Unexpected

“We were 10 months into marriage as 23-year-olds, new to NYC. Jake was in grad school at Columbia while we were getting used to living in our 400 sq. ft. studio in Washington Heights. His mechanical engineering midterms were coming up, so I made some freezer meals and went to CA to visit my family while he studied and took tests.

Two days into my trip home, we got a call from an old friend to adopt her sweet baby girl.

While my saying yes was immediate, I of course knew I should probably consult my husband! So I called him, around midnight his time, and asked him if we could keep her! (This is possibly what caused him to go grey at 25?)

He replied, “What? Is that allowed? Of course! We have to do the right thing,” and watching him meet her a week later was the most special experience. It was an unconventional and unexpected way to enter into parenting, but he is absolutely crushing the dad game and it’s as if the dad jokes started immediately.

It’s like something releases in the brain once you’re wildly in love with your kids. He’s holding off on the white leather New Balances for now, but causes our daughter, Stella Grace, to light up with his imaginative play and jumping on the trampoline.

He even said it’d be okay to have a few more kids, and he just bought me a minivan, so I assume that means he wants to max it out! I’m thankful for the father he is!”

– Monique Coleman

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Frosty the Snowman Stops Vehicular Vandals in Their Tracks

(Cody Lutz Media)

Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

Cody Lutz of Petersberg, KY enjoyed the recent snowfall in the “Bluegrass State” by constructing a giant 9-foot-tall snowman with his fiancee and soon-to-be sister-in-law.

Lutz commented in a Facebook post that his fiancee’s sister was “elated to experience the biggest snowfall she’s ever seen.”

(Cody Lutz Media)

Using a giant tree stump as a foundation for “Frosty,” this giant snow fellow was about as sturdy as they come. So much so, in fact, that he survived a head-on collision with a would-be vandal’s car.

When Lutz cam home later that day, he noticed tire tracks leading up to the snowman from the road. Clearly, some motorist out there had vehicular snowmanslaughter on the mind but underestimated all the junk in Frosty’s trunk.

(Cody Lutz Media)

The snowman looks a little worse for wear with the tree stump in its base now exposed, but the snowy imprint of the bumper definitely adds some flair.

“You reap what you sow,” Lutz said. “Still standing and still smiling, Frosty certainly had the last laugh!”