Littleague Makes Hip-Hop Safe for Kids

I love pizza like a fat kid loves cake. So imagine how stoked I was when I heard about "Pizza Party," by Littleague, Neil McIntyre's first post-Yo, Flaco! project.

Come to find out, though, Littleague is like a shindig at Chuck E. Cheese: It's a pizza party, all right, but not one meant for grownups. McIntyre, who teaches early childhood education at Warren Village, came up with the idea with Larry Georgeson, the school's educational director, after they noticed how hyper-sexualized the kids in their charge were. "I can't play KS-107.5 for these little girls," McIntyre explains. "They'll start smacking themselves on the ass and singing about their butts and stuff — and they're five! You know what I mean? They know every word to those songs! They know the ones that they have no business knowing, because their moms and dads all listen to it. Even the edited versions are so inappropriate."

So McIntyre got to work. Enlisting a producer named Improv out of Fort Collins, he wrote a slew of tracks with titles such as "Bug Patrol," "Trip to Sea," "Tooth Decay," "Birthday Bash," "Pizza Party" and "Homemade Haircut," all with the goal of giving the younger set something solid to listen to (mission accomplished, BTW — the beats and rhymes are tight) that's productive rather than destructive. And Georgeson started fashioning an extensive curriculum to go along with each song, incorporating a cast of characters that he and McIntyre created and graf artist Beast brought to life.



"So you hear 'Bug Patrol' one week at school," McIntyre explains, "and then you do a whole week's worth of lessons that tie into bugs and learning to respect living things. Instead of reading the kids a book at the beginning of the week and tying in the lesson, you play the music and then have them actively listen to it and pick it apart with all kinds of activities — math manipulative, fine motor movement, gross motor."

While he didn't create it with this in mind, Littleague may also be the MC's ticket to the big leagues. If a proposed distribution deal goes through, the disc will be available in every early childhood education catalogue. And even if that deal doesn't pan out, it will be available at the Denver Children's Museum, as well as many other children's museums across the country.

"I wish I could tell you that I had this all planned out from the beginning, but I didn't," says McIntyre. "It's just kind of fallen into place. And that's kind of the cool thing: When you do something positive and for the right reasons, it seems like the universe opens its arms to you. It just seems like every potential connection that I've needed has come along and presented itself at the right time. It feels good.

"I've done some research, and there's other people out there doing kids' hip-hop," he adds. "But there's not a lot of good stuff, because the really talented MCs don't want to mess with it, for whatever reason. It's not cool, you know? There's no street cred in it."

So now that he's found this niche, does that mean McIntyre will never again broach adult subjects?

"I'm still going to make my grown-up music," he concludes. "But I feel like, man, I'm just another rapper rapping. The world is full of them. I'm never going to be Rakim. I'm never going to be KRS-One. I'm never going to be Eminem, even. I know I don't want to make pop music if I have to make something that I'm not going to be proud of to do it, you know?"

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