Father's wordplay: Hip-hop's top 5 'dads'

Big Daddy Kane

Big Daddy Kane

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Yes, we’re sure. Yes, we checked and you still have time to pick up that perfect Father’s Day gift. Why not celebrate your hip pop with a little hip-hop? In the history of the genre, the wordplay variants of “father” signify a person of power, accomplishment, and influence. Such braggadocios claims even predate rap, going back to the culture’s biggest points of reference like James Brown (a prolific/imperfect father himself). As such, several hip-hop artists have declared themselves “Fathers” in the game. With this being the season for dads (not to mention the season for Dad’s Root Beer), we decided to assemble rap's very best punchline patriarchs.

First, some ground rules. The MCs selected had to have some variant of “father” in their actual stage name. As much as Biggie Smalls liked to be called “Big Poppa” and Kevin Federline suggested we “can call him Daddy instead,” this Sunday isn’t their day. The same goes for MCs like Will Smith, Master P, and E-40 - rappers who’ve actually recorded tracks with their children. As cool as that is, their personas don’t hinge upon them being fathers. We also evaluated these MCs on the timelessness of their music, the fatherly lessons within, and the elusive “dad jokes” found inside their rhymes. That in mind, here are our choices for the top five rap dads of all time.

5) Grand Daddy I.U.

A post-Juice Crew signee to Cold Chillin’, Grand Daddy I.U. carried on the traditions of what makes a hip-hop dad: knowledgeable rhymes, impeccable clothes, and the slick savoir-faire that suggested he could be wooing your mother at any given point. Best remembered for the track “Something New,” I.U. would pop up over the next few decades as a welcome surprise on quite a few posse cuts, most memorably alongside Jay-Z and Lord Finesse for Big L’s “Da Graveyard.”

4) Poppa LQ

A great father is always going to be there for you, and the sheer longevity of the man once known as Poppa LQ is a testament to the promises of fatherhood in action. Longtime fans may remember his '80s run as “The Native Son” Laquan. But we at City Pages have some of our fondest memories set to his early-'90s work as Poppa LQ and his album Your Entertainment, My Reality. The crown jewel of Houston label Rap-A-Lot’s West Coast imprint, LQ would successfully re-emerge as Kenny Kingpin during the fresh coast's hyphy movement.

3) Father MC

An early signing by Sean “Puffy” Combs years before he became Diddy or even a Bad Boy back when he was at Uptown Records, Father MC was a slick, smooth, and soulful rapper at a time when New Jack Swing was just sliding into the picture. His debut album, Father’s Day, boasted two back-to-back No. 1 rap singles: “Treat Them Like They Want to Be Treated” featuring Jodeci, and “I’ll Do 4 U” which boasted the career-making debut of Mary J. Blige.

2) Trick Daddy

Trick Daddy is a fairly underrated artist in terms of his contributions to hip-hop slang, influence on the Miami scene, and some of the most memorable singles of his era. The Miami MC is one of those artists you really have to stop and be thankful for, which is how most people should take the time to think of their fathers. From knowing the right time to tell you “Shut Up” to simply being one to “luh da kids,” Trick Daddy’s quite the stand-up parental unit.

1) Big Daddy Kane

He’s the Kane, so yo, you know the outcome. He’s dramatic, asiatic, not like many. He’s different, so don't compare him to another because they can’t hang. Word to the mother. And father. Kane’s number one on our list, as well as most hip-hop lists, simply because he’s quite possibly the greatest MC to ever pick up a mic. The New York City legend boasts so many classic singles, classic verses, a wide range of topics and styles, and to this day we consider Kane the absolute greatest live performer in hip-hop history. Daddy’s home.