Grammy-nominated hip hop artist Fyütch put on quite a show for a crowd of kids at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this past Saturday, Nov. 5.
The show took the form of two performances, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, both aimed at children 5 and up.
Fyütch, who has been featured on the Today Show, in the New York Times, opened for artists like Pharrell Williams, may have been performing for BAM for the first time, but he’s been creating music for a younger audience for a couple of years now.
“Since 2020, since the pandemic, I’ve been doing a lot more shows for youth,” he said.
“It started as virtual, and then I’ve been doing them in person as things opened up more.”
Fyütch — real name Harold Michael Simmons II — shared with BK Reader what it’s like performing for this new audience.
He said his now-5-year-old daughter was a huge influence on his move to children’s music, and she continues to be someone he leans on.
“She’s my biggest fan and critic at the same time,” he said.
“I like bouncing ideas off her, making music she can learn the words to. At elementary age, the kids are really receptive. It’s such a fundamental age group to start floating these ideas to.”
However, Fyütch’s kid-oriented music isn’t just intended to entertain: He aims to incorporate lessons in his songs on subjects like Black history.
“The intention behind it is positive. It’s educational,” he said.
“And I definitely want to give shine to my history as a Black person, and educate and empower in that way things that I wish I learned about. So I want to use it as a teaching technique instead of just entertaining.”
Fyütch’s first kid-oriented single, “Black Women in History,” focuses not just on well-known historical figures like Harriett Tubman and Rosa Parks, but on lesser-known “unsung heroes” like Ida B. Wells, Fyütch said. The song was released in January 2021 and has been featured on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live.
“The mission is teaching about things that I wish that I learned in school,” he said. “I just wanted to get some light on just some cool historical information, things that stand out in people’s minds.”
What’s it been like adjusting his musical style to make it work for children?
“I’m a really lyrical artist, I like a lot of words, so knowing, for kids specifically, when I can give them a full verse and when I just need to make it chanty and repetitive, but I really think there’s a lot of crossover appeal between the two, because if you listen to a lot of hip hop nowadays, it’s more chanty, it’s more repetitive, beats are kind of what get people’s attention, so there is crossover in that way,” he said.
“Black Women in History” is featured on Fyütch’s 2021 album “Family Tree,” which is where most of the songs in his two Saturday performances were sourced from.
For Saturday’s shows, which were opened by Miss Alex from the kids-oriented music show Lavender Blues, Fyütch said he loved the energy of the crowd of kids and parents. The event is part of BAM’s ongoing youth fall programming.
“[The kids] don’t really have that ‘chill, I need to be cool,’ filter yet. So it’s like as soon as the beat drops, they start dancing.” Fyütch said.
“If there’s something they like, they’re gonna get it; if it’s a word they like to hear, they’re gonna repeat it. So it’s really pure, the energy.”
“If they’re not feeling it, they’re gonna sit down; if they’re tired, they’re going to take a break. So I really like that immediate response of like, what I’m doing on stage to what they feel,” Fyütch said.
Fyütch also recently released his first Christmas album with Grammy winner Joanie Leeds: “Oy Vey! Another Christmas Album” which shines a light on Christmas songs written by Jewish songwriters.