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VanVan, 4, raps about her ABCs and 123s

Savannah McConneaughey, right, poses with her father Reggie and mother Kenya.
Reggie McConneaughey
Savannah McConneaughey, right, poses with her father Reggie and mother Kenya.

Updated May 16, 2023 at 12:21 PM ET

Savannah McConneaughey got her start in music like most four-year-old rap stars: by watching Frozen. Her dad, Reggie, was impressed by how quickly she memorized songs. Soon, he started posting videos of her singing on TikToK.

"I was like 'yo, this little girl's amazing,'" the older McConneaughey told NPR's Morning Edition.

His daughter raps about everything from playing with him to what she's learning in school. "I like to rap about my ABCs and my 123s," Savannah said. "It makes me happy."

Dozens of videos on TikTokand Instagram show Savannah, who goes by "therealvanvan" on social media, freestyle rapping with some encouragement from her dad. Some of the videos have scored millions of views.

In "Playing Outside Everyday," she dances to the beat while rapping the lyrics "My name is VanVan / Ain't no time to play / Playing outside, everyday." It's her most popular TikTok post, with more than three million views.

McConneaughey said his daughter picks out her own beats to serve as a backing track to her songs. As for the lyrics, McConneaughey insists they're Savannah's own work — no ghostwriting from dad here.

"She just kind of comes up with what she says," he added. "Sometimes, the pattern might throw her off, so I help her get back on beat."

As she eases into her newfound fame, Savannah says she likes watching people react to the videos online. "Everyone's dancing and singing to it," she said. "It makes me happy."

Her dad, who runs the TikTok account, often tags the videos with race-aware hashtags like #brownskingirl and #blackgirlmagic.

"My daughter's a beautiful young lady, and I want to make sure that people will see how beautiful she is," he said. "She's beautiful to me, beautiful to her mom. Her spirit is beautiful."

The McConneaugheys say they want to avoid rushing a potential career for Savannah, all too aware of the pitfalls of stardom at such a young age and the struggles that can ensue.

The McConneaugheys say they want to avoid rushing a potential music career for Savannah.
/ Reggie McConneaughey
/
Reggie McConneaughey
The McConneaugheys say they want to avoid rushing a potential music career for Savannah.

"We are the decision makers when it comes to those kinds of things," said Savannah's mom, Kenya. "We want to make sure that we keep her innocent and make sure she stays her sweet little self."

There's a lot in the works for Savannah — she just recorded a studio version of "Playing Outside Everyday" and she'll be making a music video soon. She's also starring in the upcoming film Crossover: The Revenge. But when asked what she was most excited about this year, the young star only had one thing in mind.

"I'm excited to be a big sister!" Savannah exclaimed.

Adam Bearne and Olivia Hampton contributed editing. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mansee Khurana