There is a steady argument in rap music that after a certain age, one can no longer actively rap. Even though the age of your favorite rapper is probably closer to 40 than 20, the “age limit” seems to be about 30. After a rapper’s third decade, oftentimes he is deemed “old” and fans – the same ones who tirelessly championed him previously – will begin to turn on him. I see it happen every year. The old saying goes, “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” but in rap music, that can’t be further from the truth.
Rap music is packaged as a young man’s sport, but take a look at the current rosters and playlists. Based on my findings, most current model hit makers are an average of 35 years old. Granted, there are a handful of new kids making waves, giving country to the illusion of a rap game Lord of the Flies, but rap music is only about 40 years old. There wasn’t a chance for “old rappers” to thrive because…they weren’t old yet! Now we have men in their 30s and 40s still cranking out solid music. Age and experience have crossed paths and the resulting wisdom is light years away from whatever party and bullshit they were glorified for previously. Take Jay Z, for example. Young Thug, America’s favorite freelance coon, said he doesn’t listen to Jiggaman because he’s too old. He even went so far as to say he won’t be rapping after a certain age. Now, while Young Thug’s words hold minimal amounts of validity, he’s not the only youngin that’s thinks like this. It’s hilarious how young people think they’ll be young forever.
But let’s flip that coin…
As a man in my late 30s, I’m not necessarily a fan of the younger generation. I was a kid once, but then I became a man and put away my childish things. At that point, maturity conquers recklessness, and one begins to perceive life from an adult perspective. That said, I can only tolerate so much whoopin’ and hollerin’ about money, drugs, sex, and violence, and that seems to be all that a healthy chunk of young MCs rap about. That’s not going to change any time soon, I know. Not only have I accepted it, but I embrace it. That doesn’t mean I can’t shake my fist at these whippersnappers and tell ’em to get real jobs before they fuck the culture up even more.
Shit. It’s too late.
Should we be clamoring for more music that teaches and educates while it entertains? Is contemporary rap music merely urban legend? Or is the rap music’s general nature young, wild, and reckless beyond recognition? For every young MC screaming at rappers about being too old – ultimately disrespecting the very trailblazers that made them able to volley such opinions, we should be yelling back that perhaps it’s time to grow up a little. They’ll have to eventually, no? At that point, they then become the cats that are too old to rap, and apparently, the cycle continues.
I believe there’s enough room in rap music for all ages, colors, creeds, social backgrounds, etc. What say you?
Words by Tony Grands
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