Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
So I found another gray hair this morning. In my beard. That makes number two. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go all out trying to pluck it. But just as I got a decent fingernail grip on the little bastard, I glanced up, saw its older brother, and gave up. I’ll just shave later.
This coming March, of 2016 (God willing I make it in this city), I will turn 40 years old. I’m in just as much shock and awe as you, trust me. Back in my teen years, when I thought I was important and invincible (which I still think I am a little of both), I couldn’t imagine living four decades on this planet. Not that I lived a reckless life or suffered from any form of Tupac Syndrome, I just didn’t have the ability nor desire to envision my life so far in the future. Shit like that only forces you to be responsible for your life, and what teenager wants that? I lived in the moment, shot first — questioned later, risked my personal safety, ignored my instincts, all of that fun kid stuff. But that’s neither here nor there.
Technical truth of the matter is, on an average life span of about seventy-four years, in theory, I’m a little past the halfway marker. That’s crazy. I don’t look 40, and I don’t think I feel 40, which makes it even crazier. I see some of my friends, same age if not a bit younger or older, who look 40 and beyond. Life has taken its toll on them, and I’m not judging one iota. We are all different. Some of us have the Methusalah mutation. Some of us have taken bumpy paths to get here. A half-of-your-life journey can be arduous and strained, depending on the type of luggage you’re carrying. So I get it. I’m just saying.
Gone are my freelance shit-for-brains days, and here I stand, essentially the still the same Hip Hop loving, video game playing dude that I’ve been since the start. I know more about rap music than my 14 year old son and can still smash my other 12 year old son in a rhyme battle with ease. The only true differences between me then and now are the responsibilities I had to master in order to survive at this level of performance. A father, husband, protector, provider, teacher, the list goes on, and it can get exhaustive without the proper foundation. Thankfully I was provided that early enough in life to enough of a degree that I was able to eventually find my own stability and comfort, though it took some lesson-learning and epic head-bumping to get here.
Now, at almost 40, I can say I survived my twenties and made it through my thirties with a more positive, concrete perception on the actuality of reality. I’ve attained a certain amount of indisputable wisdom and intelligence that cannot easily be swayed or dissuaded. I, whether through experience, auxillary education, or a delicate combination of the two, have learned and gone through things that younger, lesser experienced humans have yet to, a veritable “power-up” if you’re a video game nerd. And that’s fucking awesome. As egregious as it may sound, I don’t mind that I’m getting older. It’s okay that I can’t keep up with every trend and hot topic. I gotta job and family and shit. And I’m fine with that.
I don’t need to have the latest and greatest stuff, an impulse that is almost exclusively associated with youth. I’m old enough and mature enough to understand struggle, so now when I see people who are obviously going without, I know that it is not by choice. It really is amazing what you’ll learn if you survive outside of the womb long enough.
Really though, the amount of things I don’t give a fuck about has grown at such a phenomenal pace over the last 10 years that I rarely get excited or tempted. Young homies talk to me about new shoes and I feign interest like a talk show host tolerating a guest with goat mouth. Coworkers tell me about their sexual escapades and I find myself fighting a yawn attack. Plus I almost died, like really almost died, and most things fail in excitable comparison after that. And the last thing most 40 year old men are looking for is excitement. Don’t let him fool you.
As for the music, my opinion differs from a sizable chunk of my peers. I love the new music. I’d go so far as to say I’m up on more new shit than all 3 of my teenage kids. They come asking me have I heard of such and such and I my response, albeit classy yet smug, “I tried to tell you about him last summer.” I believe the music, regardless how you feel about it, keeps you young, and the culture, no matter the perception, is what sustains you. I am Hip Hop, and that shit is a perpetual fountain of youth, bruhs.
When the smoke clears, you youngsters can keep calling “40” old, but best believe you’ll be here in no time. Life comes at you fast. And for the record, I plan on living way more than seventy-four years. I have far too many things to do…