Aging is inevitable.
Hip-Hop/Rap is a relatively new genre of music in comparison to others that have been around historically. It’s a reflection of the final release of freedom of an entire community (black) people, that have been suppressed and unable to creatively express themselves as openly as they want for centuries. Rap is here and has transformed the world, and with it’s emergence has come an entirely new sub culture and lifestyle of the likes the world has never seen before. However, rap does not have an “older” legend. And by older I mean 60+, elderly. We have not yet witnessed what happens to our rappers and our genre that is heavily influenced by violence, drugs, money,and multiple women once they reach the elderly ages.
So with this I bring about the question: What happens when Rap and our favorite rappers get old?
I’ll start with a few of the relatively older rappers, who’s decline we are currently witnessing such as Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and Kanye West, all 30+. Lil wayne was once revered as one of the greatest rapper of all time with classic albums/mixtapes such as No Ceilings, the Drought 3, and Tha Carter 3 during the early 2000’s. His bars and use of metaphors were unmatched. His heavily documented use of codeine and stint in prison, is similar to the paths of many of our favorite artist and seems to be just a part of the rapper lifestyle. However 33, is viewed as relatively “young” in our society. Could Wayne possibly keep up this lifestyle into his his 50’s, 60’s even and keep up the persona that is Lil Wayne? Gucci Mane was recently released from prison at the age of 36 and the mixtape LEGEND is still producing music that we can vibe and turn up too. However after gucci’s recent release from prison it was evident that there was a change in lifestyle, so to speak, from the time he went into prison and the time he came out.
In his first song on the album Everybody Looking, No Sleep (intro), Gucci states:
“I can’t even sleep I got so much to say
Ex-drug dealer, used to sell a brick a day
I can’t even sleep I got so much to say
Recovering drug addict, I used to drink a pint a day
I can’t even sleep I got so much to say
Recovering drug addict, I used to smoke a pound a day”
Is this Gucci going through a change in lifestyle that many in our society experience in our mid 20’s after giving up the youthful care free way of life? What happens to the Jeezy beef as he gets older? Will he be rap’s first example of a true street legend turning into an elderly man?
Then there is the narcissistic 39 year old Chicago rapper, Kanye West, who has never been viewed as a “gangster rapper” but has been just as influential and outspoken as anyone in the rap genre. Is Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s lifetime achievement award and proclaiming Beyonce is “the greatest singer of all time” at age 60? Is he still going on crazed twitter rants aimed at men lusting over old pictures of his wife? It seems Kanye is going in the direction of a family man with the recent birth of his son Saint and the growth of North. Only time will tell the change and I would love to witness it.
Then there is the new age style of rap, where the beats are almost more important than the lyrics themselves, with up and coming artist and producers such as Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, 21savage, Metro Boomin, Burberry Perry, and Sonny Digital. The new age of rap is focused on the freedom to talk about whatever the hell they may have experienced that day, and making a catchy up-tempo, bass heavy song about it. Some may view it as rap dying, but I see it as rap simply evolving and becoming even more revolutionary than the artists who were putting out music before. The new rappers are bold and not afraid to be different, as evident with Yachty’s red beaded-dreads, and Lil Uzi’s purple hair and rock-star clothing. Is this the new direction that our genre is headed in? Will these new age rappers be paying homage to cemented legends like Gucci and Lil Wayne, in the way that other artists in other genres pay homage to those before them? (see Chris Brown Tribute Michael Jackson)
We will only be able to wait and see what happens when our favorite rappers of the past age. I can only hope that rap is here to stay and that new talent will continue to evolve the culture and keep the community engaged.
I want Future to perform “March Madness” when I’m 50, and still feel the same way I did when I was 21.
By Keith Haynie, Editor in Chief