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Old Washed-Up Rappers!

August 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( We’ve all witnessed the sad sceen before: once spry and energetic rappers who have overstayed their welcome to the genre and now, well, they’re just old.

Looking at an old rapper that has clearly seen younger days and is now trying to catch their breath in between lyrics is like being a witness to elder abuse. There’s just nothing cool about seeing someone who is, in many cases, a grandparent trying to recapture the swagger of a wild-eyed and foolish teenager.

This is not to say that older rappers don’t necessarily have anything to say. On the contrary. A lot of times age and wisdom help to temper the tone and the message. Well, they should help to calm down the message. OldAssRappers-2014Unfortunately what we see in today’s lyrically vapid rap world is evidence that a toned down message is about as appealing as trying to light a match in the middle of an ALS ice bucket challenge.

A prime example of this is Mr. William Leonard Roberts II, rap name Rick Ross. In one of his songs this former correctional officer thought it would be a good idea to wax philosophical about rape. In ”U.O.E.N.O” he said, “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it./I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” Molly is the date rape drug. The overwhelming backlash that he received from many different communities of women forced him to make an apology.

The visual of Rick Ross is equally as offensive as his lyrics. For the most part if you can imagine Jabba-the-Hut with a b-cup, give him a beard, drop him in hot boiling oil until he’s nice and crispy, then dress him in baggy jeans and a wife beater t-shirt (nowadays he’s sporting a much smaller frame thanks to losing a lot of weight), you’ve pretty much nailed it.

To top it off, he’s almost 40 years old and worked in law enforcement. He should know better! As a matter of fact, he does know better. Pacing around back and forth on stage is a high intensity cardio workout for him!

Women aren’t immune from this spectacle either. Kimberly Denise Jones, aka Lil’ Kim, with her multiple attempts, and fails, at plastic surgery has succeeded in making herself look like the abandoned love child of Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson. At 40-years-old she should be the respected den mother for all of the female rappers coming after her. Ironically, maybe she is.

Rap music is primarily an extension of urban youth culture. Why? It is no accident that the newest trends in fashion, art, literature, music and other forms of artistic expression come from the bravado and counter-culture that is often embodied by the creativity of young people. As you get older you mellow out. It’s just nature, and sometimes nature is the best judge of when it’s time to hang up the mic, or at least seriously consider doing so.

There are some artists who have maintained their timelessness in spite of their age. It’s rare, but not impossible. But to every Jay-Z and Eminem (both of whom are over 40) there’s a gaggle of old wheezing rappers running around in oversized t-shirts that look more like a circus sideshow than artists who should even be considered being taken seriously.

Unlike other forms of music, rap demands a certain type of authenticity that is often weighed more heavily than training or ivory tower pedigree. In other words no one cares if you graduated magna cum laude from Harvard majoring in classic English literature. Additionally no one cares if your daddy was Curtis Blow. All that matters is what kind of skills you have on the mic.

Old rappers, at least the good ones, never stop learning. The older they get and the more they do it the better at rapping they become. Couple that with the fact that many of these rappers became household names when rap was becoming the national and international cultural force that it is today. Leaving the spot light is not a very easy task for many of them.

People seem to forget that many of these rappers hit it big when they were in their late teens and early twenties. Fast forward twenty-years and now they’re in their 40’s and 50’s. A lot of them, having pioneered an art form that celebrates the creativity of youth, have found leaving the limelight to be very difficult.

But that doesn’t mean that they should stay around longer than is necessary. Gray hairs poking out from underneath your dew rag, and sagging pants that show you’re wearing depends underneath is not a good way to go out. Be that guiding voice in the background, the one in the wings that says “do this, don’t do that.” Let the new generation have their turn.

The LL Cool J’s, Ice-T’s, Ice Cube’s, Common’s, Queen Latifah’s and Will Smith’s of the world have provided invaluable guidance to a host of young rappers on how, after a few years, it becomes necessary to reinvent yourself. Running out of breath after jumping around on stage, taking your shirt off to show a big ole belly and tripping in heels that are too high (and have been for the past decade) is not the most dignified thing an aging rapper can or should do. Pass the baton before you pass out. 

Staff Writer; Steven Robinson

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6 Responses to “Old Washed-Up Rappers!”
  1. Mike says:

    I don’t think the writer is throwing shade at older rappers. Clearly he states that “as they get older they get better”. What it seems like he’s saying is that the more youthful, running around on stage with your pants halfway down should be left to the younger acts. There is room in rap music for all ages. I too grew up on rap music and there are many artist that I would love to see perform. But, at my current age (almost 50) I am not entertained by someone pushing the envelope of shock value. It’s not necessary. The lyrics and the beats are what I crave, not the entertainer being a half dressed, foul-mouthed spectacle. As far as other genres, yes, R&B, Country Western, Jazz, Rock and even aging pop stars still have careers that are not dependent on spectacle. Older rappers should be the same way.

  2. Dee Grey says:

    I like this article, but then I say to myself ROLLING STONES been doin there thing 50 years country singers go on stage until th hey die James Brown performed the week he died and he was in his 70’s. If people still want your music give it to them!!! If there is an honest dollar to be earned by all means earn it. In these times I wish Public Enemy would go on tour NWA FUCK THE POLICE your would make millions. I bought an Outkast CD in 9 th grade. Are you sayin they should step aside and let chief keef represent HIP HOP?? I love the culture and enjoy listening to the guys I grew up listening to, Why is it black people always have an issue with what yt? ge next man is doing?? Brothers hating on brothers sisters hating on sisters, yet Tim McGraw has been rocking with grey hair for 20 years and his WHITE FANS NEVER SAY. HES TOO OLD. just a thought

  3. Dam C says:

    I am 35 years old and I have been listening and writing hiphop music since I can remember.I think its wrong that our culture is the only one who is s o judgemental.Which coast the music came from, how old is the artist.If it sounds good,then buy it or support it.Ms.Scripter was right,why is HipHop music the only genre to do that?You dont hear about west coast country music, or east coast rock n roll.Its just music.HipHop is dead though.There are a few but not enough to keep the music as impactful as it once was.

    Music over Money.

  4. Leo says:

    I guess this was a stab at satire, but you failed on this one. Regardless of how old these artists are, the young ones of today could not hold a mic to them. Hip Hop has been dead for a long time and I have yet to see any of these new ones have the skills to resurrect the genre other than the white rappers who have better lyrical content.

  5. Respecthiphop says:

    I am on the fence on this argument. I just seen an interview with a Wu Tang rapper who said that rappers should stop at 50, but he also said you should keep going if you still have it. I believe that we need to continue to credit the veteran rappers as much as we can, but also to a certain degree. However, by crediting them we can only do so by attending some of their shows or their concerts. I also do believe that since hip hop is driven by the young culture the lyrics that come along with the music can be dated.

    So in a sense there are only a couple of hip hop songs not rappers that can be timeless. One that comes to mind is Summer Time. However, some other songs that reference, beepers, year in the making or anything hot at that time will not be understood unless you were part of that time. Is a difficult balance.

    I think that the best way to go about listening to “old rappers” is to attend shows such as the one that had LL, Ice Cube, PE and De La. You are getting a lot and the crowds that will come to listen to them will be a mix of cultures. When you have a mixture of culture there may be a mutual understanding that everyone is there to listen to the music and not judge the legends by their age.

    I do think however that as rappers get older they have to evolve and the only one that has been able to do this is Jay-Z in my mind. If I am not mistaken he plays sideline to the new acts but also holds his own. Him and Kanye were like Belichick and Brady.

  6. MsScripter says:

    Why does THIS genre always have to disregard veteran rappers, when they reach certain age. I will still pay to see and hear new material from KRS-One, Chuck D, and other veteran acts who has something to say.

    The rock and pop genre does not have that problem. The Rolling Stones, Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen, Prince and Madonna are well over their 50’s and are still rocking and gaining new fans. The Rolling Stones look like a corpse with guitars and drum sticks, but no one is complaining about that!

    Rap music is only 40 years old, so why are we kicking out veterans who started this just because they aren’t teens? Give it a rest, music is music and shouldn’t have an age requirement to continue to rock the mic. Lastly, some of these young folks that are getting these contracts are dumbing down the environment and they are in their early 20’s.

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