There’s this myth that you can be too old to rap as if there is some sort of age you reach where you suddenly become too senile to be able to spit.
With age comes wisdom. For those of you that aspire to be successful in life however you define it, you can take solace in the fact that the majority of super successful people only truly found their feet well into their 40’s. Some even later than that. I’m certainly nowhere near 40 at the time of writing this but I still look back at how quick my life has gone as we all do. It does remind me how important it is to realise that life is very short and your time should not be squandered.
I look back at when I was 18 and how I used to think about the world, what I know and am able to do now vs what I knew and was able to do then and I feel very positive. When I was 18 I really didn’t know how to rap, I didn’t have clue how to make beats, nor DJ. Though it was something I was interested in.
Due to diligent practice and choosing what to do with my time wisely (at least some of the time), I’ve managed to get to the point where I am now and I look with positive anticipation as to the years that lie ahead (kind of ironic considering my last post was titled ‘The Power of Now’ I know…. Sod off you nit picking ball bags!!!)
So with all this in mind I wonder why there is this stigma attached to being an older rapper even in this day and age where rap as an art form has really started to reach a certain level of maturity. I’m talking across the whole genre of course, not just the commercial based music.
I remember reading an interview with MF Doom where he was talking about this too. I remember he referenced a friend of his that also emceed and he would use the line;
Doom even used that line on one of the songs off the Madvillany album.
To be honest it’s true! Why should age matter in rap? How can you be too old to rap? It’s not like you all of a sudden forget how to do it. If anything your skills improve. The only potential negative side effect I can see is the increased likelihood of one losing ones hunger for it. Though I would argue that if you truly love the art form at the very core then there’s a slim chance of that ever happening.
The funny thing is this stigma doesn’t seem to be attached to other forms of music. No one thinks less of jazz musicians, or folk musicians for being older. To some degree they’re almost expected and admired for this. Kind of like you’re hearing music from wise elders.
One might argue that both those forms of music evolved before youth culture really started to gain worldly recognition. Therefore it is expected, as youth has not necessarily been seen as being synonymous with the average jazz or folk musician.
But there are holes in that argument too. Look at rock music! This has been considered a youthful form of music. But look at the Rolling Stones. They’re certainly no spring chickens, yet they’re still going to this day. No one’s told them they’re too old yet…. and why should they??
Perhaps the reason is because rap and hip hop subculture is seen as a more insular thing despite its popularity, its ubiquity and what is now considered a deep history.
I don’t know what the reason really is but I do know that I’m never going to let something as benign as the date on my birth certificate dictate what I can and can’t do especially when its my love and passion.
One positive thing I will say, is the tide does appear to being turning with regards to this stigma. People still want to listen to KRS One despite him pushing 50 and the likes of Jay Z and Eminem are still considered to be bossing it professionally in the world of rap even though they’re now in their 40’s. I remember Eminem once say, “If I’m still rapping at 40, someone please slap me off the stage!” It’s kind of ironic now as I don’t see, nor hear anyone likely to do that at the level he is at. Maybe an old dog can still flip a few tricks…
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