TAKE #18: my faves are getting older :( what does that mean for rap?

Some of my favorite rappers are getting old. Well, they’re getting older. Apparently Tyler is 29 – don’t know when that happened. Donald is 36 YEARS OLD. J. Cole is 35 – which is WILD to me that Donald is older. And Kendrick is 33. And that means that I’m getting older which is also WILD. And something that I’ve been thinking a lot about in regards to them getting older is that I don’t see any of them having making music as their primary occupation at 40. I don’t see albums dropping like that when they’re in their 40s or 50s like Kanye or Jay-Z. Already Kendrick has already gone silent, as far as music goes. And is already in a long-term partnership. Cole is married with two sons. Donald is married with two kids. And all three of them have kind of slowed down in the music arena. Then there are people like Tyler who have maintained from the get-go that making music (although he loves it and will probably always make it privately) was one of many creative outlets that he has, and he isn’t interested in doing it primarily for the rest of his life. I think I was maybe in 11th grade when he was saying he was saying he wanted to direct movies one day, so he was already planning an exit strategy – which I’ve mentioned before as being something extremely important for rappers to consider. And then Denzel in an interview, that I mentioned in that same TAKE, said he has maybe 3 good projects in him before he’s ready to peace out and move on to the next step of his life. And he’s only 25.

So there are those people and examples, along with how YOUNG all of these new rappers are – which that ain’t no problem lol – and how they’re coming and going very quickly. There are people who were coming out when I was going into college that I haven’t heard from in years. People like Lil Yachty, who was supposed to be next up, were replaced by Lil Pump, who was supposed to be next up, and where is he now? And that’s not shade – though…it could be lol – it’s just kind of helping to prove the point that rap is becoming less of a game of longevity than it used to be.

Like, I’m sure that if Tupac and Biggie were still alive, they’d be making music still. Of questionable quality, but I could see them still releasing projects. Kanye’s still releasing projects, Jay-Z’s still releasing projects, and Wayne is still releasing projects. They’re just a few of the many rappers in that generation still rapping, And of course, those guys have projects on the side, but to even be still expecting projects from them is interesting compared to how we never really know if Kendrick or Tyler is going to drop something; we just have to wait and see lol. They could mess around and decide to stop making music today. And there’s nothing wrong with rappers getting older and deciding that they still want to rap, it’s just interesting to see how that’s becoming less of a thing.

People aren’t staying in the rap game for a long time; they’re deciding that they have other creative passions that they want to pursue. And that could be from the example that’s being set by people like Jay and Kanye who have made doing other things a priority. And I think that’s a good thing. People are figuring out that their lives don’t just have to be one thing and are deciding to invest in things outside of rapping. And people are starting to prioritize having families more, which is really beautiful to see. I can’t remember where Schoolboy Q said this – but I’ll add it here, if I find it – but I remember him mentioning somewhere that he wouldn’t be making music and going on tour forever; at some point he just wants to watch his daughter play soccer instead of being on the road for months at a time. It’s admirable that people are investing in themselves, rather than just investing outwardly.

It is a little bit unfortunate that we can’t for sure expect to have someone and their music for 10 years, but I definitely understand. It’s like Andre 3000 said, eventually it’s like seeing your uncle dance at a party. But I do think there is a little bit of a looking down on people who are 60 or 70 years old and they’re still trying to go on tour playing their songs from the 90s or reform a group that broke up 30 years ago to release a project because they don’t know how to stop. I don’t know if there has always been a message of “invest in something else” being told to rappers. It feels like the conversation that is typically had is to be as legendary and long-lasting as possible. I’ve mentioned these lines before, but when Push said “Salute Ross ’cause the message was pure/ He see what I see when you see Wayne on tour / Flash without the fire/ Another multi-platinum rapper trapped and can’t retire,” he was really saying SOMETHING. It’s easy to leave that conversation at “oh, Push was just taking a shot at Wayne,” but I think there’s something more in it than that. There are people who have made platinum selling projects, who, 20-30 years down the line, make an album or a record that sucks. And it ends up being a really big smudge on their career because they didn’t know what else to do other than rap. And that doesn’t always happen, but the chance is always there. And I’m also thinking about the mentorship that’s gonna be lost as folks dip out the game earlier and earlier. Since it’s usually the older generation telling newer folks coming in about things to do and ways to avoid being played, where are newer rappers gonna find that advice?

Lol I don’t know. This is all over the place, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially after listening to “Awaken, My Love!” (2016) and KOD (2018) earlier this week. Maybe I’ll think on it some more and come back with something more cohesive 🙂


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