Monday, March 2, 2009

What Is "Too Old" to Hip Hop?

Hip hop has no age limit or size requirement. If you're at least "this" tall, you can roll with the culture. No problems given, no questions asked.

But Rap, the musical facet of the movement, is more micro-cosmic, with it's own set of personalized regulations. I'm not referring to "don't snitch" & "never out-rhyme your boss", those go without saying. I mean the ubiquitous guidelines that make rappers bonafide "Rap Superstars".

Youth is a major cog in that system. Think car transmission, as opposed to the entire engine. "Rap" wasn't born in some apartment by a couple of windbags watching The Price Is Right. It began on the street, in the park, at the parties. Call me old fashioned, but there's something about adult children & crow's feet that make it hard for me to believe in middle aged pseudo-gangsta rhetoric. Some are authentic of course, but others, simply put, need more people.

I think it's scientifically impossible for a 43 year old man to have "swag", much less covet endless scallywags, shoot up enemy tour buses & relieve third world Kingpins of their product. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped blowing up robots & murdering alien headhunters once it was time to "Just for Men" his salt & pepper coiffure. How much "gangsta" still exists outside of the studio when you start scheduling prostate exams? Point is, we all grow up eventually, & contrary to popular belief, there's nothing wrong with that.

Rap is a career, I get it. So, instead of an annual "farewell" album, just let the music mature, as it's supposed to, & let the voice of the young generation (no Kanye West) be just that. I don't think artists should ever "retire", but their material should at least grow with their core audience. The same core audience that was there when the "fifteen minutes" began. The same core audience that will still be there when the microwave dings & the Internets suck them dry in search of the next soul to devour.

Loyal die hards don't give a shit about a ridiculous dance. They can care less if royalty & SSI checks come on the same day. They're in it for the music, as we all should be. Diamond lane time for those with experience, dig? Get the torch, light your fire, pass the torch & the circle of life continues.........

For argument's sake; Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, 39. Calvin "Snoop Dogg" Broadus, 37. Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, 43, Joseph "Fat Joe" Cartagena, 39, O'Shay "Ice Cube" Jackson, 39, Earl "E-40" Stevens, 41, to name a few.