A handful of rap’s esteemed lyricists weighed in on the subject of ageism within Hip-Hop with Dave East, Big K.R.I.T., and other artists sharing their perspectives on the relevancy and viability of artists rapping at an advanced age.
JFK The Rapper hit the streets to ask a few of his musical peers their thoughts on whether age is a detriment within the genre, which is increasingly becoming populated with veterans creating well into their 50s. Dave East, who’s collaborated on a full-length project with 48-year-old The LOX member Styles P and has worked with Nas, who is 49, says ageism in Hip-Hop has more to do with an artist’s ability to stay creatively fresh than the metric itself.
“I feel like you get yourself old,” the Book of David rapper opined. “I think Hip Hop is something you can stay young in. It’s not like basketball.”
Big K.R.I.T., another artist who’s considered an old soul, noted how genres like rock and pop view and treat their legacy acts in comparison to the younger guard and consumers in the culture. “It’s weird ’cause it is, but it’s not supposed to be,” the 36-year-old said of the specter of ageism. “Hip Hop is a youngin’ genre that we know of right now, so I think about blues and soul, and you talk about them bands they never really dissed the OGs, they never really talked down. They talked about the inspiration.”
Houston hitmaker Paul Wall, the most tenured artist to give his take, says that older artists shouldn’t expect a younger crowd to gravitate to their music and should instead focus on aging with their fanbases, gracefully. “When we came up young, it was young people feeling us, but they aged with us,” Wall said. “So if we old still looking for the old people to follow us, I think we’re on the wrong path.”
Other rap luminaries that took part in the discussion included Statik Selektah, 38 Spesh, and renowned battle rapper and My Expert Opinion host Math Hoffa.