Tiffany B. Brown

On aging and hip-hop

I’m a rapper, and I just have to be honest, once you get to a certain point — I’m a fan of hardcore rap. Sometimes I like stupid gangsta rap, and I know at a certain age it doesn’t match. I want the raw rap. At a certain age your life changes, at that point you become something else. And I never want to be the uncle or grandfather kind of guy, so I’ll just have to shift my qualities elsewhere, find something else to do.

That’s the ever dapper rapper, Andre 3000 of OutKast in an interview with The Fader.

Hip-hop is now old enough to have a generation gap. I’m fascinated by it as my friends and I get older and find ourselves listening to Sirius XM’s Backspin instead of its hip-hop channel.

Most rappers were in their teens or 20s when they released their first album. And now our icons — Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, etc. — are not just grown-ass men, but middle-aged men. Our rap heroes are now the minivan demographic. What?

And that’s true of its audience as well. We are grown ups now. Some of us even have good jobs. What do you rap about when life is not hard? What do you rap about when you’re too old to be in the club every night? What do you rap about when you’re no longer selling drugs because music pays more? What do you rap about when you are a married dude with kids? Does that even work as material?

That bastion of middle aged smarty-art culture known as NPR waxes nostalgic for Nas’ Illmatic, and in some ways, that feels like an indicator of hip-hop’s cool.

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