Just For Men, the affordable hair coloring product, can do wonders for an aging man. Apply liberally via a comb through and Silver Fox tresses suddenly become fully-restored follicles. If only there was such an elixir for aging rappers.
Hip-hop, however, has always been a young-man’s game as evidenced by early ‘90s prodigies like a Nas and affirmed more recently by acts such as Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug and Chance The Rapper, to name only a few.
Yet as the culture of rap begins to grey we find rappers who are well into their ‘40s, including Jay Z (46), Eminem (44) and Nas (43), still relevant if not productive. These titans of spit are exploring the boundaries of legacy, leveraging their prowess in business deals and touring extensively — in Jay’s case, in a mixture of configurations (Beyoncé and Jay Z, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, album anniversary one-off performances) — in hopes of becoming the Jimmy Iovine or Rolling Stones of hip-hop. It’s a strategy that’s safer to one’s reputation than making new music, where an awkward flow or dated production choices can prove to be damning, relegating an MC to obsolete status.
Which brings us to A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, two groundbreaking New York rap groups who served up classic albums with a healthy sense of self-awareness, righteousness and funky beats.