Children’s Story: Should Hip-Hop Have a Mandatory Retirement Age?

“He never grew up/ Thirty-one and can’t give his youth up” – “Second Childhood”, Nas

Fred G is texting his homie, Shady Grady, making last minute plans for his birthday as he places his fitted NY Yankee cap over his freshly done braids. After wipin’ down his brand new pair of kicks, he makes sure that his skinny jeans are saggin’ just right as he gets ready to hit the club. That is, right after he drops his grandkids off at the babysitter and slides by the drugstore to get his Viagra. After all, it’s not everyday that you turn 60…

More than 30 years since its birth, Hip-Hop is experiencing an early, middle-age crisis. It is increasingly hard to tell the difference between a veteran rapper who has been in the game for 20 years and one who was born in the ’90s. What Chuck D once called the “CNN of Black America” has now become, to borrow from Slick Rick, a “children’s story.”

It is time that we seriously ask the question, “Should Hip Hop have a mandatory retirement age?”

Anytime 16-year-old Diggy Simmons, is spittin’ better lyrics then grown men twice is age, something is terribly wrong.

Neely Fuller in his book, The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept, wrote that a child is, “regardless of age in years, any person who is helpless in thinking, speaking, and or acting and who must depend on a man or women for help in each and every area of activity including economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics religion, sex and war.”

So, we are not talking about the number of candles on a birthday cake, but a level of maturity.

This is especially important to study when you have 40-year-old artists signing with record companies that cater to teeny boppers or doing duets with rappers who are young enough to be their sons. Recently, both Busta Rhymes and Mystikal signed with YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires). Unfortunately, in these cases, the youth are having a greater impact on the elders than the elders are having on the youth.

Just look at the complexity of Busta Rhyme’s lyrics 20 years ago when he was with the Leaders of the New School (LONS) as compared to his recent work, proving that you can have a sick, supersonic, 60-bars-a-second flow and still say absolutely nothing of substance. If you you don’t believe me, just go back and listen to his verse on the LONS’s joint, “Understanding The Inner Minds Eye (TIME)”, where he spits, “It’s kinda ill when you don’t know what time/ Or whose time you are living in,” and compare it with his song with Lil Twist. I rest my case.

Although, Knowledge is infinite, when time is out of whack, ignorance becomes infinite and regression becomes perceived as progression. So, rappers that spit ignorance are seen as hot, but those who drop knowledge are seen as “old school,” even though they may be a decade younger than the dudes propagating ignorance.

The worst example of the imbalance in Hip-Hop is the scandal that broke last month when 40-something-year-old rapper, Too Short, gave a video interview teaching boys who haven’t even entered puberty how to mack the lil’ honeys. According to Dr. William Grier and Dr. Price Cobbs in their work, Black Rage, this imbalance stems from the pressures that Black males are “seen as the ultimate in vitality and masculine vigor,” but at the same time are “regarded as socially, economically and politically castrated in performing every other masculine role.” And the inability to deal with this contradiction is handed down from older males to the younger generation.

Like most other social problems, the arrested development of Hip-Hop is not by accident. According to The Black Dot, former member of the ’80s Hip-Hop group, Tall, Dark and Handsome, and author of the underground book, Hip Hop Decoded, the genre has been made stagnant by design and hasn’t moved forward in the last 10 years.”

Could it be that the “powers that be ” have developed a program to manipulate time in order to stop the social, economic, and political progression of oppressed communities?

Although the late writer, Del Jones, claimed that Hip-Hop was stolen by “culture bandits,” the fact is that the genre is a victim of something even more sinister – time bandits.

Michael Bradley, author of The Ice Man Inheritance, has a theory called “the Cronos complex,” which is man’s attempt to control time in order to retard the development of future generations. Bradley wrote that Western man has created various mechanisms to “hold the future back, to limit their offspring’s access to progress” and to” hurt the future, cripple it with casualties and thereby compromise its ability to surpass them.”

As Dr. Carter G. Woodson wrote in The Mis-Education of the Negro, “Once you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.” So those who control the economics of, not only, the music industry, but the entire planet, don’t have to worry about grown men and women with child-like mentalities ever challenging the current socio-economic order. Even if rappers become billionaires, they will just waste their money on buying bigger toys.

Regardless of who caused the stagnation of the culture, Hip-Hop needs to grow up.

While some may disagree with placing a retirement age on rappers, we must place a limit on the dissemination of ignorance. We need a new rule in Hip-Hop that says that no rapper over 30 should ever, ever be allowed on the set of BET’s 106th and Park. Or at least we should start some Rites of Passage program for rappers.

If not we will be headed for an odd future where grown men continue to exhibit mindless behavior.

Like Wu-Tang Clan said on “A Better Tomorrow”:

“You can’t party your life away/ drink your life away/ smoke your life away/ cuz your seeds grow up the same way.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website, www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • Sonya Miller

    this is stupid do white ppl put a age limit on there artist NO if you keep putting out good records I dont care if you rap to 50 cause truth be told the younger rappers don’t talk about a dam thing on there records but talk and stunt about shit they don’t even own I miss the 90’s rap N.W.A, Death Row, Def Jam , Bad Boy, No Limit, Rap A Lot, Roc A Fella, Cash Money, Wu Tang, and more

  • captainco9

    we can’t appreciate older rappers because hiphop is still young.  artist like paul mccartney still put out lp’s dean martin and a list of others do too. they also still sell. people should be happy that artist like too short, jz, e40, mystical,bust rhymes, common  still put out good music. it gives a balance to hiphop. it makes it more diverse. it makes hiphop last longer. I’m still waiting on detox and dr dre is 50. next artist to be 40 are jeezy, andre 3000, kanye, eminem, and thats just to name a few. should they retire? hell no the game would be fucked.  

  • to me it looks like the more poverty is gone, the more people rap about stupid shit. i guess its because they dont have any bigger problems no more than gettin puss and doe. this probably is a result of the new hiphop cats ere born in the 90’ies and gre up to bullshit type of hiphop music with noe educational subtance

    • The technical term is ” CRACK BABIES “.

  • sonya… totally agree with ur comment.. maybe u should leave the early cash money out of the list and add some of the pioneers like kras-one or even ice cube and definalty guru and all of the “real” hiphop heads like common, nas mos def an so on, who really opened up your mind and made u think 

  • Sho Tunez

    Not a retirement, but you shouldn’t be dissin other rappers when you 40+ for publicity. There need to be growth, expansion. If you been doin it a minute, you should be in position to do other things and not need to drop an album to stay relevant.

  • Whether an emcee is 20 yrs old or 40 yrs old, it all boils down to lyrical skill and the subject matter in one’s material.  

    • KRS One = Prime example , he’s 45? & will still rip any MC out there.
      ANY MC.

  • Derrick Yelnats

    I dont believe Hip-Hop should have an age limit but I do think we as The Hip-Hop Culture, needs to push for different sub-genre in Hip-Hop (Rap music) . Treat it like Rock Music & Country Music.
    How can you be to old , if you was born into the Hip-Hop Lifestyle ?

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  • water_ur_seeds

    no other music discriminates against older people… its only wack when the older dudes ‘try’ to act young, just act your age and be true to yourself, then its cool… nothing worse/awkward then seeing an old dude try to look young wearing the ‘latest fashion trends’… cube still looks cool, but dudes like mc hammer who pop up on this site time to time look stupid trying act young with their attire…

    • Tony G.


  • Kinfolk D-Ray

    Good article!

  • That’s crazy dog , baby don’t need that kind of sht.

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  • Tony G.

    absolutely not…..when u have this watered down stuff that these young rappers are putting out today..u need the older substance to balance out the bs

  • The problem with this thinking is Hip Hop is always gonna be viewed as new. No one wants to be out the loop even if they came up on the hottest emcee 4 years ago !! If he’s viewed as wack by the majority, peeps will on the forefront ignore him even if on the low is still feeling his music. Another thing is, peeps don’t ever want to admit how mainstream they really are in Hip Hop !! If you’re feeling the hottest emcee thats getting major radio and video play regardless of his style or sound, thats mainstream love. The fact that Hip Hop is all about competition, new fans as well as rappers don’t want to duel with a proven vet with game. They would rather call them old school and demand them to step aside even if they’re still repping better than the new jack. The closest thing Hip Hop has as a mirror is Basketball, the new players want all the glory, the fans want new faces but the old players that still got game don’t want to step off and honestly, why should they ? If they still got a nice flow, heavy concepts as well as a fan base, why disappear from the limelight ?

  • LetsBeRealpeople

    AHH, you are on point with this article. The call out on Busta is spot the f/ck on.

    Rap is repetition, and the speakers have been junked up for 16 years. Rap is the sport of words, and folks now have bought their spot on the team.

    The hope is those who started “taking over the game” with no contest for the past 16 years are getting old, and trying to redefine their throne.

    Rap is a young man arena and it’s the people who choose the winner with the best skill.

    There is time for play, but the bottom line is you have to have a message and a skill.

    Anybody with know how that will subject themselves to a crtical audience can survive the game. At some point you will be challenged and a new skillset, a new message will win the people. What we learned is sometes not all of us are signed on, and will wait until a new regime takes us to the id of hip hop.

    Anyway, glad you started in on this AHH.

    • Forgot about the Busta Ryhmes call out…. definitely on point.

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  • torreysn

    Damn,im a big RAKIM fan the best line for line ryhming out there STILL check out the 18th Latter,The Master and the Seventh Seal,just when you thought a emcee could’tn grow more lyricly from his old shit and he is old school but is spitting real hip hop.And they say hip hop is for the youth,you want your son following the same steps BITCHEIS,HOES,RIMS and DURUGS.

    • ***KRS-ONE

    • the1stschool

      Hit it dead on Bro

  • torreysn

    Lil Wayne,Jeezy,Gucci and every other real nigga rapper our product of there enviorment,local drug deallers with mics and the hood is filled with a bunch of these muthafuckas.Like Black Thought sad”we losing sight on what garbage means”.I think im off subject couse im tired of the bull shit.

  • I like Too Short , but the macking on lil kids bit was wack.

  • Maitreya One

    nope we should not have a retirement age look at what Krs one is rapping about he shows growth!

  • Thoughtsareus

    Hell No because most of the best emcee’s are atleast 31. As long as your dope keep rocking. If your young it doesn’t mean you should be there more than the old heads either. Skills should be the approval.

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  • No, I’d rather bump a older MC than a new rapper. These new rappers have no substance nor content! New rappers need to take up the class HIP-HOP 101!

  • Wisdom D

    Hip Hop is a culture and should never be defined by a person’s age only by their contribution to the movement of enlightening a generation either by bringing social or political issues to the forefront.  Unfortunately, hip hop poets have been drowned out by main stream garbage to keep the youth glorifying the pangs of poverty to justify criminal behavior.  Real hip hop will never leave the listener wondering or questioning its validity, regardless of the age of the messenger.