"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 firstname.lastname@example.org, on his website, www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).