Aug 7, 2018

Editorial: Rap Don't Pay the Bills by: @RamseySaidWHAT

A friend of mine runs a Facebook group called Hot Topics with Regine. I normally interject every so often but I stay out unless it's a lane I think I can drive in. Awhile ago a question was proposed in this chat group. It's answers to the forthcoming question intrigued and inspired this article. At what age should one stop pursuing a Rap Career?

I graduated last May with a 63 year old man. He and his son, whom was graduating as well, sat in front of me taking their senior yearbook photos. Wide eyed with the world laid out on a table in front of me I was inspired by their story. I had made up my mind that there is always time to continue pursuing your dreams. The members in this facebook group felt differently than a newly inspired Jonathan. At the same time I understand that my views may be a bit cupcakes and bubble gum for some so I decided to ask my timeline on when was an appropriate time to "Get Real."

Upon further evaluation and some serious music listening I've come to a realization. They say rap is a junior's sport but it's crazy that at 26 I relate more to a man who's 40 plus than a comtemporary or peer. An example could be about Shawn Carter's critically acclaimed 4:44. In that album he raps about generational wealth, infidelity, a system that's prejudice towards colored people, keeping money in the family and starting my own business. I can feel that more than a 23 year old singing "Push me to the edge, all of my friends are dead." Why is it that a man almost double my age speaks to me in a way a peer of mine does not? Sure the obvious reason is wisdom over age but my point is: There is a pocket for an elderstatemen to operate in rap. Why should we quit trying to make it at any particular age?

I don't know what it is about the baby boomers but they seem to blame everything on millennials and what we value (considering they pretty much ruined the world and if we are lazy it is subject to how we were raised by that generation but I digress). I just always found it weird that they coupled all millennials together. Frankly we couldn't be more apart.

I've found the kids that grew up before social media was in our lives are different than the ones who grew up on Xbox and Facebook. There's a divide and our parents sent us outside to play rather than sit on our rear end trying to catch a Kangaskhan at Safari Zone. Some of us grew up in Toyz R Us, the rest played on tablets. Not that there's anything wrong with them it's just different. That's the difference between the Lil's and Ab-Soul's. Not that there isn't room for each to operate but social cues are missed and values are different with the whippa-snappas. I'm trying not to sound like a hip-hop purist or an old head that ONLY listens to Milkbone, Cypress Hill and Scarface (because I don't, I like Future too). I wasn't always on board with this thought process. I figure some of you guys just don't have the skills or formula to succeed in this thing. That is, until I read what the first commenter on the status had to say.

"You're never too old to reach the masses?" Shayla Simone

Although I disagreed Shayla was on to something. For so long the genre has been Misunderstood and Misconstrued (the title of my senior thesis I refer back to often). It's put in a negative light that other genres don't have to combat. I'll explain that later, but here's the other side of the debate. Let's face it, music isn't completely about talent. It hasn't been for a long time. If that were the case I wouldn't have created a platform like this for those who haven't been heard yet. If music were about talent a lot of these *insert meme celebrity turned rapper here* wouldn't exist. I won't namedrop, you already have a bunch of names in your head. Another thing is promotion (I wrote a whole piece about this). If you're twenty something still making music and it's dope, does it matter if no one heard it? How long are you supposed to keep at it rather than just sticking to your day job? Being a starving artist is cool for aesthetic and all but are you really going t.o be that 35 year old dude at the open mics performing hood classics a decade old? No shade, I mean that guy can be one re-brand away from stardom. Don't believe me, ask Titty Boi aka 2 Chainz

Looking back on that facebook post it was only I and the aforementioned Shyla who said to never stop rapping. All great ideas are met with resistance and in this case: a plethora of comments of people telling me I sound like a hurt rapper who hasn't popped yet. In which I responded like so...

Moving on I thought, Why do they put an age limit on rap and no other genre of music?  I once read something Grandmaster Flash said about hip hop and how we need to change the status quo:

"In rock and jazz, they go into the archives. I consider myself an expert in most music, but I can still look at a jazz historical program and say, 'Wow, I didn't  know that.' I watched a concert with the Rolling Stones, and 70 percent of the audience was kids! Somebody must've told them that these people were incredible before they were even born, and they went to go look. We need to do that for hip hop."

The pioneer is right. I get it rap doesn't pay the bills for most of us common folk but why should we continue to limit ourselves. Hip-hop has been an outlet for people 16, 26, and maybe one day a 60 year old can flourish from. Would people put Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, or even Prince (God rest his soul) in that box? If Mick Jagger as old as he is can parade around in tighter pants than your girlfriend and monetize why should rap be confined to being a young man's game? Why should rap do that too? What do you think? Is the dream too much? Is rap too over saturated? Should soundcloud rappers just quit and keep their job at Target? Leave your input in the comment section below.
Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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