Obviously when you say “older” rapper, the first thing that comes to your mind is guys like Jay-Z, Em, Nas, Andre 3000. But do you mean “older” in a bad way? In an irrelevant way? In a wiser way? Any way you put it, the “older” cats who hit it big back in the late 90s are still out here trying to bring heat to their fans. Many are doing it pretty well still, but most are not. Not everyone can be married to the hottest chick in the game, owner of an NBA team, and worth well over 9 figures by the time they hit 40. But hey, that’s why there’s only one Jay-Z. This article discusses some of the rappers we all grew up listening to and how they did in 2011 as well as what the future holds for them. Hit the jump for today’s Year In Review topic.
YEAR IN REVIEW TOPIC #2: Are The “Older” Rappers Still Making Impacts In The Game?
This question may cause a little irritation amongst some of the older, die-hard Hip Hop fans because many do not want to let go of the glory days of some of their favorite rappers. But the world works the way it works and people get older, lose their step, and have to retire. Hip Hop has now become a more matured genre in the sense that the guys who were starting out in the early days have ended their careers and there has been various new generations of rappers and MCs. In our current state of Hip Hop, there are a bevy of “older” rappers still trying to bring home some cheese for the fam. In analyzing the impacts of these older rappers, we’ll star with the megastars and move on from there.
First and foremost we got the most successful “older” rapper and that is none other than the man Sean “Jay-Z” Carter. I honestly don’t have to say too much about this legend. 2011 was crazy for Hov (not even including the new of his wife’s pregnancy) and he again found a way to stay a-top the throne (see what I did there?). No solo records for Jay but WTT was an enormous success along with the tour he is currently rapping up. He dominated some big features including one for his first artist J. Cole. Finally, the man eats lunch/breakfast/dinner with the president, the mayor or another millionaire/billionaire every week. Talk about boss status. Hov, now and forever, will be the greatest.
Moving on to someone who will challenge Hov for that crown any year (that he’s sober), and we got Marshall Mathers. Em returned to the rap game in May of 2009 after a long battle with drug addiction. Many claimed Relapse was subpar Em, but it was good to have him back. He followed that up with one of his best albums in 2010 with Recovery. Not that Em needed it, but he was back a-top the rap game. This year was a bit different for Em though. He dropped an EP with his boy Royce Da 5’9 under their alias Bad Meets Evil. The project had some great records but the overall view was that it didn’t quite meet expectations. But it seems that Em is starting to move out of the booth and into the executive office. This year he made 2 huge moves in signing Slaughterhouse and the up and comer Yelawolf. I’m not a huge fan of the Yelawolf signing, I felt like Em could have picked someone better to follow in his footsteps but that’s my opinion. Slaughterhouse may be looked at as a bunch of washed up rappers, but bottom line is that those guys have some serious lyrical ability and when put together, their work is really fuckin’ good. I’m not too sure what 2012 has in store for Em, but as a rapper, his impact is fading.
Next up we have the highly-touted Andre 3000. Outkast hasn’t put anything out in years and it seemed as if Andre had completely moved onto acting full time. After his AWFUL verse in Chris Breezy’s “Deuces (Remix)” many questioned if 3 Stacks still had some rapping in him. But as you all now, 3 Stacks is a legend and many of the younger rappers have been dying to work with him since they heard ATLiens. And as expected, 3 Stacks was featured on a number of big songs this year. Seemingly, the features weren’t all he was up to. In Sept, L.A. Reid announced that Outkast was moving to his new place of work, Epic Records. Looking back at 2011, 3 Stacks was on a Ke$ha remix, Weezy’s album, Drizzy’s album, Jeezy’s album, Beyonce’s album, and the latest feature will be on B.o.B’s album dropping in 2012. I will say that 3 Stacks is still doing big things in the game, but like Em, his overall impact is seeming to fade more and more.
Now we are gonna take it to the west coast to discuss some of the big time legends, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Evaluating Dre is too easy because he actually didn’t do shit musically this year. Detox was again nothing more than a dream for most fans and no one was able to secure a Dre feature or production (that is besides Kendrick & Slim The Mobster who Dre will be producing for in 2012). His headphone line has become so big that it is really the sole reason he is even still in our conversations. Dre is 46, its about that time ya know? Now Snoop on the other hand, is far from done. 2011 featured a tonnnn of original music from the big Dogg. He started off the year well with his feature on Katy Perry’s hit single, then dropped his album Doggumentary. The album sold over 50k in its first week which is actually pretty good for a guy Snoop’s age. The major move Snoop made this year was hooking up with youngin’ Wiz Khalifa. The two made an instant connection (who smokes more?) and have since been putting out dope music together. They finished off 2011 with the soundtrack to their upcoming film Mac + Devin Go To High School which features their hit single “Young, Wild, And Free“. Snoop may be 40, but the man is still smoking like a chimney and rapping like he’s got one day to live. Can’t knock that.
Next up we got Common. Surprisingly there has been some controversy surrounding Common throughout the year, but that hasn’t held him down. Common has done a lot of acting and was on a little break from rapping. In the first half of the year Common was doing some of the non-rap-like shit as he put out his own book and appeared in the White House for Michelle Obama’s poetry event. Of course Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the conservative media went crazy over it, calling Common all sorts of names, and basically discrediting rappers as normal human beings. Anyways, Common wasn’t affected. He was prepping for his 9th studio album on his new label. With this album The Dreamer, The Believer, Common did things the right way. He dropped his singles at the right times and made sure they were the right choices. “Ghetto Dreams” was a street anthem, “Blue Sky” might be the song of the year, andddddd “Sweet” is an apparent diss to Drizzy Drake. I may not be a fan of the beef, but hey, its got people talking. The album sold 70k its first week which is definitely solid for Common, nothing crazy, but he’s still doing better than some of these young guys. So is he making an impact? I’m going to say yes but more for the die-hard Hip Hop people. On the bigger scale, Common is nearing the end of his career.
I only got a few more people to discuss. Figured I’d leave my boy Nas for close to the end. Nasir had a pretty quiet 2011. The rumors swirling about The Lost Tapes 2 ended up being nothing. The speculation over Nas’s next album Life Is Good is still there and heavy. Many were unsure as to whether the album would drop this year and as expected, it did not. His first single “Nasty” got a lot of positive feedback, but still lacked that “wow” factor. He did appear on a bunch of hot songs for Weezy, Mary J. Blige, Common, Raekwon, Mobb Deep, Game, and the late Amy Winehouse. There is talks of a joint album with Common for 2012, but that is still up in the air. Nas, like Common, is nearing the end of his rapping career. 2012 might be the last year Nasir has in him, but better yet it might be the time for Nas to step away from the game.
Finally, I wanted to finish off this article with a few rappers that are getting into that territory of the rappers mentioned above. These include T.I., Ludacris, The Lox, and a stretch would be Young Jeezy. TIP seems to love prison but now he’s out and seemingly on his grind so expect big things in 2012. I think Luda has lost it though. His music hasn’t been there for a few years now and he’s since been getting into other things. I think the acting, alcohol and other businesses, as well as features are where Luda should spend his time. As for his solo music, might be the time to slow down. The Lox is literally old as fuck. Styles continues to try and keep up with the young guns dropping new music all the time, but clearly he doesn’t have it anymore. Jada will always be dope, but less and less people are checking for him. And Jizzle finalllyyyyyyy released TM 103, seems like a good way to go out? Nah maybe I’m crazy haha.
No disrespect to any of the rappers mentioned in this article, I think they are all legends and helped shaped the game into what it is today….but…..they are all at that age (or getting to that age) where it isn’t cool to be a rapper anymore. There’s only one guy who has shown he can really still be THAT good at an older age, and that’s obviously HOVVVVVV!!!!
Comments and feedback welcomed. Fire Away!!