Hey Young World

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and 50 Cent on the 106 & Park couch in five years

Hip hop, like everything else in this country, is obsessed with youth. As stated in this article from the Associated Press, we live in a generation where a number of rappers prefix their name with the word “young” with the intent to remain relevant in a genre that just love[s] the kids.

But at age 29, Jeezy — who is preparing to release his sophomore disc, The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102, in December — knows he may not be able to call himself Young too much longer.

“I feel young though. I feel I represent for the young; this is my way of kind of touching base with them,” he explains, before adding, “Yeah, ain’t nobody want to [deal] with you if they think you old.”

“Ain’t nobody want to deal with you if they think you old.” Well, Jeezy, if you’re feeling that young, perhaps you may want to entertain the thought of going back to school. Got damn.

Grammar aside, I often think of Redd Foxx whenever I hear Jeezy speak. I haven’t caught an episode of “Sanford and Son” on BET lately. Have you? The day Jeezy made the comment “I feel young, though” is the day Jeezy should have realized just how old he was getting.

Even at the age of 22, I know that I want to enjoy my youth, but not revel in it forever. I find it a bit troubling that people are so determined to remain young.

Why does hip hop have such a problem with maturity? Mr. “Hey Young World himself, Slick Rick, offered his thoughts in an interview with XXL.

You gotta look at it like this: hip-hop never had a blueprint. It was just something that was brought up for fun. And now hip-hop is about 40 years old. But it doesn’t act like it’s 40 years old, it acts like it’s in some kind of remission stage and it can’t get past 20 or 25. Like once everyone hits about 25 or 26, they start lying about their age. It’s just the pressure of the market. The market forces you to be younger than you are. When you hit a certain age, the record companies are not that interested in you. And then you lose inspiration too, because you don’t want to feel like you’re competing with children for a children’s market. You wanna be like Prince, or these older artists that have their own audience.

It’s a really good interview. Slick makes a lot of good points about how hip hop, with its routine subject matter, has become monotonous. I appreciate his honesty about being a 41-year-old man that doesn’t want to continue discussing the life he enjoyed in his 20s.

Obviously Jay-Z disagrees. My first reaction to “Show Me What You Got” was laughter. In a month he’ll be 37 (reportedly anyway), yet the lyrics to the song sound like that of a man more than a decade his junior. There is only a five year difference (Slick will turn 42 in January) between the two, though it’s clear one embraces his entrance into middle age life more than the other.

The music industry is quick to discard an artist the second they discover they’re perceived as over-the-hill by audiences. Like the generation before them, eventually the bulk of mainstream hip hop’s audience will move on, leaving an even greater disconnect between older artists who sell an image of youth and the young consumers that can actually still claim such image to be their reality. Or will there be? Perhaps the current audience, like its top selling stars, will continue to hold a death grip onto their youth, forgoing maturity because there is a fear that in growing older, you no longer matter. Because really, in our society, who wants to grow up?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone