There are many issues in hip hop music such as the glorification of sex, money and violence, but there is also a battle within the genre and it’s called Ageism. No other genre of music faces this issue as much as hip hop and we want to discuss issues from a producer and rapper aspect.
Ageism affects producers differently than it does a hip hop artist. Currently, you have some hot producers such as Boi-1da, Murda Beatz, Daringer, Wheezy and Tay Keith currently blazing trails, adding to hip hop in a major way by creating its modern sound. You also have to remember almost 20 years ago, there were hot up and coming producers such as Just Blaze, The Alchemist, Kanye West, The Neptunes and Timbaland, that also helped build the sound of hip hop of their time. Eventually, the sound of hip hop will change and some of these producers will no longer be the “go to” producers as they once were. It can be gauged by the listening audience preference or hip hop artist seeking a new sound, which the producer could be considered at this point “old and dated”. From a listeners standpoint, nobody should focus on the age of the producer as much as the sound they create because if it doesn’t evolve effective yet gracefully, it would be considered “old”. The key of overcoming Ageism as a producer is if they can stand the test of time when they are no longer “hot”. Some producers defined the test of time like Swizz Beatz, DJ Premier, Kanye West and Dr Dre, which most artist still seek some form of production, no matter how “old” they are in age. Some of their styles have adapted to modern time or their sound was a signature that no other producer could mimic and the new artist would still want to work with them based on their significance.
Ageism plays a major factor when it comes to hip hop artist as they are more in the spotlight. Artist such as 21 Savage, Cardi B, Chance The Rapper and Kodak Black who are currently the hottest rappers in the game. Then, there are a list of new legends, or the “Top 5” in barbershop talk lingo, such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj, which the youth considers “old” at this point, yet all are still effective in hip hop. You also have a list of legends that are still actively rapping and are still significant such as Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg and Eminem who have transcended from the mic to help move the hip hop culture forward making it more marketable, less restricted and more profitable, but are still impactful when it comes to making music. Refer to Jay-Z’s impact with his verse on on “What’s Free” and his album entitled ,“4:44”.
There is a gap that seems will never be bridged in hip hop when it comes to Ageism in hip hop. The youth will say the old heads don’t understand their style of hip hop or are too old be making hip hop music. The older generation will say hip hop is not what it used to be or it was better back in the days. So the battle will remain, if we never bridge the gap and create from an ageless perspective. It is understood that hip hop is a “young man’s game”, but also have to recognize that hip hop is getting “old” and will eventually no longer be considered “young”.