top of page

Growing Up Hip Hop: How to navigate the culture as an adult.

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Nas and Black Thought


Comedian Chris Rock once famously said, as he got older it was hard for him to “defend Hip-

Hop” as the music got LESS mature and HE matured. That was in the early 2000s!

Chris said, at age 39, he still loved RAP MUSIC, but it became harder to champion as the messaging became, for a lack of a BETTER term….younger.

Quest Love and Chris Rock

Chris’ comments, while meant to be funny, were something all lovers of Rap Music have to face as they mature and the music doesn’t. All my life I’ve heard Hip-Hop was a “youth culture” and a “young man’s sport”, but what happens when the music you grew up on continues to expand but not necessarily for you? Well let’s discuss…

This past August the culture of Hip-Hop turned 49 years old, a relative “young buck” when

compared to other genres such as Rock, Jazz or Rhythm & Blues which all have roots that go back decades. In THAT space our culture is still a young one, we have artist who are OLDER than the culture itself.

DJ Kool Herc at the birthplace of Hip Hop

Hip Hop culture is so young we still can’t really fathom a cat STILL rapping at 65, while Rock

Artist like The Rolling Stones are still revered by their fans, can still make music and tour….in

their 80s!!! Nas once said that he still wanted to be rapping in his 80s like BB King! Q-Tip said he planned on “doing it til death”. It’s shortsighted of us to try to put some kinda age stipulation on a genre of music not even 50 years old.


Legacy artist like De La & Tribe, are making some of the best music of their storied careers while in their late 40s and early 50s! Both of their last 2 albums were, respectfully high water marks in Hip-Hop musicianship and showed us that even at this point in their careers they could still make formidable music. Both “The Anonymous Nobody” and “We Got It From Here Thank You 4 Your Service” are albums SAFE for someone who grew up, for the culture to enjoy.

De La Soul


At 48, Nas is making some of the best music of HIS career. I personally think 4 outta his last

projects (“Life is Good”, “King’s Disease 1 & 2” and “Magic”) were stellar bodies of work that

tackled mature subject matter such as divorce and being a young father with a maturing

daughter, something a lot of cats that are mature in the culture can relate.

50 year old Common, who found a 2nd career as an accomplished actor and won an Oscar for his work with John Legend on the soundtrack of ‘14, “Selma”, hasn’t forgotten his roots and is making some of the most mature Hip Hop of his career starting with his ‘11 all No-ID produced masterpiece, “The Dreamer/The Believer”. His “A Beautiful Revolution Series” is hands down some of the most progressive Hip Hop both lyrically and musically I’ve ever heard. Again, mature topics by a saged vet in the game.


Now if I told you that, arguably, the Greatest Rapper Alive was 50 years old would you believe me? We’ll pay homage to the incomparable Black Thought of the Legendary Roots Crew outta Philadelphia, Pa. Besides having the best day job in the world as the band on “The Tonight Show” Mon-Fri, Tariq has the luxury to make the kinda Hip Hop that isn’t for Radio or the Charts. His “Streams of Thought” series is beyond phenomenal, and his latest project with Danger Mouse, “Cheat Codes”, is hands down the Best Rap Album of the Year our Lord, 2022. His 15-minute freestyle on FunkFlex’s show is something anyone claiming to love Hip Hop NEEDS to see! He completely blacked out and proved that he is hands down the TOP lyricist in the game!!

We can’t talk about Hip Hop for a maturing listener w/o mentioning Jay-Z.

Hov’s last outing “4:44” is the magnum opus of mature Hip Hop. Tackling everything from

infidelity to finance, he gave a tutorial on how to rhyme like a Grown Ass Man. Just an

incredible album from top to bottom.

Truthfully if you don’t know it, THE BEST lyricist in the game are all on the OTHER side of 40. See below:

Eminem 49

Nas 48

Common 50

Jay-Z 52

Fab 44

Ye 45

Rick Ross 46

The Wu all late 40s early 50s

2 Chainz 44 (!)

Griselda 40

Even the NEXT GEN of phenoms are maturing

J. Cole 37

Kendrick Lamar 36

Drake 35

So much for it being a “young man’s game” (though Corde and Coast Contra undoubtedly got next) as the culture matures, so are its artist. The only thing we as fans of the Culture have to do is “allow it”, get outta the way and let Hip Hop grow into whatever it’s going to be.

Sure it’s always going to be a “Youth Element/segment” of the culture and it should be, but as

long as there are great stories to be told, witty wordplay and potent poetics, it’s OK to STILL listen to Hip Hop as WE mature. Hip Hop is OUR block and ain’t NOBODY running us off it!

Besides, as much as I enjoy Frankie Beverley & Maze, that ain’t my era, that’s my Pops', I got my own music and I ain’t letting it go.

- Fli Supreme.


bottom of page