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"I don’t want to be a 40-year-old rapper."
August 28, 2014 8:35 AM   Subscribe


 
I respect his honesty, and at the same time I think it should be okay for older people to rap. The perspective can be refreshing. I'm not sure I agree that hip hop should be entirely about that youthful voice.

I think a lot of the problem of older artists putting out weak tracks is due to wealth and not age. Wealthy people lose the narrative of struggle and success they had in the beginning, and their new perspective is not that interesting to most people. Unless you're lucky(?) enough to be Kanye and have unlimited reserves of insecurity.
posted by selfnoise at 8:54 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


Normally I don't really like "old" people doing "young" people music. I don't care how entertaining they are, I just find it painful to watch the Rolling Stones now. But with Andre 3000, I feel like I could make an exception, at least for a little while longer.
posted by nushustu at 8:55 AM on August 28


I think a lot of the problem of older artists putting out weak tracks is due to wealth and not age. Wealthy people lose the narrative of struggle and success they had in the beginning, and their new perspective is not that interesting to most people. Unless you're lucky(?) enough to be Kanye and have unlimited reserves of insecurity.

Or Chuck D and continue to be pissed off.
posted by dismas at 9:09 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


In many ways, André 3000 anticipated the sound and shape of modern hip-hop ambition.

Ahhhh, the name is Bootsy, baby.
posted by nixt at 9:15 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Unless you're lucky(?) enough to be Kanye and have unlimited reserves of insecurity.

Or Chuck D and continue to be pissed off.


Or Prince and continue to be a genius.
posted by The World Famous at 9:27 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Our pop culture's youth obsession is one of those things that always gets sold as "just giving the people what they want," but apart from the post-modern period in US history (since late 50s/early 60s), it's an historical anomaly to have a pop culture that's completely dominated by young, less experienced voices. It seems normal to have these cultural biases to us now, but in the bigger historical and global picture, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Personally, I think one factor in the dynamic is that the big industry players tend to select for the young and inexperienced because they are easier to manipulate and exploit. There's a whole cottage industry that profits on selling people the idea of "making it big."

Having a culture that's blatantly ageist doesn't do any of us any favors in the long run, but on the other hand, it's all good.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


Part of art is knowing when not to put paint on. And when to change your medium.

Amen. There's a lesson few rockstars learn. Good for him.
posted by cribcage at 9:39 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


(And yet, some of us are making the best music we've made in our lives post-40, and have never really taken anyone who unironically describes themselves as "rock stars" seriously, so YMMV.)
posted by saulgoodman at 9:45 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, The ROLLING STONES!
posted by Repack Rider at 9:47 AM on August 28


I should clarify, perhaps. If anyone is under the impression that anybody present is suggesting that older people cannot make great music, or even music that rocks, I have some pretty kickass Bob Brookmeyer records to share. We're talking about Andre 3000 here. I'm comfortable going out on a limb to say that nobody present has a comparable career or musical trajectory. Deep breaths.
posted by cribcage at 9:53 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I respect his honesty, and at the same time I think it should be okay for older people to rap

It is. Kanye West is 37, only 2 years younger than Andre 3000, and going strong. I don't think people realize how old some pop stars are.
posted by Hoopo at 9:58 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Also Del is 42 and still pretty great
posted by Hoopo at 9:59 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


I'm comfortable going out on a limb to say that nobody present has a comparable career or musical trajectory.

Ahem. Look at the username.
posted by The World Famous at 10:01 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


If Andre's ready to move on, he should, and people should respect that choice. But I hate that he feels like he has to blame it on being older rather than admitting he just doesn't have the passion for what he's doing anymore or whatever the real issue is. To be fair, a lot of art is ultimately fueled by raw youthful angst, and so it's only natural those artists would tend to wind down in their later years. But that's less about age than about the individual artist and what motivates them. Until recently, I felt the same way. Hell, for the last decade I've been telling myself I'd be a fool to continue pursuing a career in music. Then I realized as much as the world may seem to want it to be otherwise, I'm not dead yet and I still have my best work ahead of me. I find it hard to imagine Andre 3000 has nothing left to say, so I wish him best of luck in transitioning to whatever he does next. He's lucky enough to be in a position to have lots of potential channels for self-expression, so despite the fanfare around this announcement, it looks to me more like an artist preparing to enter a different phase in their career than an ending.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:20 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I already liked him in the movies I've seen him in. He was great in Revolver.
posted by daq at 10:26 AM on August 28


Perhaps entering a different phase could be described as changing medium.
posted by cribcage at 10:38 AM on August 28


Normally I don't really like "old" people doing "young" people music. I don't care how entertaining they are, I just find it painful to watch the Rolling Stones now.

I'm pushing fifty, and there's never been a point in my life where I thought the Stones played young people music.
posted by malocchio at 10:48 AM on August 28


Perhaps entering a different phase could be described as changing medium.

No, I know, cribcage--it came off a little wordy, but I was trying to agree with your basic point (although I personally don't see Andre's talent as being too closely tied to his youth, so I don't feel the same way about his moving on being a good thing in itself, but that's in the eye of the beholder, I guess).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on August 28


Didn't he move on like ten years ago? No offense to Dre, but his side of speakerboxxx was pretty weak, and he's had only a handful of verses since then. But a bunch of other rappers are as old as him, Big Boi and Killer Mike to pick two examples close to 3000, and they still kill it. I will watch the Hendrix biopic with great pleasure.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:03 AM on August 28


Ladies and Gentlemen, The ROLLING STONES!

The problem with the Stones isn't that they keep making music, it's that the music at some point just became self-imitation. The Stones are basically a reasonably competent Stones cover-band. The musical tradition they come out of is full of older people making stunning music. They just, sadly, lost a sense of purpose some time around the late 70s (Some Girls, to my mind, is the last Stones album worth owning).

But none of that has much to do with youth/age. There are young artists who settle into self-mimicry (or other-mimicry) from very early on. There are young artists who produce nothing but crap and then suddenly find something to say as they get older. It's just having some reason to make the music you're making other than "well, I guess we need to bang out another album."
posted by yoink at 11:12 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I think he can still outrap Big Boi, (see, for instance, Royal Flush) and that while he's only done a few guest verses relative to Big Boi's pair of albums, those guest verses are consistently the highlight. His most recent feature Benz Friendz is an example of that.

"The Love Below" is definitely not as good as "Speakerboxxx," but damn. "Roses," "Hey Ya!," his verse in "Happy Valentine's Day," and especially "A Life in the Day of Benjamin André" are all extremely good. And as far as influence, I think Drake and Kanye owe a lot to "The Love Below," and even, like, Frank Ocean probably owes a good deal to the more sing-songy aspects of it.

Opinions, I have them.
posted by papayaninja at 11:26 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I always hoped he would increment his number according to his age or phase of artistic life: André 4000, André 5000 etc. That way he could experiment and try different things without feeling constrained.

I guess at some age he's going to have to settle down. Who else will lend me some sugar? I am his neighbor.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:27 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


The quality of Rolling Stones albums has been remarkably consistent since Mick Taylor left the band, and they are as entertaining a live act today as they have ever been. The problem is that post-Taylor Rolling Stones music is good, it's just not good enough to get excited about. It has nothing to do with their age.
posted by The World Famous at 11:27 AM on August 28


Y'all forgot about Dre.
posted by maryr at 11:35 AM on August 28


My favorite Andre verse is the one from gangsta shit. There is definitely no understanding his influence on current rappers. He still gets name dropped, by A$AP Rocky and Chance most recently that I can think of. And that's ten years since he dropped an album.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:37 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Y'all forgot about Dre.

Dr. Dre is a genius. His genius in the last two decades has primarily been used in production and business ventures. He hasn't released a solo studio album since 1999, and has appeared as a rapper on only a handful of singles since then.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


My late-30s self will listen to what he did way back when because it's still good. In the interview he says he's still very much a fan of hip hop but he no longer writes much, it's not his main focus anymore, and as a result he struggles to keep up with the younger rappers he still sometimes collaborates with (though 2 of the guys he mentions are Lil Wayne and Future, who it should be noted are both out of their 20s too). That's exactly the right reason to move on and more people should do it if that's where they are in their careers.

What's even crazier than the ages of pop stars is the ages of the people that make the beats. There's no shortage of 40+ year olds behind the songs on the R&B and Hip Hop charts.
posted by Hoopo at 11:47 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


So he's too old to rap but not too old to play Jimi Hendrix who died at the ripe age of 27?
posted by octothorpe at 12:06 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


If the music in question is thematically youthful, i.e., something inspired by youthful horniness, still developing neocortex, naivete, etc., then I think it's sort of painful and embarrassing to watch an older person doing it. But why music in general has to be limited to young people makes no sense to me. It's an art form like any other and some artists really come into their own at a later age.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:09 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


If the music in question is thematically youthful, i.e., something inspired by youthful horniness, still developing neocortex, naivete, etc., then I think it's sort of painful and embarrassing to watch an older person doing it.

This is a very good point. People who do not appear youthful (it's a matter of appearance, not true age) have a hard time selling music that is thematically youthful. If they can find a way to do it without having themselves be the face of the music, then they can pull it off pretty easily. I'd credit a lot of EDM's success to this principle, since the DJ doesn't necessarily need convey the same sense of youth as does the music itself. The alternative, I suppose, is to find a way to appear youthful for a long time. Personally, I haven't figured that one out.
posted by The World Famous at 12:23 PM on August 28


I can understand what he's said about not wanting to be a rapper at 40. If he goes on stage and raps, that's a gig, not something he defines himself by.

I look forward to the Jimi Hendrix film. If I had any regrets, it would be having to read about André's career and future plans in the NYT, the Rip Van Winkle of culture.
posted by BYiro at 1:13 PM on August 28


Dr. Dre is a great producer and a passable MC at best. Listen to the "produced by Dr. Dre" play lists on Spotify. He's a great self promoter and used the MC game to boost his profile but his flow and delivery is lukewarm and I think he realized that awhile back. His "Kush" verse wasn't bad but he always seemed to be phoning other people's lyrics in.

Andre 3000 is in legendary but legacy status at this point. Another recent rapper to cite him as a great is Kendrick Lamar in "Control."
posted by aydeejones at 2:23 PM on August 28


It will be interesting to see where he is in another 10+ years; Bob Mould's 1998 The Last Dog and Pony Show was intended to be his farewell to electric indie rock, because he was pushing 40 and didn't want to be that old guy on stage. He went off and worked for WWE, put out an album of electronica that alienated most of his fans, plus a few more albums throughout the 2000s where he did his own fairly mellow thing... then he came back in 2012 and kicked everyone's ass with Silver Age and again this year with Beauty & Ruin. I saw him on both the 1998 "farewell" tour and on the 2012 Copper Blue tour... 51 year old Bob was on fire compared to 38 year old Bob.
posted by usonian at 2:50 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, OC. Trophies - (2012). Released a few weeks before his 40th birthday.

OC's debut Word...Life was released in 1994, just like Outkast's debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.

Apollo Brown on the beats. Don't sleep.
posted by cashman at 8:01 PM on August 28


Damon Albarn is 46 and he just keeps getting better, having gone on for 26 years. There are many other examples, but there are many more examples of bands and composers who peak and fade away. Nothing wrong with that, it's more common than not. It's not so much always the age but rather perspective and priorities that age can bring I'd say.
posted by juiceCake at 8:57 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Andre 3000 is a treasure and makes me proud to be an Atlantan (albeit an Atlantan far far from home). I look forward to seeing wherever he lands.
posted by Kitteh at 12:30 PM on August 29


If anything this profile made me download a bunch of Outkast albums and throw them into my rotation.

"Hey Ya!"
posted by Fizz at 6:19 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


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