As Hip-Hop fans, most of us have seen our favorite rappers go through their young 20s, hit a peak, sometimes fall off or move on to other ventures.
But what happens when a rapper grows up and wants to extend their rap careers into another decade? Unfortunately, for rappers like Biggie and 2Pac, we never had a chance to see them at their mature stage in music.
Thankfully, there are others artists in their mid-30s to late 40s, that are still rapping, and are approaching their music from a completely different point of view.
We are lucky enough to have seen the transformation of many rappers as they’ve gotten older, and we watched them grow up in front of our eyes.
Here’s a look at how gracefully some of our favorite rappers have aged after years in the game.
Jay-Z, age 48.
After coming into the game rapping about lavish lifestyles, major drug dealing and a life of crime, Shawn Carter transformed himself into one of the most prominent and innovative examples of “adult rap,”
Jay-Z has shifted his content to include talks about investing, wearing three-piece suits, settling in with family.
4:44 may be one of the most mature albums in hip-hop history, but the mogul’s grown-up content started many years before that.
On Kingdom Come, the song “30 Something” sticks out as a proclamation of “I’m grown now.” Jay raps about how it’s time to do away with childish ideas.
Since that song, Jay-Z has pumped out themes of adulthood album after album, but maybe none as strong as his second verse on Story of OJ, where he warns the youth about spending their money on frivolous things.
Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine
But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99
I turned that 2 to a 4, 4 to an 8
I turned my life into a nice first-week release date
Nas, age 44.
Nas has always had in-depth content rather it be about murders, drug dealings on street corners or about prostitution, alcoholism and drug abuse.
But as he got older, he started to reflect on the things that mattered in his life. He opened himself to his audience and began making songs for black men his age that may be going exactly through what he is.
The perfect song to show Nas and his growth in music is his “Daughters,” a song that not only shows Nas evaluating himself as a father but also reaching out with a message for black men with precious little girls.
Joe Budden, age 38.
Mr. Content himself, Joe Budden has “retired” from rap and moved on to life as Media Joe, but even on his last album, he fully embraced his age and how he has gotten to a point where he can reflect on younger days.
From his Desert Storm, punchline rap days to his Mood Muzik depression and addiction problems, Joe has been through a maze of a life in the hip-hop industry.
On Rage and the Machine, the song “Uncle Joe” shows Budden rapping about the era he came from and how he recognizes his difference from the new generation of rap stars.
Budden has been through enough that he could probably write three albums worth of material of how Adult Joe would have acted differently in certain situations.
He gave listeners a glimpse in the last few years of his rap career.
Andre 3000, age 43. Big Boi, age 43.
Outkast shines as a marvel and gem of southern hip-hop, and of course, you can’t have one without the other.
Andre 3000 and Big Boi came into the game rapping about being players and showing off flashy rap skills while talking about southern culture, including Cadillacs and shiny rims.
Over time both Dre and Big Boi have shifted their content to focus on things that interest them in their older lives. Both being in their early 40s, they have a wealth of knowledge to share of experiences they’ve had growing up in the rap game.
In an interview with Complex, Andre even introduced the idea he may be at the age where he was moved on from hip-hop and questions how others his age are still able to do it.
“When I was 25, I said I don’t want to be a 30-year-old rapper. I’m 42 now, and I feel more and more that way. Do I really want to be 50 years old up there doing that? When I watch other rappers that are my age I commend them, but I just wonder where the inspiration is coming from. At this stage, I’m really more focused on what I am going to be doing 10 years from now. And I hope to God it won’t be rapping.”