Is Andre 3000 Right? Can You Ever Get Too Old To Rap?!

Recently, hip-hop legend, pioneer, an MC extraordinaire and one half of Outkast, Andre 3000, came out in an interview with Complex and basically said in so many words that he was pretty much done rapping because he's too old. I don't want to paraphrase what he said and misconstrue what he was trying to say so I'll share the direct quote from the article:

  “I kind of like not being a part of [Rap music], now that I’ve done it,” 3000 tells Complex‘s Alex Gale. He continues “As I get older, I start to see myself move more back from it—the hustle and bustle of putting out an album, the pressure of being in the studio trying to come up with something. Now it’s more like a hobby for me, so I don’t think about it in that way. Even with Outkast, if we never do another album, I’m totally fine with that. 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?”

“Rapping is like being a boxer,” André equates. “No matter how great you are or were at a certain time, the older you get, the slower you get—I don’t care who you are. And I can feel that coming on. There’s always a new wave of artists, and sometimes I’m just like, ‘I’m good. I’ll let the young guys do it.’” Moments later, he says, “I don’t get much happiness from doing music like that—I get happiness from pleasing who I’m working with, and helping them, and seeing them be excited.”

I respectfully disagree with 3 Stacks. Outkast hasn't released an album in over a decade with their patchy-but-still-great-in-spots Idlewild, but anyone who's heard any of Andre's guest verses he's peppered throughout the hip-hop world since then will agree that he has not lost a step at all lyrically and creatively and constantly reminds us just how far rap has fallen off in recent years. Speaking for myself personally, I know Andre's verses for "Walk It Out", "Everybody", "Sixteen", "Pink Matter" & "International Players Anthem", but I either cannot name the other artists on these songs or fast-forward through their verses. Okay, well...maybe not "International Players Anthem"...that whole song is fire, but Andre definitely outshines everyone on that joint too!

Another reason I disagree with Andre is because Jay-Z just taught us that grown men in their 40s can definitely still craft an "adult" sounding hip hop album that is commercially successful and socially relevant without catering to all the youthful BS in the industry. And I mean no disrespect to the Jigga Man, but Andre 3000, to me, is just a way more intriguing and creative MC lyrically. I'm sure plenty of heads who have been long time fans of him and Outkast would support and buy a release by him. Heck, A Tribe Called Quest was able to sell an album last year 18 years after they broke up. They sold 132,000 units and reached the number 1 spot on Billboard which a lot of current, more "relevant" artist cannot do. My point is that those like myself, who grew up on rap music, who are getting older, who still have the money to actually buy music...we haven't gone anywhere. We didn't reach the age of 30 and all of a sudden developed a taste for jazz or classical music. We still appreciate and dabble in other genres, of course, but we still need our hip-hop dag-nabbit!! I can only listen to the classics so many times before I just need to hear something new. And most heads I know around my age aren't gonna pretend to like Ugly God, Lil Uzi Vert, and Kodak Black just cause we're told to like them. Most heads I know. We haven't gone anywhere and we haven't all died off and we still have a hunger for good ol' hip hop that I think someone like Andre 3000 is totally up to the task to create. I know he compared rapping to boxing, but rapping ain't boxing. Rapping is rapping. And it's art. Much like sculpting, photography, or painting. And there are many examples of sculptors, photographers, and painters who produced works until the day they died or at least well into old age.

On the other hand, I do kind of get where he's coming from. He's paid his dues. He's provided classics that will be bumped for many years to come. He's made significant contributions to the culture and has nothing else to prove. And I imagine it gets increasingly difficult to fit into an industry that continues to cater to and encourage the most undisciplined characteristics of young people while you continue to grow old and mature. Because let's face it, for every Andre or Jay Z in the game, there are 21 21 Savages. Nobody wants to be that 45 year old in the club with a bunch of college kids. They look old and out of place, and should feel that way (R Kelly, I'm lookin' at you).

So at the end of the day, I respect and understand Andre's stance and position, but at the same time can't discard my wishful thinking hoping that cats like him will every once in a while shake up the game and show the young cats how it's done.