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Quit Calling Yourself Old

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Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 4:15 AM

click to enlarge An actual old person - FLICKR/ADAM_JONES
Detroit rapper Danny Brown has a new album, called Old.

Brown's occasional boasts about receiving in-show fellatio aside, just about everyone who likes good rap music likes him, and this new work does not disappoint.

But the title is really annoying.

Because in hip-hop, as in many other segments of society, people are constantly bemoaning how old they are when they've lived less than half their expected life.

Brown is 32.

Now, granted, in a reveal this summer Brown said the title refers to his previous style, his "old" way of making music.

But he was being cheeky, as he knew most people would take it the way that, well, most people are taking it.

With 'Old' you think I'm talking about my age, or where I'm at in my career...

Thirty-two is how old he says he is, and we believe him -- Brown tends toward brutal honesty. But that's a rare commodity in hip-hop, whose denizens constantly lie about their ages.

Despite the fact that reigning monarch Jay-Z is 43, being older than college-aged still carries a stigma in the genre. When I've asked rappers their ages during interviews, more than once they've offered this response:

My real age? Or my Hollywood age?

The program director for New York radio station Hot 97, Ebro Darden, calls himself Old Man Ebro. (Or, Ebro el Viejo, if you prefer.) He's 38.

Since I'm only two years younger, I asked him why he uses that nickname:

I want to let these 18-24 year olds know I've seen some shit. So fall back. We probably already did [what you're doing], and we did it better.

Glad that he sees "old" as a measure of empowerment, but he's clearly in the minority. In the minds of many -- or at least many in the entertainment industries and those who service them -- 38 is, like, for real, undesirably old.

So is 32.

Oh, and, if you're a supermodel, so is 29.

In fact, my niece recently told me she considers herself old. She is a ripe old four.

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