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…
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.
Never mind that women, on average, live 81 years nowadays, and men 76. You don't have to be a rapper or a model to act like you're in the December of your life when it's really more like April. The “I'm so old/we're so old/you're fucking old” talk tends to rev up just after college graduation, or at least when VH1 kicks off an I Love the [Whatever Decade You Got Your Driver's License].
Just because a band you liked in high school is now getting back together, and said band no longer does lines of cocaine before breakfast, and just because you can now afford tickets + surcharges for the reunion tour without, I don't know, sneaking in or blowing a roadie, does not mean you are old.
Just because you're no longer a target demographic sought by advertisers doesn't mean your money's no good.
Quit with the self-hating, and quit acting like there's anything desirable about extreme youth. Would you really want to return to a time when your face was greasy, when you were too scared to tell a girl you liked her, when your parents controlled your life and when you could be sure that, at any given moment, your “best friends” were gossiping about you behind your back?
Mortgages and decreased idealism aside, it's a pretty sweet gig being
old, middle-aged, about 42 percent finished with your existence, like Danny Brown. You get to, basically, structure your own damn life the way you want, you're physically still a beast, and your best mental years are still ahead of you. And your confidence game is probably off the chain!
After all, it's mainly the “old” guys who are continuing to dominate in rap, at least when it comes to making money — Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Diddy, Baby, etc.
Personally, if I were 85 years old and I heard some thirty-something shit claiming to be old I'd smack him with my cane.
At the end of the day, the title “old” has to be earned. Sorry, all you 32-year-old rappers, 26-year-old supermodels and world-weary pre-schoolers: You just don't rate.
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