Tupac lived the life he imagined for himself. He dreamed of being a world famous actor when he starred in Shakespeare themed productions while in high school. What’s clear is that he was a supremely talented actor. Rapper? Not as much, but even still I look at the lane he made for all of these rappers to get a foot in the industry in Hollywood. Here’s my question for today… Would Tupac and even Notorious B.I.G. receive the same derision that current fans of rap give all the rappers that are 35years and older? Was dying the best thing that happened to the legacies of Tupac and B.I.G.?
I can’t imagine these two icons would still deliver the same content they did in their mid-twenties. Nobody usually does unless their artistry hasn’t evolved. None of you reading this believe that either B.I.G. or Tupac wouldn’t have evolved. They were both too ahead of their time to begin with. So where does that leave us with artists that have grown up before our eyes. Rappers like KRS-1 and LL Cool J are both past the 40yr old marker and people dismiss their current artistic projects outright because of their age. When Public Enemy first debuted their frontman Chuck D was damn near 30. Hip-Hop music never made the artist’s age a point of contention. Rap music does. This is why I tell you that rap music makes you dumber. What artistic movement denounces teachers? What culture shows disdain for it’s elders.
Rap music is no longer Hip-Hop culture, but it is clearly American culture. American culture tells you that it is acceptable to leave your family’s elders inside an institution for them to live out their natural lives instead of living with their family. The same people that put their elders in nursing homes are the people that decide what Hip-Hop gets produced and distributed to the masses. They have no respect for their elders and they have taught this ideal to the current fans of rap music.
When Hip-Hop had begun there was no separation of ages or genders, or even races. Bambaataa would spin records from David Bowie and the Incredible Bongo Band as well as soul classics from the Stax era. The message was in the music and the message was for people to come together. In only thirty short years rap music no longer respects the deejay and the message is to get rich or die trying. Fuck the enrichment of the journey itself, it’s all about getting paid and if that means selling dope to my next door neighbor then fuck it I’m all in.
That’s why I say thanks to GOD that he didn’t allow Tupac or B.I.G. to age before our eyes. I would be so embarrassed and hurt to see them shitted on by today’s rap music fans just because they were older, as if being older were a curse, and not a gift. There’s no way it would be going down otherwise. The people that control the music that is mass-produced and distributed are the type of people that put their grandmothers inside of a garage or a boiler room in their basement. They don’t value the wisdom or humanity of their elders and they have transferred this sense of disrespect into the minds of today’s rap music fans. And just like they did for jazz music and swing and Be-Bop culture, these are the same people that will determine the canon for rap music and Hip-Hop culture.
Thank GOD that Tupac and B.I.G. are already dead, because in rap music, dying is better than getting old.