Opinion

Is It Too Late to Flourish a Rap Career in Your 30s and 40s?

Hip hop has been a global phenom with a cultural impact since its existence in 1973. Author Alain-Philippe Durand, states in his book, “Black, Blanc, Beur: Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the Francophone World”, that hip-hop isn’t just music. It’s a culture composed of various elements – the most prominent being rap music: DJ-ing (sampling) and MC-ing (rhyming), along with graffiti/tagging and hip-hop dance.

According to Headphone Addict “Rap/Hip-Hop Statistics, hip hop is the most popular genre among 16-24-year-olds listeners from black communities. This powerful form of expression has encouraged aspiring artists to start a career in hip-hop. There’s a saying, if you’re trying to go mainstream with a rap career in your 30s and 40s, just hang it up. Not for local, Andrew Watson. Watson, 36, said he feels he’s in the best position to flourish his career. He’s been rapping since his collegiate days at UNC Charlotte. He states his style is relatable to Lil Wayne due to his word play and punch lines. Watson has performed at local bars and relies on the internet to promote his music. He also travels to places like California, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago to build his network and grow relationships. He recently released an album called Jukebox on April 6th. Jukebox is a different mixture of slow and pop country and rap at a slower and faster pace.

Despite pushing numerous music in and his strong Instagram Followers, he shares the struggles of independent artists, particularly in North Carolina. He mentioned the lack funding resources and North Carolina being a bypass for industry executives. He shared the support is much different in NC than other major cities like New York, LA, and Atlanta.

Some believe there’s an age standard for aspiring Hip-Hop Artists to go mainstream. In a 2009 article from XXL, title “What is too Old for Hip-Hop?”, artist Scratch states, “I think it’s scientifically impossible for a 43-year-old man to have “swag,” much less covet endless scallywags, shoot up enemy tour buses & relieve third world Kingpins of their product. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped blowing up robots & murdering alien headhunters once it was time to “Just for Men” his salt & pepper coiffure.” Havoc, from Mobb Deep, also argues anyone 30 and over should hang it up. When told how artists like Eminem and Jay-Z experience heighten success in their 30s and 40s, Havoc argued they already been in the spotlight in their 20s. For the sake of argument, artists like Two Chainz, Rick Ross, DJ Khalid, rose to fame in their 30s with their musical hits and cultural influence.

J. Cole and Morray

I want to discuss the methods for two hometown rappers, J. Cole and Morray to break grounds. J. Cole moved from Fayetteville, to flourish his career. He went to St John University in New York City (hip-hop mecca). After graduation, instead of working the 9-5 job corporate job, he was working minimum wage and got on his grind – networking until he linked up with Mark Pitts, AMC Record Producer, who had major connections. That put J Cole in touch with the big industry cats, like Jay-Z. J Cole secret formula to fame came from his decision to move to a bigger market, network, and grit attitude.

Morray on the other hand, didn’t leave home. He worked various 9-5 jobs to support his family until he made it. He gained his notoriety by being a marketing genius. He shared in an interview that rappers must be authentic. He branded himself – rapping about his experiences, making it relatable to fans. He had many songs through Spotify, but Quicksand was his major break. He too shared the struggles as an aspiring North Carolina rapper before his notoriety. Morray discussed in an interview with Revolt that the talent is here, but NC doesn’t have a listening ear compared to Atlanta, New York, and LA, to support artist. There were times he wanted to give up, but he kept pushing. He said that you can’t go through life and blame others; you must go hard it or shut up.

Strategies for Aspiring Artist according to How to Start

  1. Connect, Network, Spread the Word: Networking is valuable. The Internet opened the doors for aspiring hip hop artists to connect and build their platform, but the networking principle remains the same. Continue working on your rapping style. If your work is good and you put it out there, then they will put your work in the hands of the right people. You need to network and there is no way around it. You essentially must make a major move in your career if you want to make it big.
  2. Have Patient Ambition and Dedication: Give your art time to grow. Hustle and grind until you make it. It’s not going to be an overnight process. It took Morray 14 years before he went mainstream.
  3. Understand the industry and the game play the game to change the game: From a realistic outlook, aspiring mainstream artist must have the right mentor to guide you. J Cole mentioned in an interview with Freestyle that one must understand the industry and its game. “You play the game to change the game, play politics of the industry”, according to J Cole. Since his fame, J. Cole started his own record label, Dreamville.

The video also shares the pros and cons of working major record labels and going the independent route. As an independence artist have a lot of creative freedom but the downsides are they must do a lot of logistical and operational stuff on their own. Artists working with major labels downside is they don’t have any ownership of their material. Those artists will experience a huge profit loss, but in return their network with the best of the best. The insiders give you an extra edge.

Drew continues to push his music, better himself, and network until he makes it. He has another album coming out on May 5th, titled Rich Hits Vol 4.

The Exclusive would like to hear from the readers. Do you believe its too late to flourish a rap career in your 30s and 40s?

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