The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to email@example.com.
Note: This edition will be a two-parter. We're discussing ageism in hip-hop, so it seemed appropriate to get the perspective of both the hungry up-and-comer and the cagey veteran. Playing the role of hungry up-and-comer will be the stellar Fat Tony. Make sure to tune in next week to hear from none other than the legendary Rob Quest of Coughee Brothaz.
This Week's Rapper:
This Week's Subject(s):
Ageism in hip-hop
Ask A Rapper: So from where you're sitting, as the young dude with the world at his feet, where do you stand on the ageism in hip-hop debate? There seems a pretty inarguable bias against the old heads.
Fat Tony: I think with music, it's like with music you can be whatever age, right? You can be old as fuck, young as fuck, and that's cool. But if you're in your teens or early twenties and you want to get your rap career started, that's the perfect age.
If you're in your thirties or forties and you're just now getting your rap career started, you need to just go on and go to sleep. Even if you've been doing it for a while, hip-hop is just so word-heavy and so topic-heavy that you just start to fade out. You can only talk about the same things for so long.
AAR: What about Jay-Z? He's pretty much that guy now.
FT: Jigga's a perfect example, but not for old dudes. It's like, back in the day people complained before when he was making all of those club hits that he was too pop, but really, that was hot at the time. Now it's like Coldplay rap. He's making rap for soccer moms. I didn't even like the new album [The Blueprint 3
AAR: Not at all?
FT: It's cool overall. But it's just kinda wishy-washy. He's gone too much into pop now. There's a market for that -dudes that grew up with Jay-Z and are old now and still like rap are like "Oh, look Jay-Z's still doing it and he's old like me, this is great." But rap culture as a whole is for the youth. It's a young man's game.
Rap isn't good for peoples' parents. That's why they don't like it. If you're a grown-ass man, you can't really appreciate that. You can't be out on the corner smoking weed and freestyling all day. That [old man rap] might be able to take off as niche market, but that's it. There's always going to be a clash between the old and the new.
New rappers are never going to figure out how to not piss off the old ones, and old ones are never going to accept the new ones. It's just how it is.
AAR: That's solid. So when is it time to bow out? When is the appropriate time to call it quits?
FT: Hmmm, I'd say 45 or so at the latest. Then you need to chill out. Go put some other rappers out there. Take more of a backseat role. I think it would've been way better if Jigga retired after that wonderful Black album and just came back for cameos or guest spots or features.
It would've been cool if he concentrated more on putting other rappers out there. Because it's just like, before when he would release an album he would get all of this coverage and be everywhere. And it's like that now too, but only because he's Jay-Z. Nobody is really giving a fuck too hard like they used to.
AAR: So after a rapper gets to 45 or so, he needs to learn how to play the guitar?
FT: He needs to learn something. At that point, like with Big Daddy Kane, he'll come back and do a couple of guest spots and stuff. But he's not out there wearing skinny jeans and trying to put out records. Once you get to that point, it should be more about upholding your legacy.
Get up-to-date news regarding Fat Tony at www.myspace.com/fattonyrap and follow him on Twitter at @fattonyrap. And make sure to get all of his albums. They're always proper good. He's not winning all of these Best Underground Hip-Hip Awards for nothing.