Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli recently hit up SOHH to share his input on hip-hop pioneers continuing their careers despite critics and listeners urging them to retire.
While Kweli acknowledges that a rapper’s retirement is imminent, an emcee can never fully abandon the microphone.
“In the strict business sense, of course rappers can, and have to, retire,” Kweli told SOHH via statement. “Time waits for no man. And there’s always a new one gunning for your spot. When you no longer holding your spot down, whether you fight or step down, you are giving it up eventually. But an artist never stops mastering his craft. The most exciting thing about the prospect of an artist like Jay-Z “retiring” is the music he will create once he has no more industry pressure. Kanye [West] let me hear some of that [Watch the Throne] music they working on together, and some of it is stuff that I know Jay feels comfortable saying because he can be free.” (SOHH)
Last week, Young Money’s Lil Wayne promised to retire in seven years.
“I would say me, I’ll be the first to retire,” Wayne told radio host Angie Martinez when asked who would be the first to retire in Young Money. “I’m gone at like 35. I promise, I’m retiring early. Nah, I’m serious… I have four kids and I would feel selfish not to at that age. At 35, I would feel selfish still going to the studio when it’s such a vital point in their lives, not to be there. That would be very selfish of me. This is a solid plan and I stick with my plans. I’m gonna be a dad, a full-time dad.” (Hot 97)
In a past interview. Jay-Z talked about still being able to compete with young artists like Lil Wayne despite being over 40.
“One of the reasons I wanted to make Blueprint 3 was because of the challenge,” Jay told the magazine in a cover story out this week. “We’ve seen people like LL [Cool J] have longevity, and we respect the heritage of what he’s done, but it’s not like, right now, he’s competing on the same level as Lil Wayne. So for me to still be able to compete at that level at my age, that’s rarefied air. It’s never been done. I think the problem with people, as they start to mature, they say, ‘Rap is a young man’s game,’ and they keep trying to make young songs. But you don’t know the slang — it changes every day. You can visit the topic, but these young kids live it every day, and you’re just visiting. So you’re trying to be something you’re not, and the audience doesn’t buy into that. And people wonder why. ‘I made a great Southern bounce song!’ You’re from New York, and you’re 70! Why are you bouncing?” (MTV)
Last year, The LOX’s Styles P considered life after rap.
“I got a book coming though, Mr. Invincible, a fiction joint coming out, through Nicki Turner Presents and Random House,” Styles told radio personality Mr. Peter Parker. “We’re trying to expand, also we got a couple straight-to-DVD films D-Block is trying to put out. Phantom Gangster Chronicles, we got part one and about to put out part two and three so we’re just trying to expand the brand. I need another occupation, man. You can’t rap forever. We got young D-Block, I’m still in the [rap] game but eventually I gotta pass the baton but eventually I’ll be out of the relay. It’ll be all on them and I can just spot check when I want to. I think a lot of rappers and emcees forget to pass the torch and open the door for other people. So when I do do that and I’m not playing the whole game, I wanna do something where I ‘can’ play the whole game — around six, seven more years so I can relax and do the whole book thing…” (Mr. Peter Parker)
Check out some recent Talib Kweli footage below: