Thanks to MCs like Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop, Ice Cube and Q-Tip the 40-year-old benchmark is no longer considered a death sentence in hip-hop. However, there is a way to age gracefully.
Being an older artist is always a delicate balancing act between pleasing your established fans and appealing to newer ones. Done the right way you can open arenas and shut down a borough with eight back-to-back shows filled with old and new material. Done the wrong way you come off like the dude who just got out of jail learning to use Twitter.
Below are two examples of the latter; LL Cool J’s new song “Ratchet” and Fat Joe’s “Instagram That Hoe.” LL and Fat Joe have given much to hip-hop so this is not a condemnation of their careers. ( Peep the Chris Lighty tribute from the BET Hip-Hop Awards for evidence.) But these latest attempts at sounding “trendy” simply make them sound…old.
LL Cool J, “Ratchet”
Fat Joe, “Instagram That Hoe”
On “Ratchet” Mr. Smith, who has fared much better in his career making songs FOR women, chastises a groupie who has just given him brain and is now posing in the mirror wearing his chain. Actual lyrics. However, on the hook he is clearly having buyer’s remorse rapping “I never should have been with your ratchet ass” and “I should have ignored you when you sent that text.” It’s not that he is denying being with said jumpoff, it’s that she won’t leave? C’mon son. This is a Bow Wow problem, not a James Todd Smith problem. You have a wife and three kids. This is not the Todd who was banging pregnant groupies backstage as a youth (Yes, I read your book my brother). You are accomplished and confident enough to do voice over work as a dog in a Toyota RAV 4 commercial. You are a grown ass man. Leave the ratchet Power U to Juicy J. He seems to know how to handle them.
Not to mention this beat sounds like a retread of Ludacris’ “The Potion.”
Now Mr. Cartagena. You preempted my Juicy J comment by linking with him for your own display of midlife crisis struggle called “Instagram That Hoe.” The man that has given us “Sh*t Is Real,” “Lean Back,” “We Thuggin” and BIG PUN (R.I.P.) has basically warmed over Andy Milonakis’ “Let Me Twitter Dat” in an attempt to sound current. Unfortunately, Joe sounds more like Homer Simpson’s dad using the iPhone 5. Please get Scoope DeVille back on the line.
You are a grown ass man.
This has been a 70s baby PSA…
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