We’ve all heard the statement but do we actually believe rap is a young man’s game?
Often times, among the hip-hop community, you hear the saying, ” rap is a young man’s game.” Like this isn’t the rap game that let a 27-year-old Jay-Z drop his first album or the same rap game that let 30-year-old Rick Ross drop his first album. I find it hard to believe that the rap industry is a ‘young man’s game’ when every hip-hop heavyweight is over 30, and half of them haven’t even hit their 10-year mark in this industry. I don’t believe this colloquialism at all; I do believe there is a concerted effort on the part of the rap industry to pick up younger artist, exploit them, and spread their youthful style of thinking to the masses. I call this theory the “Younger, Dumber, Louder (YDL) Theory.” The act of getting young artist and exploiting them for sales and money is nothing new to the rap music industry. I first caught wind of this around 2007 when the beloved Soulja Boy came on the scene. He was churning out hit after hit after hit for his record label, raking in money hand over fist from ringtone sales and more. After a few brushes with the law, some ill-placed beefs with both old and new rappers, Soulja’s career seemed to be at a screeching halt. After his “Big Soulja”-Draco incident this past year, it crossed my mind, where were Soulja’s mentors? Where were his big homies? Why didn’t anyone from the labels he dealt with early on set him up with someone to guide this young man? Soulja is just the first in many sad cases. It’s 2017 and trap music and mumble rap have taken over the landscape of hip-hop. Rap has always had a place for hardcore stories about drugs and violence; rap was once seen to be the voice for the voiceless. These untold stories of brothers and sisters of the inner city was therapy, not glorification. It seems that after the success of Chief Keef, it’s become a trend on the labels end to pick up younger rappers who are deep in the streets, give them money, no mentor, let them get in trouble, and soon after the label drops them or they end up in jail. What I find even more sickening is the fact that some of these young men the labels pick up have open cases ranging from weapon possession to home invasion and they are marketing them to your kids. Imagine being a 17-year-old in high school logging on Instagram and seeing another 17-year-old nationally known rapper on IG with pistols, money, weed and women. That can take a toll on a young man’s mind. I don’t fault the artist because hell, he’s only 17. He is doing what he has been doing all his life. I fault the label for not doing the right thing, I fault the label for letting their “business investment” self-destruct. Often times when these younger men that are signed to these record labels–the same young men that have business brands–seem to consistently get in trouble, lash out about things on the internet, or say politically incorrect things on the internet, no one from the label is telling them, “yo chill, you trippin’.” Often times their homies, who are ‘yes men,’ just chalk it up to them keeping it real. These young men live in a life of jewelry, cars, and drugs, but have no idea about their business. That is why the label doesn’t get them a mentor. It’s easy to take someone’s money while they are distracted with the perks that come along with being famous. I encourage every young rapper not to get “lost in the sauce” and keep your eyes on your business. The consumers play a very big role also. As consumers, lovers, and supporters of hip-hop, we can’t let this divisiveness from the label tear our younger generation down. Encourage your youth to think for themselves, do their own research, and let them know that everything that glitters isn’t gold.