From The Grio — It wasn’t that long that nothing about Warren G being surrounded by a colorful array of beautiful, 20-something women would strike you as odd. Yet, nearly 20 years removed from the peak of his popularity, it seems strangely fitting that the same suggestive imagery isn’t just a day on set at a music video but an ad for a male enhancement product that has “the Regulator”‘s seal of approval.
Hip-hop is being forced to act its age and unfortunately for some, that age is in the middle. So how are some of the genres former stars handling the transitions from headliner to has been? That really depends.
As hip-hop weathers its mid-life crisis, the avenues for those who once dominated the genre seem limited to little more than banking off the novelty of their sheer existence or the nostalgia of those who have their peak frozen in time.
So what are aging rap stars to do? There are a few well-worn paths for hip-hop’s no-so relevant:
The pulpit. From Kurtis Blow to Rev Run and Ma$e after them both, leaving the fast life and following a higher calling makes perfect sense. Few gigs offer the adrenaline rush of being the center of attention coupled with the power of saving souls thrown on top. But its also a dangerous situation to place someone who is used to extravagance. What happens when the humble, man of the cloth starts to indulge and his new life quickly resembles the one they once lived?
The penitentiary. If finding God wasn’t on the artists’ post-fame agenda, this is one place that will offer the time to reflect on the decision. By now we all understand that the 80s were a hectic time and a lot of things went down then that couldn’t be accepted as cultural norms today.
Face it, the biggest stars you can think of all have a story or two from the inside and hip-hop’s no different. Like Mystikal or Shyne recently, think about how many rappers you haven’t heard from in forever that are behind bars right now penning that memoir they’ll start shopping before they’re even released. Or turning their negative situation into a positive by finding the, aforementioned, God and schooling ‘young cats’ on how not to end up where they are. Some are even attempting to record new material from the inside.
The circuit. Say the first two are too extreme or they’ve already been checked them both off the former rap star checklist, then a legends tour/professional conference circuit is an option. Using the term legend very loosely, these tours have been great career second winds for some of your favorites. Frankly, what would Special Ed and others be up to if not for tearing through a set that features that song they rocked the hell out of when they were 18, in whole in the wall venues or hotel ballrooms across the country. And the community eats it up. It makes the fans feel good to still see them going and the artist feel good to see people still connect. What a win-win.
These shows seem to attract the artists who aren’t so hard up for cash that they’re willing to do just about anything, instead they’re itching for a little extra scratch and certainly aren’t against leaving the day job they settled into to chase one last payday on the road.