When rap music first emerged in the fall of 1979 by way of a catchy song titled “Rapper’s Delight” by a trio from Harlem called the Sugarhill Gang, it was assumed by just about everyone that this was a novelty song.
The public had never heard anyone “rappin’ to the beat.”
The song, featuring Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien and Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson rhythmically talking over the track from Chic’s “Good Times,” triggered a rap explosion and launched the hip-hop empire.
This new music was also young music, but a lot of years have passed since those early years and many of the pioneering rap stars are now in their forties or fifties. For example, Afrika Bambaataa recently turned 56. He is famous for “Planet Rock” and “Looking For The Perfect Beat,” made with his group, the Soul Sonic Force.
But is there such a thing as being “too old” to rap? Not according to actor-rapper LL Cool J, 45, who is currently touring as headliner of a hip-hop show that features fellow veterans Ice Cube, De La Soul and Public Enemy.
There is another “vintage rap” show out there on the road as well, with Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, Rob Base, MC Lyte, the Sugarhill Gang and Slick Rick.
However, Will Smith, 44, now a superstar actor, sees it differently. He said he has gotten “jiggy wit’ it” for the last time. (And yes, the word is “wit.”) He feels that as one gets older, there can be a credibility factor, not to mention a lack of full commitment. But he appears to be in the minority.
What it amounts to is this: Do it for as long as you feel it, and people want see you do it.