The Acceptance Of Forty Something Emcees and DJ’s

The art form of rap music turned 40 this year. The genesis of hip-hop is said to have begun in the Bronx, New York from the turntables of one DJ Kool Herc. Fast forward to 2013 and many older, prominent emcees are still relevant and flourishing in what has been known for decades as a “young man’s game.”

DJ Kool Herc Summer Jam Flyer

I remember hearing often in lyrics during rap’s golden age (1986-1994) that many an emcee held major disdain for the prospect of holding a mic at age 40 and beyond. Their intention was to “stack money to the ceiling” and either a.) retire with their riches on a beach in the islands or b.) perhaps attain CEO status of the very record label they were recording for at the time, but never, ever could a father of grown children or a man with grays in his beard “rock the bells” or make a crowd say “ho.” Right?!? Wrong…

Jay Z

Times have changed. Wordsmiths such as Jay Z (age 44), Nas (age 40) and Eminem (age 41), among others, are moving into 2014 with a renewed relevancy. For example, after 12 albums and at the age of 44, Jay Z leads all musicians this year with 9 Grammy nominations. Other emcees like Kanye West, NasPusha T, 2 Chainz and Juicy J are in their late 30’s and as popular as they’ve ever been with some enjoying a true renaissance with younger audiences. DJs such as Jazzy Jeff, DJ Premier and Pete Rock make quite the lucrative living these days spinning parties and events worldwide. No longer is 35 the expiration date for a major player in beats, rhymes and life. It’s no coincidence that the cogs within the hip-hop machine are still “getting to it” later in life much like the music itself; still thriving after 40 years.


Music acts from other genres have fans that follow them with extreme passion and enthusiasm until they are old and grey. As a 41 year old DJ, it warms my heart to see the music that transformed me from boy to man many years ago start to garner that same lifelong loyalty. The way I see it? Rap music can keep you young forever.

-Jermaine Raetone Johnson

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