The topic of ageism in hip-hop has made its rounds on social media this week. Sparked by new Album Age, by Statik Selektah’s partner/rapper JFK, the conversation has drawn comments from the likes of Dave East, Paul Waul, Big K.R.I.T, and Statik himself.
K.R.I.T shared, “It’s weird ’because it is, but it’s not supposed to be. Hip Hop is a youngin’ genre that we know of right now, so I think about blues and soul, and you talk about them bands they never really dissed the OGs, they never really talked down. They talked about the inspiration.”
As the conversation continues, we got to thinking about our favorite rappers 40 and over. This list is not indicative of a rapper’s full discography, instead focusing on the artist’s most recent releases.
Recent Drops: 10, Hitler Wears Hermes 7
Westside Gunn may seem like a recent addition to the rap scene, but in reality, the 40-year-old artist has been making music since 2005 when he dropped his first mixtape. However, his career suffered a setback due to a prison stint on weapons charges, preventing him from releasing music between 2006 and 2011.
Despite the hiccup, Westside Gunn returned to the rap game with a vengeance, determined to put his hometown of Buffalo on the map. With the release of his groundbreaking debut album, “Flygod,” in 2016, Westside Gunn has led Griselda to immense success. His hard work has paid off, with major label signings, management deals with Roc Nation, and co-signs from big names in the industry such as Jay-Z and Eminem.
2022 album 10 portrays a rapper who is still hungry, and immensely talented with connections to some of the best features around.
Recent Drops: RTJ CU4TRO, Run The Jewels 3
Killer Mike rose to prominence as a member of the Atlanta-based rap collective, Dungeon Family. He gained recognition for his collaborations with Outkast and Jay-Z. That said, Mike truly found his voice as an underground artist, tackling social issues in his music.
In 2013, Killer Mike formed Run the Jewels with El-P, which took his career to new heights. The duo’s unique blend of hard-hitting beats and socially conscious lyrics garnered critical acclaim and widespread popularity. With Run the Jewels, Killer Mike has cemented his status as an underground legend.
Killer Mike’s success is a testament to his talent and dedication to his craft. He continues to use his platform to address important issues and inspire change, making him not only a great rapper but also a powerful voice for social justice. Clearly indicative of a top rapper 40 and over.
Recent Drops: God Don’t Make Mistakes, La Maquina
Westside Gunn’s Griselda running mate Conway the Machine thrives through a gritty and reflective style. Conway’s music often reflects on his personal struggles and the harsh realities of life in the streets. A voice that is authentic, considering he survived a near-fatal shooting that left him with facial paralysis.
His distinctive voice and complex rhymes have earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated following. Conway’s storytelling ability, combined with his raw and unapologetic approach to his craft are truly endearing qualities. Whether he’s rapping about his past experiences or his current success, Conway’s music is both authentic and captivating.
Recent Drops: Sorry 4 The Wait, Trust Fund Babies
For over three decades, Lil Wayne became a dominant force in the rap game, releasing classic mixtapes, albums, and features that have cemented his legacy as one of the greatest rappers of all time. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Jay-Z, and has won numerous awards for his groundbreaking contributions to hip-hop.
Need proof that Weezy is still relevant? How about a recent Grammy Awards performance and feature on JID’s lauded album The Forever Story.
Recent Drops: Features – JID, Kanye West, Freddie Gibbs
Throughout his career, Mos Def has been celebrated for his thought-provoking lyrics, versatile flow, and commitment to social and political causes. He remains a respected and influential figure in the hip-hop community, inspiring countless artists with his music and activism.
In addition to his talents on the mic, Bey has also had a successful acting career, appearing in films like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Italian Job. Mos Def gained widespread recognition for his solo album Black on Both Sides in 1999, which featured hit singles like Ms. Fat Booty and Mathematics. He went on to release several critically acclaimed albums and collaborate with a range of artists, including Talib Kweli, Gorilla, and Kanye West.
Recent Drops: Cheat Codes, Streams of Thought Vol. 3
Black Thought is a prime example of an older rapper who has aged gracefully and continued to elevate his craft with each passing year. As the lead MC of The Roots for over two decades, he has established himself as one of the most respected and talented rappers in the game. In 2018, he released his debut solo album, Streams of Thought, Vol. 1, in collaboration with 9th Wonder, showcasing his incredible lyrical ability and range.
Since then, Black Thought has continued to push the envelope with each project, working with different producers like Salaam Remi, Sean C, and Danger Mouse. His dedication and work ethic serve as an inspiration for younger artists, demonstrating the importance of staying hungry and focused in the competitive world of hip-hop. He’s gone as far as starting his own emcee workshop at Carnegie Hall. With his unparalleled skill and unwavering commitment to his craft, Black Thought has cemented his place as one of the all-time greats in the rap game.
Recent Drops: Drill Music in Zion, Drogas Wave
Lupe Fiasco set the bar so high with his first two albums it felt like there could be nothing but a downward spiral. And it appeared to be happening in the mid-2010s, with some mediocre projects and weird internet beef.
As an independent artist, Lupe has finally been able to fully showcase his unparalleled skill and creativity. His music is both thought-provoking and entertaining, addressing important social and political issues while still remaining highly engaging and enjoyable. Lupe’s work stands as a testament to the power of independence in the rap game, and he continues to be a major force in the genre.
Recent Drops: $oul $old $eperately, Alfredo
$oul $old $eperately was one of the best hip-hop albums of 2022. Point blank, period. Freddie Gibbs is a highly skilled rapper who has been making waves in the rap game for over a decade. Known for his smooth flow and hard-hitting lyrics, Gibbs has established himself as one of the most talented MCs of his generation. Over the years, he has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Madlib, The Alchemist, and Pusha T, and has released numerous critically acclaimed projects, including Piñata and Bandana. With his gritty, street-oriented style and razor-sharp rhymes, Freddie Gibbs is a true force to be reckoned with.
Recent Drops: King’s Disease Trilogy
In an illustrious career that has spanned nearly 30 years and 15 solo albums, Nas has remained a relevant and powerful force with the aid of Hit-Boy. The King’s Disease Trilogy has only modernized a legend, presenting his legendary storytelling in a format that is digestible to 2022 fans, and nostalgic for those of us who have been around long enough to watch his rise.
Most impressively, Nas still raps with a purpose. An edge and hunger that are generally absent from an artist with such an impressive pedigree. As always, he displays a balance of street wisdom and business acumen, setting a blueprint for generations to follow.
Recent Drops: It’s Almost Dry, Daytona
As one-half of the iconic hip-hop duo, Clipse, Pusha T rose to fame in the early 2000s with a unique brand of coke rap that was both gritty and introspective. After the group disbanded, Pusha continued to hone his craft, releasing a string of successful solo projects that cemented his status as one of the most talented lyricists of his generation.
His most recent album, It’s Almost Dry, is a testament to his longevity and continued relevance in the rap game. With his sharp wit, hard-hitting verses, and unrelenting flow, Pusha T is a force to be reckoned with. Who else over 40 is releasing albums that consistently move the masses like King Push?