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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: The Wacky World of Fake Rap Retirements

Robbie runs through a list of rappers that refuse to leave the game (even though they said they would)

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Rap retirees tend to fall into three main categories: attention-seeking cry babies; folks who became so devoutly religious that the very idea of making words rhyme for a living is considered a grievous sin against their beliefs; and those lucky few who become so ridiculously wealthy that they actually struggle to make the time to enter a studio in between shareholder meetings, corporate branding synergy seminars and hanging out on yachts. Everybody else either continues rapping until they enter an actual retirement village, gets a sweet city job with health insurance, or spends their autumn years making angry YouTube videos talking about how another, far more popular rapper ‘can’t come back to the hood’ because he’s gotten too soft/is scared of some local tough guy/is a liar and/or a snitch.

The first and most amusing bunch are the emotional types who make like Eric Cartman and shout, ‘Screw you, I’m going home!’ Often the direct result of a Twitter beef and/or meltdown, these are almost always painfully transparent publicity stunts intended purely to generate a couple of days worth of clickbait and possibly some tearful Facebook status updates from devoted stans. Lupe Fiasco, no stranger to social media tantrums, threatened to abandon rap music (for what seems like the umpteenth time) by the end of 2016, due in part to Chief Keef threatening to put a shoe in him.

As is the fashion these days, something Lupe said in a radio interview was misinterpreted and resulted in Keef calling out the kick-flipping fella as a ‘hoe-ass nigga’. Fiasco got on some Ghandi shit and told the scrappy youngster that ‘i love u lil brah’, which he may have meant with the best of intentions but would have seemed like trolling from Keef’s point of view. The real tragedy here is that Lupe plans to release three albums this year before he hangs up the mic, although seeing as though it’s the end of July and he still hasn’t unveiled the first one, perhaps these were just empty threats.

The rapper/actor formerly known as Mos Def has been involved in bizarre incidents since he made a name for himself during the Rawkus era, my favourite being his marriage to a Canadian stripper after a lengthy three-day courtship, who he skipped town on after sobering up and being told that he wasn’t the first well-known gentleman to have sampled her maple syrup, if you’ll pardon the unfortunate euphemism. On the plus side, he did introduce the term ‘tall Israelis’ into the rap lexicon to describe evil record company executives, which is an achievement that I’m sure Professor Griff would have been eternally grateful for.

Currently stuck in South Africa after some travel visa mess-up, Yasiin announced his impending retirement via a voice-mail rap to Kanye West and released a new track – which may or may not be from his final LP – in June. The motivation behind Mr Bey’s decision to leave stage and screen seems to be his increasing dedication to political activism, such as the time he recreated the terrors of force feeding experienced by prisoners at Guantanomo Bay. Not really anything to clown him about there so I’ll move on…

In terms of hilariously overblown and self-deluded fake rap retirement announcements, Charles Hamilton is easily one of the front runners. Following a series of unfortunate incidents, such as getting punched in the face whist rapping by Mary J. Blige’s stepdaughter, admitting himself to psychiatric hospital and his arrest after punching a cop. Apparently, Hamilton crashed his girlfriend’s father’s car – while unlicensed – and in a dazed state wandered into a crowd of sports fans leaving a game in Cleveland and began playing ‘imaginary basketball’ until a member of the local constabulary grabbed him and received a sock in the jaw for his troubles.

Charles’ farewell address from 2012 is comedy gold:

“Almost 150 projects. Almost 10,000 works of music. Established and flourished the careers of my closest friends, as well as allies I hoped would come around. Just to be a friend. Everyone from an early Jay-Z to Show Tufli. I was there. Watched and listened to them all. Some showed love (Corpy, Sha-leik, Sciryl, etc.), others took their pedestal and walked on by (J. Cole, Drake, Colin Munroe, etc.)…I’m pretty alone in my solituitous world of AsianRussianDisciplined musicianship…lol I used to have the biggest crush on Shi Reeves (porn star). (laughs to self). Without further ado, I announce my retirement. I’ve had a helluva run. 2005-2012. CEO of several companies, critically acclaimed, …overall, with my accomplishments, retiring at 24 is all I can ask for.”

Amazing stuff. Predictably, Charles returned to rap and has an album promised for this year. Perhaps he should form a supergroup with Mickey Factz and Kid Cudi named Blog Rap AllStarzzz. Speaking of ‘Cudders,’ I seem to recall several fake retirements from him as well. Meanwhile, legends such Rakim and Big Daddy Kane haven’t released any solo material in years but continue to perform live. The only time that it’s actually worth announcing that you plan to quit rap is if you’re one of the top rappers in the game and you’re at the top of your game. If Biggie hadn’t been killed and walked away after a third LP? Now that would have been an effin’ retirement!

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