PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

When They're 65...

What will some of today's most well-known hip-hop artists be doing in 2035? Maybe they won't be running the music world, but they'll probably be doing something beyond applying Fixodent to their grills.

In early April, the New York Times reported that Jay-Z was leaving Def Jam Records to sign a monumental $150 million deal with the concert promoter Live Nation, one which would encompass his tours, records, and endorsements. Coming on the heels of similar deals with music giants U2 and Madonna, the contract represented a major shift within the industry. Record labels might not be dead, but with album sales declining and the biggest artists looking in other directions for guaranteed revenue, the future's not looking too great, either.

The Times piece quotes Jay-Z as saying that he plans to change his promotional strategy, relying more on touring and less on radio to showcase new music -- "like an indie band", he said. While I wonder how well this plan might work in actuality -- most mainstream rap fans I know don't go to too many concerts -- Jay clearly thinks it will work. After all, as he says, he's "turned into the Rolling Stones of hip-hop", meaning, presumably, that, like the never-say-die rock band, he'll still be selling out stadiums when he's 65.

Hip-hop has traditionally been a young man's game (something that became painfully clear to me as I watched an over-the-hill Sugarhill Gang perform in a mostly empty student-center events hall in college), though Jay-Z has done his part to redefine that, as he's still arguably the genre's biggest star at 38. It's hard to imagine that he'll be able to maintain that high level of popularity and relevance a few decades from now (or if he'll even have the desire to, given the fact that he's retired once already). But it's not impossible that we could be buying tickets to see the wrinkled mogul -- along with a still-up-and-coming (but mostly arthritic) Memphis Bleek -- in 2035.

And if Jay-Z's still performing then, some of his peers might still be around, too. Maybe they won't be ruling the music world, but they'll probably be doing something beyond just applying Fixodent to their grills. So what will some of today's most well-known hip-hop artists be doing in 2035? I looked into my crystal ball to find out.

Kanye West

After running out of school-related album titles somewhere around 2016 (he didn't defend his Dissertation particularly well), Kanye disappeared from the spotlight as suddenly as he'd entered it, causing fans to speculate that he had finally taken his rightful place in heaven as Rolling Stone had predicted years prior. (In truth, 'Ye was simply working as a producer behind the scenes, under the Google-confusing pseudonym Kayne West). However, after hearing the rumors, he couldn't resist a comeback, with a "Jesus Walks" tour in 2030. The move was roundly panned by critics, which of course encouraged the Recording Academy to nominate the accompanying live album for a Grammy. It didn't win. Since being banned from Los Angeles due to his antics at the show, West has been difficult to locate.

50 Cent

Things Curtis Jackson has claimed he would quit since 2025: rapping, mumbling, Vitamin Water, rapping, acting, wearing tank tops, waiting in long lines for brunch, parenting, rapping (for real this time), spicy food.


You wouldn't think an album title could get much more controversial than Nas's 2008 release, but the always resourceful rapper proved everyone wrong over the last couple decades. We can't print any of the words he used (even thinking about them is probably a thought crime), but let's just put it this way -- not only did Wal-Mart refuse to stock his items, they had to immediately burn the press releases stating their intention to do so. Still, Nas kept churning out albums until 2028 (some of them almost as bad as Nastradamus), when he finally retired, in part because of a near-fatal ether addiction.


Though he no longer has to defend his status as a legitimate actor, as he felt he did when I interviewed him back in 2007, he still has a chip on his shoulder about his talents. Earlier in his career, this led him to take on some pretty challenging roles -- including an ill-fated turn as Jeremy Reed in a 2015 remake of Powder. Still, he can afford the occasional flop, just as he can afford to sink money into passion projects like last year's silent film, Diary of a Sweater Vest. Well, as long as Serena approves.

Mos Def

Grizzled policeman, grizzled inmate, grizzled patient sharing a hospital room with Jack Nicholson -- there's no film role formerly filled by Morgan Freeman that Mos Def won't take. The multiple Oscar-winning actor does have a troubling penchant for reciting his voiceovers in rhyme, but as long as white people still like him, his career knows no bounds (though privately, some wonder if he'll ever surpass his groundbreaking performance in Brown Sugar).

Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli

Take it from Kevin Long, Mr. Kweli's former roommate at the Shady Pines Rest Home in Brooklyn. "It was cute the first day he moved in, when he said his gout made his joints feel like burnt roaches. I thought hey, this guy's got a sense of humor. But he just didn't quit -- the food was 'as tasteless as a Nazi joke at shul', the bingo games were 'fixed like young puppies'. When he started telling me my granddaughter's skin was the inspiration for cocoa butter, I had to put in for a transfer."

Lil' Wayne

Weezy (it's more than a nickname now, as the mixtape king suffers from chronic emphysema) has enjoyed a fruitful career in endorsements, much to the surprise of those who ridiculed his first ad for Strapped Condoms. From his legendary Mentos spot (in which he is on the receiving end of a particularly violent Heimlich maneuver) to the graphic locker-room campaign for tough-actin' Tinactin, it looks like the often-rumored-to-be-gay rapper has had the last laugh.

The Roots

With the group's albums becoming increasingly political over the past several years, it should come as no surprise that one of its members would turn toward a career in public service. Now a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson (D-PA) has his eyes set on the presidency. Though the red-white-and-blue afro picks his supporters handed out at the Iowa caucuses gave him an early advantage, his opponent has repeatedly questioned his ability to respond to national emergencies, given that he's usually still performing at three a.m. Thompson's relationship with the opinionated (and online-ordained) Reverend Black Thought hasn't exactly helped matters, either.

Soulja Boy

Soulja Boy

Somewhere on the streets of Atlanta, you might come across a babbling middle-aged man. Stop for a moment and listen to him. In between his ramblings about Robocop and "cocking on your bitch", he has something important to say. Lean in close, making sure not to touch him. You will hear his wisdom: "Save your money."

Dr. Dre

Forgot about Dre? No, he wouldn't let you. Now a celebrated horror-film director (in a nod to his Long Beach past, each of his movies contains a scene in which a well-endowed young lady gets her bikini top pulled off at a volleyball game -- invariably, she dies soon after), Dre is still hard at work on what will be his final album, Detox. Anyone who questions him about its continually delayed release is quickly reminded not to disrespect the D.R.E.. After all, this is the guy who made Eminem's career...


...which doesn't mean quite as much as it once did, as Em has now reached the final leg of his Elvis-esque career. Now a robust 300 pounds (instead of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, he appears to favor Arby's), the former king of the hip-hop world spends his days secluded in his version of Graceland: a trailer park-like kingdom situated just outside Detroit. Aging men in wifebeaters still occasionally journey to its gates, but only the surviving members of his trusted D-12 crew are allowed entrance. In a related note, his daughter Hailie is now a high-powered corporate lawyer. Go figure.

Snoop Dogg

Dre's other partner-in-crime has fared much better. He's continued to capitalize on his widespread popular appeal with little regard for keeping his street cred intact. He now has an entire television channel -- Snoopin' on Snoop -- dedicated solely to his endeavors, covering everything from recent episodes of Grandfather 'Hood to commercials for Snoop-related products (pimped-out Segways are my favorite) to the popular Izzle Hour, which compiles every ironic reference to the rapper's revolutionary suffix ever made on VH1. What makes his continued success most impressive is that, thanks to the legalization of marijuana in 2018, Snoop's been doing everything with only three-quarters of a lung.

OK, so not everyone appears to have as bright a future as Jay-Z sees for himself (we might want to wait a few more years before deciding who really belongs on Mount Rapmore), but really, why would we need more than the greatest rapper alive -- I mean, unless we were trying to sell tickets to the Glastonbury Festival. Honestly, if Jigga can be entertaining enough at 65 to keep Brooklyn Nets fans entertained during halftime, I think we'll all be pretty darn impressed. We can only hope Scorsese's still around to document the achievement.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.