How I Aged Gracefully in Hip-Hop
Going from being fixated on good green and syrup to obsessed with rooting for my granddaughter at her cheerleading competitions
“All! Star! Revolution!”
I hear these words at least twice a week. It’s the name of the cheerleading organization that my granddaughter Taylor cheers for, and something my wife and I support to the fullest. She’s been cheering for three years now and loves it to death. So I find myself there almost every Wednesday for practice and at a competition on most Saturdays. This isn’t how I saw myself spending my weekends at 46 — but it’s my new normal.
For the past 27 years, I’ve been a professional recording artist. Rapper, to be exact. But as I’ve gotten older, my life is no longer dominated by recording studios and nightclubs. Even though I still perform 60 to 75 times a year, my downtime doesn’t revolve around all things rap. As a father of two and now grandfather of a five-year-old granddaughter, I find myself in places I never thought I’d be in. And that’s okay.
I started my rap career in 1992. It was a great year in hip-hop: Dr. Dre released The Chronic, Gang Starr’s Daily Operation came out, and Mecca and the Soul Brother by Pete Rock and CL Smooth dropped. Our* debut album Too Hard To Swallow was released that year as well. Hip-hop as a culture was barely old enough to drink, but I still wasn’t. I wasn’t married, had no responsibilities or obligations, and no one cared about my opinions on politics or social conditions in America. All I had to do was be good at my craft — and I was. I could stay up all hours of the night, partying and living it up, embracing my newfound celebrity status. Looking for good weed and good times was my only concern. Hitting up cities like Atlanta and linking up with my guy Big Gipp to get those good trees and sliding through Magic City was the norm. But that only lasted so long. Around the corner was a whole new life.
I met my wife Queenie in the summer of ’96. I’d just gotten the mastered version of my album Ridin’ Dirty and asked my friend Eddie to set up a small get-together at his place…