Redman On Rap Ageism:<br> 'I Say When I Draw the Line'

Reggie Noble doesn't mince words. Quite the contrary, Redman speaks his mind and he has a lot to say. He's working hard in the studio, he's launched his new "Muddy Waters Show" on ROCK THE BELLS Radio, he's in the best shape of his life, and he's kicking ass.

In our conversation, he and I chopped it up about maturing in Hip-Hop and making sure everyone understands how important it is to not feed into generation gaps and work to maintain a connection, a lineage, throughout this rap shit. 

"Me and Busta [Rhymes] been talking all week," Redman says as he preps breakfast in his kitchen. "We was talking on the phone and one of the convos we talked about was our generation being the first cool [Hip-Hop] generation to get old."

Elder rappers are having high profile wins, and it's long overdue in an industry that could be unforgiving and short-sighted about "relevance." When Redman brings up artists like Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, he points out that they have never stopped believing in their art, and ponders why anyone believes they should.

"The generation before us, they are our big brothers — they wasn't too much older than us. And I'm sure they don't have that mentality of 'Hey, man — I'm getting too old.' Nah, I say when I'm too old. I say when I draw the line."

He recalls a moment years ago when he saw Kangol Kid at an airport in Europe and the UTFO rapper told him he was headed back to the U.S. after a successful European tour. 

"Kangol is a good friend of mine. He's a good friend to everybody, really, him and his wife. They show love. Amazing couple," Red says. "Before I connected with Kangol, maybe in the early 2000s, I was coming from overseas and I seen Kangol coming from overseas. I was like 'What you doin' over here?' And he was like 'I was over here working, doing shows.' Me and [Method Man] was doing a tour and on our way home and he was like 'Me, too!'"

"And when I saw him, it gave me such a relief. He dropped his records in the early-to-mid 80s and he's still working, he's still known. He refuses to say it's over for the Kangol Kid. He got fans overseas. UTFO got fans overseas. Gladys Knight, Earth Wind & Fire still on the road. KISS still goes on the road. They've got fans. So what makes me any fucking different?"

Ageism has been an ongoing topic in Hip-Hop. The belief that Hip-Hop is a "young man's game" is looking more and more antiquated by the day; with elder artists like Nas, Busta Rhymes, Public Enemy and Goodie Mob all releasing albums in 2020. Before Hip-Hop, rock & roll was also thought to be solely for the youth; but time would prove that false. The same is happening to Hip-Hop now, but Redman feels that there has to be more connections and respect. 

"There's not a gang of young dudes saying 'Yo, man — Imma get this jazz shit going on.' No, bro — it's Hip-Hop," he explains. "So yes, it's going to attract a young audience. The young kids are doing what they see their older brothers doing. When we came out, some of the older muhfuckas were talking about us, too! There wasn't a lot, but there was a couple. Who are these young niggas smoking blunts, saggin' their pants?'

"But 90s niggas, we knew how to respect the generation before us," he says, before ruminating on how some artists believe older artists "had their time." "We would never do that. Because there's a certain discipline. Our brothers before us showed us the way."

"50 Cent is one of the last mohicans — in terms of artists with our fabric," Red feels. "He's one of the last...with our DNA." But he ponders some other names who emerged in the 2010s as also torchbearers.

"There's some younger guys," he acknowledges. Like Kendrick [Lamar], Like J. Cole, like Joey Bada$$." 

"We're dealing with such a fast society of music, and [we're] dealing with so much that people gotta think and worry about now, their attention span is short," Red says. "Super short. They bump the album, wear it out for about a week and then it's done."


Redman is putting in work. Dropping music, hosting a show, getting fit — it's all a testament to the man's drive. Longevity isn't something that just happens; it has to be cultivated and nurtured. Wisdom and clarity are things that take time, and Reggie has put in the time and he's reaped the benefits. When he speaks, he's still as zany as ever, still as wild as ever. But there's a sense of purpose to everything he does. 

When I mention that his new show is going to offer fans some "real nigga radio," Redman is quick to check me and drop some knowledge. 

"No fucking way," he says adamantly. "That's not how I move. I don't move with niggerism. I move with distinguished gentleman actions. I move with God actions. I move with boss actions. This is grown man shit." 

Redman is a grown ass man. Don't get it twisted. And don't even think about telling him to slow down. 


Check out Redman's new MUDDY WATERS SHOW, monthly on Rock The Bells Radio

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