“You gotta keep being great”: Why Pusha T still raps over 40
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"You gotta keep being great": Why Pusha T still raps over 40

Pusha T is a legend in hip-hop and has worked with the best of the best. As one-half of the famous rap duo Clipse, the lyricist (real name Terrence Thornton) rose out of Virginia Beach in the late 1990s and worked with Pharrell Williams regularly.

His fellow member was his brother, Gene Thornton, rapping as No Malice. With his brother rapping as a duo in their local area, they would rise alongside Virginia Beach natives The Neptunes, frequently featuring on their projects. In 1996, Pharrell Williams would help secure the duo a record deal. 

As a product of the 1990s and early 2000s, Thornton has been present in the culture for over 25 years. That said, compared to figures such as Travis Scott, Tyler The Creator, and Lil Baby, the ‘Grindin’ emcee may be considered “old”, and in a sit-down interview with the IDEA GENERATION podcast, the lyricist spoke about navigating the scene as someone over 40. 

Following the release of his New Blue Sun flute LP last year, André 3000 spoke to GQ magazine and sparked a debate around whether MCs who are nearing or over the age of 40 should still attempt to rap. 

When asked by the GQ journalist why he chose to release an entirely instrumental project, 3000 responded, “I ain’t got no raps like that. It actually feels…sometimes it feels inauthentic for me to rap because I don’t have anything to talk about in that way.”

He continued, “I’m 48 years old. And not to say that age is a thing that dictates what you rap about, but in a way, it does. And things that happen in my life, like, what are you talking about? ‘I got to go get a colonoscopy.’ What are you rapping about? ‘My eyesight is going bad.’ You can find cool ways to say it, but….”

Despite his opinion, many artists disagreed with him, including the likes of Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi and even Pusha. As someone who came up under Kanye, who is 46 years old, in his sit-down with IDEA GENERATION, Thornton explained that if you approach rap music the right way, you can release it no matter what age you are.  

Speaking about André 3000’s comments, Thornton asserted, “I think it’s kind of stifling to the genre to even think like that. As long as you’re living rap and you’re living hip-hop in all capacities and as long as you’re still sharp with that pen, [if] you got something to say, we wanna hear it.”

Thornton insisted that as long as you bring your fans along for the ride and remain true to yourself, they will consume your material regardless, stating, “When I think about artists and people maturing with their fans, I think about myself, and I think about how whatever I do, I make it so I can try to compete. Make something so great that it can compete with everything without compromising who I am.”

The ‘Diet Coke’ lyricist insisted that the only essential to success as an emcee over 40 is to remain new and make sure you’re music can compete with what is currently popular, explaining, “I have to do it so great that it does compete with the younger generation and whatever’s popular and whatever’s going on, and I feel like that’s the task. But if you’re going to be in it, that should be the task. You gotta keep being great. When you stop being great, you gotta get out.”

You can listen to Pusha T and his brother No Malice speaking about their journeys in the video below.