Yesterday, numerous hip-hop news outlets reported that iconic 90s-era rapper Q-Tip has signed on with Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music. Now that Kanye is overseeing Q-Tip’s upcoming fifth solo release, The Last Zulu, the hype factor for that album has increased considerably.
Since his days as the leader of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip has earned widespread respect and acclaim for his thought-provoking, socially conscious lyrics and influence on hip-hop culture as a whole. Still, the 42-year-old rapper has largely been under the radar since his 2009 album The Renaissance, and his presence on the charts has waned.
Collaborating with G.O.O.D. Music is an equally beneficial move for both parties. Q-Tip’s career can get off life support and Kanye can round out his roster (Common, Big Sean, Pusha T) with another iconic emcee.
With the notable exception of Jay-Z, the hip-hop genre is primarily a young man’s game and veterans have to be creative to stay relevant.
For instance, Busta Rhymes, who’s put 15 years into the rap game, made a surprising move last year and signed with rap power house Cash Money, the home to Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake. From a diehard fan’s perspective, it may be hard to comprehend the logic behind Busta’s decision to join a team of rising stars when he already accomplished artist in his own right. Yet by affiliating himself with Cash Money, he’s now able to introduce himself to their younger demographic.
Juicy J is a founding member of the Memphis based rap collective Three 6 Mafia. Three 6 Mafia has been around since the early 90s and are well known for their impact on southern hip-hop, but they began to receive mainstream exposure when they won an Oscar for Best Original Song with “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from the movie Hustle & Flow.
That was back in 2006 and after a few reality shows, Juicy J began to work on his solo mixtape projects. After some collaborations with popular rapper, Wiz Khalifa, Wiz decided to sign the 37-year-old to his imprint Taylor Gang. Wiz has stated in interviews that he grew up as a huge fan of Juicy J’s music and he appreciated his ability to produce consistent music over the years. Juicy J’s role as the elder statesman of Taylor Gang may help stabilize the young rap label, and he could serve as a mentor to Wiz.
Whether you are just a casual listener of hip-hop or a die hard fan, be prepared to see more of this trend of re-branding retro rappers.
Follow Kyle Harvey on Twitter at @HarveyWins