Legends at 30 Years Old...and Beyond

Sum here. Being that I'm an artist, I happen to hang out with a lot of artists. Not just rappers and DJs, but actors, photographers, film makers, and other various other creatures from Bohemia. Now that we're all getting a bit up in age, I'm starting to hear alot more whining about ticking clocks. Especially from rappers. In the hip-hop, there is some kind of unspoken rule that once you're over 28, it's time to throw in the towel. Understandable, because hip-hop has traditionally been the voice of the youth. At least that what it was when it started. But hip-hop is now a statesman among genres, and it's time for that to change. Especially if Sumkid has anything to do with it.

With all that said, I could give a fuck about being a 32 year old rapper, or rhyming at 58. It's what I was put here to do. Carpenters don't stop cutting wood, fishermen don't stop trapping trout, and the sun don't chill. So why should I? And I guarantee that I'm always going to be fresh, on the edge and one-of-a-kind. And I'm confident in this fact because I wouldn't be the first to hit with a gray hair in my beard. Here's a gift-list of influential and legendary artists that got mother's milk off their breath before they snatched their respective crowns.

Artists, shut ya bloodclot whinin', and take note.

Ghostface Killah


Ghostface was exactly 30 years old when his seminal sophomore LP Supreme Clientele dropped in early 2000. A twenty-something couldn't write Apollo Kids. Nowadays, he's easily the most consistent and heroic MC of our era...and it sounds like he just keeps getting better. He's on some Howlin' Wolf shit.

Joe Strummer


Joe Strummer, lead singer for The Clash, activist and spokesperson for the downtrodden was exactly 30 years old when Combat Rock dropped, widely considered his and The Clash's best piece of work, and definitely made the most waves. You might remember a single from that album called "Rock The Casbah"

George Clinton (w/Parliament)


George Clinton was 29 or 30 years old when he officially FORMED Parliament, and it was at least a year or so before they made real noise.

James Brown

James Brown was exactly 30 when he released his self-financed Live at The Apollo project, which effectively blew him up and began the waves of modern funk.

Johnny Cash


"The Man in Black" was 32 when he finally hit the charts with "Ring of Fire", hands down his biggest hit after years of trial and error.

Bruce Lee

The "Little Dragon", a martial artist but artist nonetheless, spent his whole life training for his 30s. He finally perfected his own style and workout, then maximized his strength by 31. He was deadliest at the time of his death, while filming his most popular film Enter the Dragon. He was just hitting his stride at 33.

Fela Kuti

The "Father of Afrobeat" was 29 when he dropped his legendary album Zombie and continued to make noise well throughout his 30s, revolutionizing music and message.

Marvin Gaye

Sure, Marvin had been around doing his thing since his 20s, but all the joints we really care about, he didn't write until his 30s. What he wrote as a youth made him a star, what he wrote in manhood made him a legend. He was 29 when he penned "I Heard it Through The Grapevine", and 32 when he scribed "What's Going On", the first in a string of masterpieces he would create in his 30s.

Muddy Waters


Muddy didn't get on until he was FORTY. He kept trying for two whole decades and kept running into road blocks. He moved back and forth between Chicago and Mississippi like twenty times and ate shit from the bottom of no-name blues players shoes'. But I guess that's what you gotta go through to become the Father of Chicago Blues. Can't get that kinda crown easy.

Martin Scorsese

Scorsese was 34 when he dropped the iconic Taxi Driver on us. It took him a while to get rolling, even though he was rollin with filmmaking royalty and had mad hook ups.

Tom Waits

Tom Waits was making albums forever before he got recognized for it. And much like Marvin Gaye, everything he did before Swordfishtrombones was just practice. He was 42 when he dropped that album, and from there, he became the experimental legend we know him as today. And it was at 42 that his career took off.

Willie Nelson

The "Red Headed Stranger" was 29 when he penned and dropped his first real hit "Crazy" with Patsy Cline. From there, it was smooth sailin, fresh braids and only the stickiest bud.

Leonard Cohen

I mean, Leonard Cohen didn't even THINK about recording music until he was 33.

And finally,

Chuck D

Where would we be if Chuck D told himself he was too old to rap? Dude didn't start his professional career until he was 28 when It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back dropped and 30 when Fear of a Black Planet hit.

Now...let's put some things in perspective...


  1. Sum- this is a great tribute to why our 30's are so important creatively. We all seem to think that if you don't make it by 25 that there is no hope (especially in entertainment). This is so enlightening. Thank you!- Dizam

  2. hell yea. thats a dope piece!


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