It pays to have friends in high places. Mawnstr Christidis and Eric Steuer make up the incredible team called Not the 1s, and we are big, big fans. They recently reached out to us because they were interested in highlighting their favorite (aging) rappers. Their pitch was to call out some of the most entertaining talents in the genre, who are still bringing light to the industry despite the fact that they’re not quite young’ns anymore.
“We decided to do a little write-up about six rappers who are still killin’ it even though they’re older fellas now,” explained Eric. “We listen to a lot of older rappers because we are older ourselves and we grew up on these guys. And they’re still amazing. Each of us wrote about three rappers. Mawnstr wrote about E-40, Sean Price, and Suga Free. I wrote about Posdnuos, Redman, and MF DOOM.”
The guys have also got some new music to share with us, their latest single “Not the 1s to Be Gamed On” is featured for your streaming pleasure.
Mawnstr Christidis’ Top 3 Older Rappers
When I thought about older rappers who still bring it, Earl Stevens was definitely the first dude to come to mind. He’s literally been bringing it since the late ’80s! So in each of the last four decades, he’s been droppin dope records—crazy! And he’s STILL relevant. He still gets airplay and can still kill shit. I can’t think of anyone who even comes close to his staying power. He runs shit up here in the Bay Area. And he actually has his own 40s at the liquor store! His OWN 40s!!! What???
E-40, “Choices (Yup)” 
Sean Price first came out in the mid ’90s as half of Heltah Skeltah. Dude was nice and his crew definitely got some love at a time when there was still a lotta quality shit coming out. Instead of fading out like a lot of rappers did, he stayed with it and had a bunch of solid solo records right up until his tragic and untimely death last year. He was 43 and sounded as dope as ever. He had so much personality and it really came through in his rhymes. He was clever and hilarious and still kept that rugged feel. His shit sounded honest like he was really being himself when he spit, which is rare. Shit, I’m bummed out now. R.I.P.
Sean Price, “Bar-Barian” 
Suga Free is a real-life pimp from Pomona, California. A lot of rappers talk that pimp shit, but in reality, it’s just for entertainment. You can tell off top that Suga Free’s not acting though. His style is like conversation. He’s got actual game and it makes his flow sound effortless. He came out with DJ Quik on production which was the perfect match for that crushed velvet sound. He’s been puttin it down since the ’90s and he’s still comin with it and still sounds good. Even in his 20s, he sounded like an old street pimp which is probably why now that he’s in his 40s, he sounds so unforced. Why accept cheap imitations when u can get the realness?
Suga Free & Pimpin Young, “Wish a Mutha Fucka Would” (feat. Moosei)” 
Eric Steuer’s Top 3 Older Rappers
De La Soul is one of my favorite groups ever, and it’s really hard for me to pick between Posdnuos and Dave—both are incredible lyricists and rappers. But I gotta give it to Pos because he always comes with lines that kick around in my head years later and make me think about their meaning. I’ve been listening to these guys since they dropped their first 12inch, and I still get amped when they put out new music. They’re still strange, poetic, and funny. I remember hearing an interview with De La way back when I was a kid, and Pos said something I’ll never forget: “You could make music that sounded a million different ways, so why would you make music that sounds like what everyone else is making?”
De La Soul, “Pain” (feat. Snoop Dogg) 
Even though Redman has always had a lot of fans, I’ve always thought of him as being a pretty underrated rapper. Especially in terms of how much personality and humor he always brings to his music. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how much he helped set the stage for “underground” hip-hop that is also funny and cool, and not super nerdy, too serious, or straight-up inaccessible. Plus he’s just a great no-frills rapper who makes dope record after dope record. And he’s been doing it for 25 years. You gotta respect that.
Redman, “Somebody Got Robbed” (feat. Mr. Yellow) 
DOOM is the rare rapper who actually got way, way better as he got older. I liked his stuff even way back in the day when he was doing it with KMD and on 3rd Bass’ “The Gas Face.” And if you listen now to that early music he did, it still holds up well, but it’s definitely part of a “golden age” sound that is very specific to a particular time and place. But the stuff he started doing in his next phase, after life had beaten him up a bit and he’d become a grizzled old timer—that shit is totally unique and changed the game. It sounds timeless to me. I think if a younger dude would have come out first doing DOOM’s style, it just wouldn’t have worked. It had to be coming from an older guy who had seen enough bad shit to make him turn weird. Years later, I never miss checking out a new DOOM verse or beat—he always delivers.
Flying Lotus, “Masquatch” (feat. DOOM)