You often hear artists say that music is a 'lifestyle,' but what happens once the spotlight fades — or if a musician never blew up in the first place? We were just put on to a 2015 doc called Adult Rappers made by Paul Iannacchino Jr., that chronicles the perspectives and lives of about 30 rappers from the U.S. and Canada who have achieved varying levels of success, and are now finding new and different ways to get by as "adults" with different sets of responsibilities. There are some familiar names and faces amongst the interviewees: J-Zone, Dilated Peoples's Evidence, Bobbito Garcia, Despot, Don Will, Esoteric, Eternia, Slug, A Tribe Called Quest's Jarobi, Masta Ace, and Murs.
The film starts out with a pretty gut-wrenching montage of artists sharing how they discuss their livelihoods in casual conversation: for many, it involves being entirely evasive about their past (or current) rap lives. Adult Rappers covers a lot of difficult terrain. "I think the biggest misconception about it, at least from people I know, is that they think how good they are is gonna determine how far they go. And how hard they work is going to determine how far they go," says J-Zone, wryly. The entertainment industry tends to favor the young and new, so it might be easy to dismiss Adult Rappers as a documentary about people who have largely faded from the spotlight. But given that it's easier than ever for struggling artists to get a taste of the fame, only to be pushed out due to shifting musical tastes or sociopolitical circumstance, Adult Rappers feels like a must-watch for music fans who want to understand what rap looks like when it's a forever thing.