Music

Rappers Are Really Bad At Retiring

Logic is back — and we never even had a chance to miss him. Just a year removed from the declaration of his retirement, the Maryland rapper turned video game streamer (technically) bounced back last week with the release of his return mixtape, Bobby Tarantino III. Though technically, he did work out some of his itches to rhyme earlier this year with Planetory Destruction, the thinly-disguised, Kool Keith-like endeavor he dropped as Doctor Destruction, and the YS Collection Vol. 1, a collection of older songs cut from the Young Sinatra mixtape series that he was able to clear after a decade.

And look, we understand. When you have a long-lasting love for a thing that has been your whole life — literally, your job, your hobby, and your semi-living arrangement — for over a decade, it’s hard to let go. Logic is hardly the first rapper to have gone through separation anxiety upon realizing that retirement would upend his entire way of being. It was Jay-Z who first coined the bar, “Can’t leave rap alone, the game needs me,” nearly 20 years ago on “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” from his career-defining album The Blueprint. Yet, just two albums later, Jay had decided to gracefully bow out with The Black Album, only to return two years later with Kingdom Come.

Rappers, it seems, have a hard time committing to retirement in general. While they love to announce that they’re stepping away from the hustle of the rap game and hanging up their mics for good, they’re rarely able to stay on the wagon for very long. Here’s a short list of the rappers who have retired only to unretire shortly thereafter when they realized that while the game may not actually need them, they most certainly need the game.

The Game

The Compton rapper said he was done with the rap game with his 2019 album Born 2 Rap (a threat he’d already made once before), but it looks like he may have taken the title pretty literally. His manager Wack 100 recently told AllHipHop that Game’s been back in the studio working on a new album titled 30 For 30. He also dropped the single “A.I. With The Braids” in November of 2020, implying more material on the way, which would bring his total collection of projects to 30, including studio albums, mixtapes, compilations, and independent releases.

Jay-Z

The most infamous rap retiree on the list, Jay-Z famously delivered his swan song, The Black Album, in 2004, accompanying the farewell project with a massive show at Madison Square Garden, a documentary titled Fade To Black recording the creation of the album, and a press tour that saw him collecting his flowers ahead of his final curtain. However, it didn’t take long for him to feel the hunger again. After remixing a number of his songs for the Linkin Park mashup album Collision Course, Jay began popping up on other artists’ songs to find his sea legs before dropping the uneven (but still criminally underrated) Kingdom Come, garnering plenty of both fanfare and criticism, as the brevity of his retirement made it seem more like a gimmick to sell records.

Nicki Minaj

Midway through 2019, Nicki decided that she was finished with the rap game, deciding to trade in her lucrative career for the family life, despite a number of recent examples of women in music who have apparently been able to do both, such as Beyonce and Teyana Taylor. However, it took her all of a day to begin backtracking, posting on social media that she was “still right here” before making her unofficial return in February 2020 with “Yikes.” Although that song didn’t make much of a splash, she renewed her cultural ubiquity with appearances on Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Tekashi 69’s “Trollz,” and recently began teasing a new album after re-releasing her breakout mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty to DSPs for the first time.

Young Dolph

March 2020 was an eventful month for the Memphis mogul, who recanted just 15 days after making his initial retirement announcement by teasing the upcoming release of his album Rich Slave. Then, he followed up the release of his joint project with protege Key Glock, Dum And Dummer 2, with another retirement in March of this year before coming out and admitting straight up in a July interview that he can’t commit to it. “I can’t do it, real talk,” he said. “I’m the spokesperson for all of the street n****s.” His most recent release wound up dropping the same day as Logic’s own comeback, with the Paper Route Empire compilation album Paper Route Illuminati.

Meanwhile, even more rappers, from Denzel Curry to NLE Choppa to T.I., have announced their own intentions to walk away from the rap game after releasing a few more projects. T.I. is said to be working on Kill The King, his final album, while Denzel Curry said that he had three more releases planned before punching the clock for good. NLE Choppa wants to switch to selling natural health products, Chika and Noname are over the poor treatment they feel they’ve received at the hands of the industry, and even DaBaby gave himself a five-year limit — although recent events may have forced him to unwillingly accelerate those plans.

Time will tell whether any of those names manage to stick to it, or transition into other outlets for their creative faculties. But as long as rappers’ retirement announcements make headlines, it seems that they’ll keep making announcements — even if they can only stay retired for a few months at a time.

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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