Rap moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and listen once in a while, you could forget that Puff Daddy used to be a rapper who actually did raps and stuff. Cultural references in rap, like in movies, can quickly date a song; a bit like featuring Puff Daddy as a viable rapper on your song (Seriously! Things like that used to happen!)
Here are some unintentionally quaint examples:
“Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ When I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this” -Notorious BIG, “Juicy” (1994)
Notorious BIG, or Biggie Smalls as he was sometimes referred to by his mother and/or the guy from Domino's Pizza, often rapped about things which now seem arcane: Super Nintendo was a games console by Nintendo - the creator of GameCube and anagram of “indent on” - whereas Sega Genesis was famous for being the first games console mentioned in the bible (or something). Hope that clears things up for younger listeners.
“In the woodwork, crack sales bubble like Woolworth’s/ In the projects, richest niggas rocking all the real worth” -Raekwon da Chef, “Verbal Intercourse” (1995)
1995 was a simpler time: Lance Armstrong was winning things, Space Jam was about to come out, that fella from Manic Street Preachers disappeared, OJ found not guilty, Lance Armstrong was doing drugs… Uh, basically what I’m trying to say is: “Hey, remember when Woolworth’s was a thing?” Wu-Tang Clan's Rae implying that his narcotic sales are so high that they rival Woolworth’s, a company now in near solvency, kinda devalues his status as a drug kingpin. Or maybe he did that intentionally to stop him mother - Mrs. da Chef - finding out.
“Fucking with me ‘cos I’m a teenager/ With a little bit of gold and a pager” -Ice Cube, “Fuck Tha Police” (1988)
You know it’s funny really: Ice Cube used to be your mother’s worst nightmare (and I don’t mean her reoccurring nightmare about her collapsed Pavlova). He was “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” (a clever play on the word “America” and the racist organisation the KKK, which subtly implies that America is “fucking racist as fuck”) but this lyric comes from when he was in a rap boy-band NWA - an initialism which I am reliably informed stands for “North-West Acton”, which strikes me as strange. Ice Cube is now a fat middle-aged dude from the popular “Black Dude, When Are We Getting There?” film series and no longer a teenager; also, the boast that you’re wearing “gold” and a “pager” is moot - “gold” has connotations of Jeremy Kyle and a “pager” is a thing that I have no idea what it is, but I’ll ask my parents.
“Man, living at home is such a drag/ Now your mom threw away your best porno mag” -Beastie Boys, “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” (1987)
The problems with this lyric are plethoraful (starting with the fact that I just made up that word): The Beastie Boys, heralded purveyors of b-ball shit-talking and beautifully low-fi music videos, are undoubtably legendary but even trying to fathom how weird it would be to purchase a pornographic magazine in a shop now is impossible. He'd look at you like you were the worst kind of pervert. Pay for a subscription to something hardcore and borderline offence online and you're fine: whatever, you're in your house, looking at a screen – but take your proclivity to print and you might as well be breaking into his house at midnight to kidnap his family.
“Sipping Remy on the rocks/ My crew something to watch” -Jay-Z, “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (1996)
I’m not sure that Jay, a bastion of taste and referred to by some as “the black Joaquin Phoenix”, would make such a boast now; he was young and reckless in 1996 when “Reasonable Doubt” was released (wearing double denim, doo-rags and referencing the CLASSIC Depp/Brando movie “Don Juan DeMarco”) but in retrospect he must be spinning in his six-hundred thread-count sheets, thinking about how he BRAGGED about sipping Remy Martin WITH ICE. So uncouth a faux pas, Jay-Z may as well have rapped about how Jimmy Savile was always a role model to him or how he didn’t know the difference between a salad fork and a bloody dessert fork.