Joy France spent her childhood walking to school with her hands over her eyes. She believed that way she could go totally unnoticed. Today, at 66, she’s likely the oldest battle rapper in the world. In her words, she has become the exact opposite of what she was. She might not be a centenarian yet, but she’s living proof that it’s never too late and you’re never too old – to do anything. Clearly, she’s more than making up for lost time.
In case you aren’t up on such things, battle rap is a type of rapping performed between two or more performers who insult each other and make boasts. It is often freestyle in front of an audience, and Joy participates in one of the UK’s biggest battle rap leagues, known as Don’t Flop.
Try New Things
Joy started down this road at the age of 60 when she had vowed on her 60th birthday to try 60 new things that year. Her debut was captured on film by Northern Heart Films as a short documentary. The events she participates in have never been scaled back in any way to accommodate her.
In fact, before her very first battle, Joy recounts being terrified. She contacted her opponent ahead of time to ask him to treat her like any other contestant. He and every opponent since have obliged.
Over time, Joy has come to love the variety of people, even to find the community welcoming, despite the fact that it is mainly a world for young men. However, this retired primary school teacher says that “there’s nothing going to make me cringe or cower.” In fact, she’s made friends, “lovely, unusual friendships.”
Today Joy not only continues to battle rap, but she shares her experience with others. If you’re in Edinburgh, and interested in learning about “one woman’s attempt to embrace retirement unconventionally,” check out her show.
Joy is quick to say that she’s at a point in her life where she’s past keeping herself from doing the things she wants to do. She’s embracing life and going with whatever happens. She’s enjoying herself and hopes that she is making the world a better place by interacting with people.
By all accounts, Joy is living her life at 100%, perhaps for the first time. She’s found herself, her voice, and her passion. And she’s sharing it with others. In a place she would never have considered, she found her tribe. And next year, she’s hitting the road to battle rap in New York.
If you have dreams of making up for lost time or embracing retirement unconventionally, Joy might be the inspiration you’ve been looking for. Find the rest of her amazing story here.