When Will Hip Hop Have Its Own Healthcare Reform?
Patrice O'Neal, Rick Ross and Erick Sermon are all cases for more health examinations
Sirius XM radio show comedian Patrice O'Neal died this week after a battle with diabetes. He reportedly suffered a stroke a month ago that destabilized both his speech and movement before he ultimately succumbed to death. The details of rapper Heavy D.’s death still aren’t completely known, but the passing of the self-proclaimed “Overweight Lover” rang yet another siren for graying Hip Hop heads to adopt healthy lifestyles and demand regular healthcare.
In other health-related Hip Hop news, rapper and producer Erick Sermon is recovering from a heart attack, and the newest member of the overweight-lover club, Rick Ross, suffered two seizures last month. Rappers these days are sick -- in a bad way. The recent trend of heart attacks and seizures are bringing new meaning to “illmatic.” So, who will step up to battle the stigma associated with going to a physician?
Peace and love to Heavy D. who reportedly lost 150 pounds before his death. And much respect to Fat Joe who lost 100 pounds and is now encouraging others to reconsider "fat," by any spelling. Yet, how many rappers do you see trying to cover their obesity with swag? Oversized clothing isn’t just about style. Your once favorite hyper-masculine, jailhouse-strong rapper now has more boobs than Dolly Parton.
There’s not enough material to cover black men’s unhealthy lifestyles, which includes too much saturated fats, sugar, alcohol and smoke. Aside from the “take your shirt off” rappers like L.L. Cool J, Hip Hop artists are in need of trainers, an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and dieticians. KRS-ONE once called for the recording industry to supply health insurance for rappers, and while that's needed, it's not enough. If rappers can glorify fattening their pockets, then they can also glorify de-fattening their waists and bellies.
Some black men seem incapable of sharing the lexicon for life longevity. Hip-hop talks more death than a morgue. It speaks in gory details about murderers and their victims, but diabetes killed more black folks than any gangster -- pour a little liquor for O'Neal and all of diabetes' victims.
The health statistics on black men, generated by the U.S. Office of Minority Heath are staggering:
- African American men were 1.3 times as likely to have new cases of lung and prostate cancer, compared to non-Hispanic white men.
- African American men were 2.1 times as likely to start treatment for end-stage renal disease related to diabetes, compared to non-Hispanic white men.
- African American men were 30% more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
- African American males had more than 7 times the AIDS rate of non-Hispanic white males.
Hip-hop’s body of work mirrors the black male physique. The only thing lean about the music is its content, which is rife with fat beats, unnecessary stress, gluttony and misogyny, all of which lead to diabetes, heart failure and HIV. There are elements of the culture that are literally killing us.
For instance, hip-hop’s homophobic tendencies do not encourage prostrate examinations -- which require the doctor to place fingers in the male patient's anus -- which is the mountain that at-risk men won’t climb to get a basic physical. Damon Wayans' took a stab and making this a comedic subject on his sitcom, but prostate cancer -- as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan will tell you -- is no laughing matter.
Many of your favorite rappers are now 40-plus years old. Consequently, Snoop, Jay-Z, and Master P. need their prostates examined regularly. All 40-year-olds should get a physical to specifically check their vitals (blood pressure, weight) as well as conduct a blood test, heart assessment and prostate examination. Who will model this behavior?
The legendary DJ Kool Herc and other notable artists trumpeted healthcare reform during Obama’s push for the landmark legislation, but we need people who will keep it real with living and dying.
Dr. Dre is not a real physician. He can't Detox you. The Hip Hop generation needs to see real physicians. Honor Heavy D. and O'Neal by going to visit your doctor or community health clinic asap.