On Tuesday, TMZ reported the results of the autopsy done on legendary rapper Heavy D. Only a short time before his death I sat with my kids watching him on the BET Awards. I told my son how important he was to hip-hop. My wife told my daughter how much we used to dance to his music “back in the day.” Not long after, he passed. Our whole household was confused. “He was just on TV, though,” my son said. Indeed he was.
Heavy D died from a pulmonary embolism caused by deep leg vein thrombosis … and a long flight back to L.A. from a Michael Jackson memorial concert may have been a contributing factor. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of one or more arteries in the lungs — most often caused by blood clots which travel into the lungs from other parts of the body. In Heavy’s case, the clot was formed in his legs. Officials from the L.A. County Coroner’s Office say Heavy also suffered from heart disease, which could have been a contributing factor in his death.
The truth is, deep leg vein thrombosis can happen to anyone who sits too long. If he was on a long plane ride, it’s easy to see how it happened. A friend of mine who is a journalist was recently diagnosed with the same issue from writing at his desk for extended hours. I write from a large exercise ball as much as I can to cut my chances of suffering the same fate.
If you listen to Hip-Hop and assess what people inside the rap community are eating, you get a lot of food that sounds good, but is not good for you. In the early days of Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, they rapped about 40 ounces, White Castle, and frank and beans. Fast forward a bit and Ludacris puts out albums with titles like “Chicken and Beer.” Ice Cube, Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, Diddy, and a lot of other rappers pushed various alcohol brands from St. Ides to Ciroc. We also cannot forget that Busta Rhymes almost single-handedly rebuilt the cognac industry in France with one rap song. It is hard to deny that hip-hop living can be hard on rappers’ bodies.
And if we look beyond Heavy D, we can see that hip-hop has had some seriously close calls. Nate Dogg and Patrice O’Neal died of strokes at a very young ages. Rick Ross, who was recently in the hospital due to seizures, is clearly obese and in need of a lifestyle change. In addition we saw pioneer rapper Erik Sermon from EPMD suffer a heart attack. People forget that Latino rapper Big Pun passed away from complications due to his unhealthy eating habits. It is hard to deny that folks from the hip-hop generation are in a state of emergency in regards to their health.
If we think realistically about how a diet of the above will affect you over the long term, we see why so many rappers are getting sick and dying. It is a very sad but harsh reality. At the same time, no one can deny how various pockets of hip-hop promoted good living over the years. KRS One, Public Enemy, Kam, and Monie Luv all made songs that promoted good diets. A lot of early rap promoted the dietary regimen of the Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. They spoke to the importance of eating more vegetables, less alcohol, and pork, but over the years, a lot of the healthy related raps were pushed to the back of the bus.
I wanted to get some clarity on the hip-hop and health, so I called Dr. Peter Goldman, a doctor to many of the top MMA fighters and coaches you see in the Ultimate Fighting Championships including BJ Penn and Jake Shields. Dr. Goldman is also from the hip-hop generation and was raised in Brooklyn. I asked him what he thought about how so many adults from that generation got to this state.
First of all, we have to consider how these habits and choices get formed. Some of the main sources of influence on the Hip-Hop generation are their parents, society in general, and Hip-Hop artists and their lyrics. The experiences with their parents in regards to how their parents demonstrate they should eat and live will obviously vary. Society in general sends many mixed messages on these topics. For the most part, with some exceptions, Hip-Hop lyrics do not encourage a particularly healthy lifestyle or healthy eating habits. So the result for the most part are listeners whose main sources of influence do not indicate that it is even desirable to be healthy and eat right, let alone tell them how to do it.
For those of us in their 30s and 40s, the time is now. But how do we begin?
By understanding that there are many components to being healthy. For example, eating right, exercising right, resting right, keeping the body balanced with some type of body work like chiropractic or massage, and of course addressing the mental and Spiritual components of health. In regards to diet a good start is including a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet, drinking plenty of healthy water, avoiding deep fried foods and artificial sweeteners and coloring. As far as exercise goes, it can be yoga, martial arts, walking, swimming, etc, just try to move your body every day. As for rest, make sure to sleep enough, and also make sure to rest the body and the mind when necessary.
Another big part of the equation is what concepts about themselves, their body, and health in general they hold in their subconscious mind. These concepts are mostly implanted there from birth to about 7 years of age and tend to manifest in one’s life in all regards including their health.
Recently, though, some rappers have made many strides to change. 50 Cent has always made health a priority. Fat Joe cut weight after Pun passed away. David Banner went from looking like one of the Fat Boys to looking like a UFC fighter. Even the Fat Boys Kool Rock Ski and Prince Markie Dee both lost weight after the Human Beat Box passed from a heart attack. Not long ago Diddy ran a marathon for charity. Rapper Rakaa Iriscience from Dilated Peoples has been practicing Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Rapper Tajai from Hieroglypics posts about great veggie dishes and restaurants on his Facebook page. Stic Man from Dead Prez dropped a mixtape dedicated exclusively to healthy living. From front to back it discusses the proper diet, mind state and diet tips people need to live better. He even has a Facebook page dedicated to it called “RBG Fit Club.”
Rapper T-KASH is currently preparing to participate in the Oakland Running Marathon in March for charity 2012 (he completed a half marathon last year). The political rapper who recently toured Europe with Paris lost almost 100 pounds over the last two and a half years. When asked how the weight loss has changed him he said:
You don’t anticipate any health related issues as much. You are aware that you are susceptible to getting any type of disease eventually. But to know that I’ve decelerated that, is calming. When I was big, I always worried.’ What if I get this? What if I get that?’ Alot of that has gone away.
Let us hope it goes away for all of us, one day at a time. Stay healthy y’all.
1. Rickey Smiley & Listeners On The Beach In Punta Cana
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2. Juicy was that the uncle luke show
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3. At my show at Coco Bongo in the Dominican Republic Punta Cana with Ricky
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4. Everyone was at the @realrickeysmiley Uncle Luke Sold out Party in the DR
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5. Everyone was at the Uncle Luke Party in the DR with the @realrickeysmiley weekend
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6. Got some Viking coaches over here in Punta Cana
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7. This just in the theme to my party tonight at the @realrickeysmiley weekend is were what you dare. This is going to be interesting
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8. I have been all over Dominican Republic this is the best hotel in the country five star service
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9. Chicago in the house in the DR
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11. At Club juice in the Dominican Republic for the Rickey smiley weekend.
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12. Reading the final proof of my memoirs here in Punta Cana to be release August 4 in a bookstore near you. Make sure you pre-order now we need to make this book one of the first Southern hip hop books to be on the best seller.
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13. Tonight I had a blast at the Rickey Smiley weekend 90's party here in Dominican Republic
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14. I made it baby I'm here Punta Cana with my man @Rickeysmiley all the chemicals are ready
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15. We made it to the DR
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16. Last night here...
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17. @realrickeysmiley great event!!! #PuntaCana
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18. Last night in #PuntaCana and I must say I had a really good time and met lots of awesome people from all across America. Tag me if we took a picture! Thanks! 💋💋💋
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19. Last evening in #PuntaCana body suit by someone-shoes by Vince Camuto < so comfortable 😎👍🏾
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20. I'm always happy in the tropics! This was a great trip 😉😉 #PuntaCana
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21. My immediate future..... #Happy #blessed #LuckiestGirl #GratefulForEverything
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22. @garywdtea and CJ
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23. Bout to check out this comedy show @realrickeysmiley and @specialk913 performing! Can't wait to see my boys rip it! PuntaCana
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24. I'll be here all day....#PuntaCana
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25. Yesterday with my girl @msjuicyrsms
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26. Current situation.... I'm kinda happy right About now! 😎😎😎😎😎
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27. #repost from @rozay_janae #PuntaCana
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28. After hours spot for some late night food. I swear I'm not this skinny but this angle tho. The beef empanadas were everything! #connection
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29. @sosobrat and me this morning. Love her personality! She rocked it!
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30. Last night was all that! #CongoBongo #PuntaCana
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31. Me and DA Bruhs#punta canta
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32. Rickey Smiley
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33. Rickey Smiley
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34. EVIDENCE! Gary's @garywdtea epic Stick legs right before he FELL and busted his BUTT... His scraped up heel is the evidence. Lol.
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35. In #PuntaCana with the family @headkrack @garywdtea @specialk913 @sosobrat @porsha4real #RSMS #DishNation
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36. Live from #PuntaCana with @sosobrat We all the way TURNT UP
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37. ROCK-T & DJ DRAMA rockin the Dominican Republic. LOOK OUT! Light Skinned homies coming back in style. Lol. @DjDrama
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39. Memo to white dudes. It's NEVER cool or acceptable. Why do y'all keep doing this to my eyes
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40. The face you make when they have wings in the club but you just don't know if that's the move.
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41. Roof party Punta Canta
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42. Early morning broadcast. Peoples been here since 5am #StraightFromTheClub #PuntaCana
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43. Not many cooler than my sis @sosoBrat #PuntaCana (Humidity about to kick in)
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44. The airport
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45. You can spot the ninjas who are experiencing first class for the very first time in their life. Everyone congratulate @specialk913 he finally "made" it!!! 😂😂😂😂😂
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46. With my partner in crime in Punta Cana @garywdtea at the rooftop day party
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47. With my boys/co-hosts @rocktholla and @headkrack #RoofTopDayParty #PuntaCana
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48. Last night was all that! #CongoBongo #PuntaCana
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49. Breaking news! @garywdtea has been kicked out the sorority!
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50. @sosobrat and me this morning. Love her personality! She rocked it!
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51. Rickey Smiley
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52. That's right we in da house strong #Repost @beyonceatl・・・The crew is here #rickeysmiley #puntacana @headkrack @jahlionsound @msjuicyrsms @prettygeekz @rocktholla
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53. Hotel lobby in Punta Canta
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54. Aint nothing like ALLLLLLLLLL INCLUSIVE!!!! at the bar........ #rickeysmileycaribbeangetaway2015 #rickeysmiley #puntacana
56. Gary with the tea said this was the best picture in the house 😁 I think so too 😎#ipleadthe5th #rickeysmiley #teamnokids #puntacana2015 #puntacana
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57. It's so Beautiful here... #Bacherlorette get away... #ipleadthe5th... #rickeysmiley... #Vacation... #PuntaCana 💃💃💃
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58. Breakfast at Caribe wit @msjuicyrsms!!!!! #rickeysmileycaribbeangetaway2015
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59. I'm here yall Punta Cana #SquareInstaPic
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60. Wake Uuuuuuuuuuuppppppppp Looking out my window this is what I see PUNTA CANA BABY! !!! #SquareInstaPic @studio8apps
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61. Headed down now to get my workout on
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62. The Guru of Abs I'm tired ass hell #SquareInstaPic
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63. We worked out on the beach with The Guru of Abs JUST BEAUTIFUL #SquareInstaPic
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64. Day z party on The Roof Top. #SquareInstaPic
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65. #SquareInstaPic punta Cana
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66. #SquareInstaPic Special K and I clowning at the Day Party
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67. #Repost @jahlionsound・・・Me & @DjDrama last night before destroying club #Arijetos #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic w/ @Krunkmaster & the entire @RickeySmileyMorningShowTonight I'm live at club Jewel5/22 - Barcelo Convention Center (Dominican Republic)5/22 - Arijetos Night Club (Dominican Republic)5/24 - Sunset Cruise (Dominican Republic)5/24 - Club CocoBongo (Dominican Republic)#WeFloodTheStreets#HardestWorkingDjYouKnow
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68. #SquareInstaPic Day Party Pics.
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70. Rickey Smiley
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71. Rickey Smiley
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74. Rock-T, Special K, Juicy and Headkrack
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81. Rickey Smiley
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Continue reading A State Of Emergency: Heavy D, Hip-Hop And Healthy Living