* stands in front of TelePrompter, adjusts DRI-FIT tie, takes a breath and, in best Kanye voice, tells the world:
” HIP HOP DOESN’T CARE ABOUT HEALTHY PEOPLE *
They called him Big Meech, Larry Hoover…but then Rick Ross lost 100 pounds and Twitter came to drag his (now significantly lighter) ass. Interestingly, the majority of those hateful comments came from African Americans, despite the fact that we are statistically more likely to die from strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, and even cancer.
With those stats in mind, you would think they would be more inclined to support his weight loss.
But as you know, we can’t have nice things.
So instead, people used their 140-character limit to say that Ross looked better fat, he must be sick or he lost too much weight. While all opinions are allowed where do we draw the line between what we want as fans and what’s best for that human who is the object of our creepy affections ?
We have become desensitized to the bigger picture. Folks really think Ross should have remained over 300lb. They probably also thought that Big Pun was doing just fine. We loved his music. We loved his life. We cried tears of joy for the significant impact he had on hip hop music but we never stopped to analyze the situation. And 14 years ago, Big Pun died on our watch–as have countless other bright stars in the hip hop community.
“There seems to be no health conscience regimens in Hip Hop with all the drugs and alcohol circulating. Look at all these guys out here with the Al Bundy guts. Generally in America, obesity is an ongoing issue. You have guys who had successful projects such as Biggie and Pun—they were very talented artists but did not discipline themselves enough physically—so they had to pick up the slack in other areas.”
Hip Hop is a demanding mistress. Many of us live vicariously through our favorite artists. We WANT to see him or her ‘On 1.’ We want to see their lives of ‘Excess Everything.’ And so, that’s what our favorite artists serve up. They, in turn, teaches us how to beat down our bodies by drinking all night, smoking all day and eating whatever you want because that’s apparently what you do when you have tons of money and time; you go do hoodrat shit with your friends. Everything in hip hop is a celebration. We’re so busy putting our drinks up that we’ve lost sight of health and fitness. At this party, nobody cares what your body fat percentage is; just pour more liquor in a bottomless cup. The thing about going to parties is that if you wake up damn near dead…I think you might be doing it wrong.
“Heavy D, Big Pun, Notorious B.I.G.—they all have one thing in common: it’s a marketing thing. It’s not a coincidence. It’s easy to market a fat person in America. Once shit became a business, it really messed up the whole culture. It messed up the realness of what Hip Hop meant”
Although many of our artists are steering us in an unhealthy direction, we’ve got a few that are working to empower the culture in terms of health and fitness. 50 Cent’s contribution to Vitamin Water and Lil Cease’s YouTube vlogs on workouts and nutrition come to mind. But that’s two artists out of thousands. Plus, who is really talking about them; they aren’t getting the headlines they deserve. And I guess I get it; that kind of thing doesn’t really go with current hip hop culture. Plus, ‘coconut water’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Courvoirsier,’ does it? I know I will probably never hear my favorite rapper drop a verse about the benefits of whey and vegan proteins, but is it too big of an ask that they take health and fitness as seriously as it takes liquor and drugs? Of course, that’s no fun. And apparently ‘fun’ is the point, right?
The thing is, we, the hip hop consumer have a collective voice. And we can change the conversation if we want to. As a fan of most hip hop websites, I’ve noticed that most don’t have health and fitness section and judging by the radio silence I receive when I ask them about that, most don’t want one. It’s a pretty fatalistic marketing scheme, though; if you keep telling me about Diddy’s Ciroc, but not his attempt to re-launch of “Aqua Hydrate,” and you keep me up to date on how high Wiz Kalifa got today, but won’t give me the address to Style P’s juice bar, eventually, I’m not going to be here to come to your website, because I died from the stories I read on it.
Essentially, Hip hop doesn’t care about healthy people, teaches us that unhealthy is what ‘happy’ looks like, so people don’t care about rapper’s health. This deadly cycle is going to have to break somewhere. Maybe it’s when hip hop’s tastemakers artists start publicly thinking about their health, or when Jay-Z doing a vegan diet isn’t a punch line to a joke. Maybe it’s when we decide that we love our favorite artist too much to have to play his music at his untimely funeral, so we support his healthy choices. It’s not clear. But at some point, the party has to end. Here’s hoping we leave because we wanted to and not because we had to.