WILL NATE DOGG'S PASSING RAISE MORE HIP HOP HEALTH AWARENESS?
With the passing of 41-year old famed G-Funk crooner Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale due to complications from multiple strokes, raising the awareness on strokes and overall good health has become pivotal as the condition is increasingly happening to younger and relatively healthy people more often.
In the hip hop community, where a good number of signed artists are not covered by medical insurance, the focus on receiving adequate health care has to be renewed. While the Internet Stroke Center states that “Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65," accounting for the other quarter has become an arduous task.
Stroke risk is high in individuals within the African-American community and, frankly, that is the dominant demographic in today’s hip hop scene. According to American Heart Assoc., stroke risks increases exponentially in African-Americans as they grow older. But like many other debilitating conditions, stroke risk can be limited via diet, exercise, and cutting out habits such as smoking. The question remains then, is the hip hop lifestyle of long tours, fast food, excessive partying and little rest and late nights contributing to a slow demise amongst artists?
When rapper Christopher “Big Pun” Rios died at 28 years of age in 2000 as a result of a heart attack, many weren’t shocked at the robust MC’s death. The gifted lyricist was severely overweight but self aware enough to know that his lifestyle was killing him slowly and he was said to be making strides to revert his fate. Sadly for Pun and his family, that day never came.
Darren “Buffy The Human Beat Box” Robinson suffered a heart attack as well in 1995, ballooning up to 450 pounds by the time of his death. Like Rios, Robinson was attempting to get healthier but it was far too late.
Gravediggaz MC Anthony “Poetic” Berkeley succumbed to colon cancer at age 35 but not before forming a nonprofit organization dedicated to help him with his medical bills.
The hip hop community won’t soon forget the plight of legendary DJ and founder of the culture DJ Kool Herc and the harsh reality Herc faced of not being able to pay his medical bills. And although efforts from people like Wendy Day of the Hip Hop Coaltion who work to help rap artists gain health coverage among other rights, there is still the looming specter of potential poor health and even death for the young men and women within the hip hop community.
Perhaps underground rap legend Masta Ace summed it up best in a series of recent tweets today. “#raplife Heavy Alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of sleep, physical exertion. Doing that nonstop for 15-20 years will shorten your life,” said Ace. He added, “MANY of my friends in hip hop still live the #raplife into their 40s. I'm not judging I'm just gon take care of me. We need to wake up tho!”