“The biggest killer of people is food. It kills more people than AIDS, than gun violence, than war, and anything you can name. Everybody keeps catching strokes and heart attacks.” – Fat Joe
Recently, Fat Joe revealed that he lost 88 pounds in an effort to regain control over his health. As hip-hop greats, such as Biggie, Pun, and Missy Elliott, have struggled with weight, it’s unfortunate that health has not become an integral part of hip-hop discourse. When the lyrics are spat and done, who wants to lose a great MC over a preventable death? Hip-hop is bigger than a platinum record. And its influence ought to transcend music into health and fitness.
In a recent World Star Hip Hop video, Fat Joe recounts losing seven friends to heart attacks in the last year. All of them were thirty-something years old. Not to mention, Big Pun died in his late twenties to a heart attack, weighing over 700 pounds. It may have taken a decade, but Fat Joe says his fame won’t save him. Obesity kills any and everyone that falls victim to a food addiction or genetic predisposition. And next to experiencing it, nothing is more painful than watching a loved one eat their way to death.
I have a numerous family members that struggle with food addictions. Some acknowledge it, some pretend as if it’s not an addiction. Regardless, all have obesity-related health struggles, but it’s difficult to reprimand your elders for eating something you know they shouldn’t. Not to mention, it’s disappointing to see the same insouciance in a music genre that you love unconditionally.
For years, hip-hop has gone unchecked for repositioning (male) obesity as a tool for bravado. I certainly don’t advocate skinniness as perfection, but it’s unacceptable for fat to be cool. It fails to instill the best health values in our community and reinforces a sense of nonchalance toward nutrition and fitness. Paraphrasing Fat Joe, it’d be one thing if weighing 1000 pounds didn’t come with severe health consequences. But we have to take a realistic approach and I’m excited to see Fat Joe stepping up to the plate.
In the video, he says, “Cut back on the carbs and work out. Don’t go up in KFC. Don’t go up in McDonald’s. Don’t go up in Burger King. Don’t go up in none of that stuff…That way you can be around for your family.” Simple advice, but perhaps it may reach someone that doesn’t hear it very often. He also encourages young people to tell their local corner stores that they want more healthy options. While impoverished communities are breeding grounds for food deserts, we do have purchasing power and it’s about time that we use it.
I hope Fat Joe continues preaching health and fitness to his fan base. We certainly could use more health advocacy in hip-hop.
How do you feel about hip-hop as a driving force for health consciousness? Speak on it.