As hip hop culture approaches its 50th birthday, the rap genre has introduced some of the most influential wellness entrepreneurs the world has ever seen. From the MCs who make global ticketholders dance at concerts to the cannabis-producing billionaires educating communities on the medicinal properties of a once-criminalized substance, fans resultantly have access to information on how self-care can take many forms. And the growing consensus on health consciousness is invigorating movements led by and produced for minoritized populations.
Rapper and Farmacy For Life owner Styles P, Grammy-nominated artist and co-owner of Broadway Boxing Gym D Smoke, and Nike running coach and co-founder of Fit For Us Percell Dugger connected at Soho Works DUMBO for the inaugural Hip-Hop Health: The 50-Year Check Up series event. REVOLT columnist and Men’s Health Senior Editor Keith Nelson Jr. moderated the panel with the moguls and learned how they promote healthier lifestyles.
“Next year marks 50 years since DJ Kool Herc was in the boogie-down Bronx at 1520 Sedgwick [Avenue] and had the Back To School Jam for his sister. And [rap] turned into the biggest genre of music. We have people that are doing so much in the health space, and it came from one party,” Nelson Jr. explained. Together, Styles P, D Smoke and Dugger added to this collective perspective. Learn about these moguls’ discoveries in their words.
1. Proximity to resources affects your relationship with food.
Styles P: I have a South African mom… If you come from an urban neighborhood in New York City… there is [ordinarily] no one in the household teaching you about health. You would have to see it at the Yardie [Jamaican] restaurants or have some friends from the islands.
D Smoke: As a kid, I did not grow up in an environment where we had information on how to be healthy and be proactive about maintaining your health. We were told, “Eat your veggies.” Those veggies were mostly out of a can. I remember loving cream corn (laughs)… Going to college [was my introduction to healthier eating]. The dining halls taught me a lot. I always liked fresh foods, but convenience kept us from eating fresh with a working mom.
2. Major life events are awakenings.
Styles P: When I was able to make money and move out of the environment I grew up in… I noticed the difference in the supermarkets. That became a real wake-up call for me… If you are from a poor neighborhood when you are Black, Brown, or Latin, I realize we are the target. You have to really start getting the information [on food].
This country does not even care about white people, to be honest. It started as [a conversation with myself]: “I’m from the inner city, and I know how it is for our people.” I make music for a living. As you travel, you see it’s not just Black people and [Latinxs] with obesity problems. It is the whole country. So, yes! We are the first target. We are the poorest… We have to wake our people up. We are never going to achieve generational wealth without generational health.
Percell Dugger: For me, COVID-19 really opened my eyes to my personal health. Teaching online classes, I would have people outside that normal age bracket of exercise [practices]. There were folks who were 50 and 60-plus taking my classes. I began realizing, “Yo, they can’t make it through the first 10 minutes.” On the one hand, it was an opportunity to restructure my approach to my practice as a coach. On the other hand, it made me aware that I have to be able to meet people where they are. They deserve the right to have a quality health outcome.
3. Responsibility is a privilege.
D Smoke: Instead of saying, “I got to do it.” I get to do it! I am fortunate to provide space… We can open the doors and let people go to a boxing gym. It is a transformative space… Providing space where people can be mentored is a privilege. It’s important.
4. It is important to check in with yourself.
Styles P: You should want to heal yourself first and find out things that are harming you. Most of the time, it is what you’re putting in your gut. And what you are ingesting, what you are physically taking, as in your mental [health] and who you’re around. Your energy.
5. Crying is good for your health.
Dugger: New Yorkers really appreciate seeing other people grinding. The New York City Marathon is one time of the year if a New Yorker is yelling at you, it’s because they’re cheering you on (laughs)… As a coach, I get emotional. It’s a very cathartic feeling to see someone manifesting a version of themselves… I got choked up. I started crying. But it was a good cry.
6. You can achieve peace after a loss.
Styles P: Most people don’t even know what mental health is. It’s a new term. We’re all getting familiar… When you lose a child, it is definitely a very devasting thing… It gets you closer to God. These profound losses bring us closer to the creator… The pain can break you down, or you can use it. As my wife says, “Let it break you open.”
These quotes have been edited for REVOLT’s readers’ clarification.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.
Take a look inside the Makers Studio presented by Walmart at REVOLT WORLD, a space where Black creators could hone in on their brand and see it come to life.
In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!
Fly Guy DC taps in with REVOLT WORLD attendees to learn what the Opportunity Center, presented by Walmart, means to them and their futures.
“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.
Walmart supports HBCU students and encourages them to be Black & Unlimited. Fly Guy DC talked to a few at REVOLT WORLD about how being an HBCU student has changed their lives.
In the season finale of “Bet on Black,” special guest judge Ray J joins as the finalists take the main stage to show they have what it takes to win the $200,000 grand prize; Melissa Butler and Eunique Jones Gibson mentor. Presented by Target.
REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.
The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.
Join Kennedy Rue on “REVOLT Black News Weekly” as she dives into the world of Black entertainment in 2023. In this episode, we welcome the iconic Ludacris, celebrated producer Will Packer, and renowned director Tim Story. Together, they explore the cultural shifts in Hollywood, emphasizing the importance of Black representation in holiday films. The discussion highlights ‘Dashing Through the Snow,’ a Christmas movie that celebrates Black joy and tackles deeper themes of faith and childhood trauma. Watch!
On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!
Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'
On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.
Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'
On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!
For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!
In this exclusive interview, DDG opens up about his fashion inspiration, what drew him to girlfriend Halle Bailey, dealing with negative opinions about his relationship, and more. Read up!
The artist has remained remarkably consistent in her song lyrics about making money, telling off haters and feeling liberated since her debut.