HEALTH ROW: BRINGING HEALTH TO HIP HOP
Imagined we lived in a world where health was actually more important than anything else we placed priorities on. Instead of worrying about the latest smart phone, tech gadgets, social media likes, luxury cars, sneakers, jewelry, or even making money, wouldn’t it be a relief to know that you are in good health?
For ages, the urban community has been neglected in healthcare, health services and information. Similar to the systemic criminal justice system, there is also a food industrial complex that undermines and underserves the American community. Face it, it’s all about imprisonment and ghettos of the mind. Either the government is trying to imprison us mentally, physically or spiritually. Unfortunately, over the past several centuries, the systemic perpetuation of poor dietary and nutritional administration has been successful. What else would you expect from a government that considers pizza to be a vegetable?
According to Alex Mayyasi and Priceonomics.com, The American government first proposed that an unhealthy food—if it contains trace amounts of a healthy ingredient—could count as a vegetable in 1981. Looking for ways to cut the school lunch budget, the Reagan Administration suggested that cafeterias include ingredients in condiments like pickle relish and ketchup toward nutritional requirements. Yes, Reagan had declared ketchup as a vegetable. “This is one of the most ridiculous regulations I ever heard of,” Republican Senator John Heinz, owner of Heinz, told the press “and I suppose I need not add that I know something about ketchup and relish.”
The Reagan Administration dropped the proposal, but it soon became law anyway. When the Obama Administration directed the Department of Agriculture to revise school lunch policies in 2011, experts took aim at the rule that allowed the tiny amount of tomato paste in pizza sauce to count toward the vegetable requirements of each meal.
As innovative as hip hop was during it’s Reaganomic inception, the culture is proving to evolve more than skeptics like Delores Tucker could’ve imagined. Despite the current obesity rate in this country, Americans have adopted a healthier lifestyle changes and trends. There has been a significant increase of Americans concerned with GMO, MSG, glutten free options as well as more organic food choices. Due to the rise of vegetarians and vegan culture, there are now more healthy options than ever to supplement the typical meat and dairy diet. From fast food chains, manufacturers, farm-to-table groceries and alternative organic and semi-organic establishments such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, choosing a healthier diet and lifestyle has become easier, more accessible and quite popular.
The trends in culture have finally trickled down to the hood and the urban community. In this superfluous, hyper-vain era of public acceptance and selfies, hip hop has gotten hip to the game of wellness and longevity. It is dangerously apparent that the focus can no longer remain on mere survival. Although the former First Lady led with the first baton, we need more advocates than Michell Obama to spread the word about health and wellness to the poor and underprivileged communities. What better beacon than hip hop?
Recent documentaries such as Feel Rich: Health is the New Wealth explores this topic of health intersecting with hip hop as well as the self-love revolution. The film is narrated by Quincy Jones III and features commentary and testimonies from industry veterans such as Russell Simmons, Jermaine Dupri. Common, The Game, Fat Joe and others.
The film discusses the new cultural wave and wellness movement in hip hop. The content details everything from Harlem rap royalty Styles P and Jadakiss and their Juices 4 Life, a juice bar and healthy lifestyle brand to “The Workout” with Sticman from Dead Prez.
Juices 4 Life mission statement: Our mission as a brotherhood brand and family is to get as many people healthy and/or health minded as possible. Most people in poorer communities do not have health insurance and do not have regular doctor visits. Being more health conscious can limit unnecessary ailments caused by foods high in sodium, fat, etc. which will help the next generations to come.
The film also goes into depth about the widespread problem with obesity in the hip hop community. Artists like Fat Joe and Paul Wall give heartfelt testimonies about their personal revelations about being overweight and their new healthy lifestyle changes. Although its kind of sad, it’s ironic how the numerous cases of dying hip hop legends helped them change perspectives and lifestyle.
The documentary painfully pays respects to the fallen hip hop heroes that left us too soon due to health issues, including legends such as Big Pun, Heavy D, J. Dilla, Phife Dawg, Guru, Nate Dogg, Sean Price and so many others who suffered from complications such as diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and cancer. Malnutrition, poor diet, lack of exercise and education are some of the key ingredients that may have prevented these fatalities, however, like most revolutions, it must often begin with a movement.
Sticman from hip hop group Dead Prez knows all about revolutionary movements. Thats the primary reason he launched his popular tutorial workout brand “The Workout” and “RGB Fit Club.”
As the healthy lifestyle trend continues to rise in the urban community, there are various alternative organizations designed for the inner-city that are dedicated to healthcare and wellness. Hip Hop Public Health uses the power of hip hop to foster positive health behavior and change. Focused on empowering the youth, HHPH shares this mission statement:
“For many of us, music has been a lifeline to positive transformation. Through hip-hop music, we seek to promote health equity among youth using an innovative array of media tools designed to improve health literacy.” hhph.org
There are other new organization such as the Health Row Group. Based in the Bronx, NYC, HRG is a community based health and wellness lifestyle program that provides a bridge to sustaining a healthy living. Both committed to assisting people find adequate healthcare, providers, facilities and information on wellness, wholistic medicine, diet, nutrition and exercise.
Owner and founder of Health Row Group, Sharif Profit says he was inspired to start HRG because there was no dedicated presence of healthcare information sharing in the hood.
A music industry veteran for over 25 years, Profit has been involved in marketing, promotions and merchandise for artists and labels such as LL Cool J, 50 Cent, G-Unit, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Violator, Elektra Records, Sony, Def Jam, Warner Bros, Talib Kweli, and several others. Now he wants to leverage the playing field and connect the dots to a prevalent music culture that began in the Bronx.
HRG also specializes in job training and placement. As healthcare informatics and technology rises and is implemented into healthcare systems nationwide and across the globe, the opportunity for work increases. In that regard, Profit acts as a recruiter for those interested in a career in healthcare. Specifically, working in the implementation of electronic medical records (EMR), network engineering, analytics and consulting.
“I’m taking what I learned in music and applying it to healthcare and IT.”
After nearly 10 years of working in the healthcare IT field via the NICEHR Group, Profit is excited about transferring his wealth of knowledge to the music industry.
A friend of mine agreed that this was indeed a great thing that Profit was doing bridging the healthcare gap because most of the rappers of the 80’s and 90’s are unemployed and need jobs.
Profit is a game changer. Not only has he implemented a personal healthy diet and lifestyle change for himself and his family, including the decision to go vegan, he is making sure that his peers and colleagues have an opportunity to change lifestyles and career paths. As a recruiter in the EMR field, Profit has strong viable relationships with over 11 Healthcare IT companies, and the number is steady growing. Mandated in 2008 by President Obama as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, all public and private healthcare providers and other eligible professionals were required to adopt and demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR) by January 1, 2014 in order to maintain their existing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement levels. That deadline has then been extended, due to the overwhelming popularity and demand the EMR systems, increasing technology companies designing new systems and the upgrading of antiquated paper charts or outdated systems.
“I’m giving youth jobs… I met a young man last night at the coffee shop at 3am. He was working for a temp agency at the hospital. He knew what we were doing at the hospital and asked how he could apply to those jobs. I said send me your resume. The 24 year old Haitian brother has a degree in computer science. I asked if he could travel and quit your job in the morning. He said f#ck yeah! So he quit his job and I had him on a plane the next day for a 6 week job in less than 24 hours. We’re changing lives out here.”
For more information about Health Row Group visit https://healthrowgroup.com/