Hip-hop and health don’t go together. Who’s ever dropped the mic after a sick rhyme about pilates? It’s better to spit about blacked-out lungs and kidney stones than nutrition and exercise. Kale and grass-fed beef — the kind you eat — are utterly absent from rap lyrics. The only cardio a rapper needs he can get through laying pipe, counting cash, balling, and gang-banging. Right?
Not anymore. Hip-hop is growing up. Its stance on health is maturing. Now it eats Brussels sprouts, drinks green juice, and does lunges. It’s not cool to have a stroke before you’re 40. Biggie says we all bleed, but hypertension causes more deaths annually in the United States than gunshots do. Rappers now realize this. Case in point, Rick Ross.
Ross is (or was) a self-proclaimed “Fat motherfucker,” and he was in trouble. He was huge. His husky growl gave bass like an 808, and his songs even sounded overweight. His trademark grunts — though so damned cool — resembled mini heart attacks. Hip-hop loved him. His mass appeal was as wide as his waist line. He was wealthy and morbidly unhealthy.
Back in 2011, Ross suffered two seizures in six hours while flying from Fort Lauderdale to Memphis. The trip to Memphis was, at least in part, a business trip. Ross planned to open a Wingstop restaurant because he likes creating jobs and, as he told Forbes, “I just love Wingstop.” Fate, it seems, is a dish best served breaded and with a bucket of ranch.
Ross now owns nine Wingstop franchises across the country. “They got my favorite lemon pepper wings in the world, so it’s just a natural attraction,” he told Forbes.
Six months later, seizure struck again. Ross was forced to cancel a show in Guyana when doctors ordered him not to fly following a medical emergency, according a statement from the event promoters.
But Ross has also now turned to health in a Reebok-sponsored epiphany. He does CrossFit, i.e. #RossFit. He’s lost more than 100 pounds. He even gave a shoutout to pears in an interview with British DJ Tim Westwood.
Perhaps Ross finally realized: God forgives, arteries don't.
But Rick isn’t the only rapper revitalizing his health. 50 Cent first burst in da club in 2003 looking like a cyborg. He even outlined his core on The Massacre album cover. In 2012, Dr. Dre kicked Warren G’s OG ass into shape with his own workout plan. Jay Z joined Beyoncé on a 22-day vegan diet in 2013. And this February, the couple launched a vegan delivery service.
Meanwhile, the Game undertook a 60-day fitness challenge, lost 20 pounds of body fat, and broadcast it all across social media with plenty of shirtless selfies.
The hip-hop climate, it seems, is warming up to healthfulness.
If you haven’t followed Rick Ross’ transition, you probably won’t recognize him when he skips onto the stage at the BB&T Center. Rick Ross? More like Stick Ross, some might say as they search hopelessly for a high-five.
He’s slim and clean, and his arteries probably pump at a reasonable pace for a man just shy of 40. It’s refreshing to see someone make such a drastic change for himself but also for his family and fans. Thanks, Rick. Really. You’ve set an example in rap, and you look good for it.
Now the next rap taboo to address: homophobia.
Rick Ross with Jeezy, Future, and K. Michelle. 8 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Call 954-835-7000, or visit thebbtcenter.com. Tickets cost $25 to $195.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.