HotNewHipHop takes a look at how hip-hop's most valuable players are living, embracing, and promoting a healthier lifestyle to show people how to be their physical, mental, and spiritual best.
Slinging crack rock, popping glocks, and smacking hoes is not the way to keep it gangsta. In the words of Stic.man of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez, "HEALTHY IS THE NEW GANGSTA."
True happiness can be achieved through knowledge, proper nutrition, fitness, and meditation; not guns and drugs.
Hip-hop all-stars such as Big Sean, David Banner, 2 Chainz, Common, and Stic.man and business magnate Russell Simmons have all embraced a positive, healthy lifestyle filled with good nutrition, fitness, and positivity to promote knowledge, awareness, and overall well-being.
Put down the burger, beer, and cigarettes, take a deep breath in and out, and open your mind as HotNewHipHop looks at some of the people keeping it healthy in hip-hop.
Stic.man of Dead Prez has been been living and promoting a holistic lifestyle for years. His RBG FitClub movement was founded on five key principles: knowledge, nutrition, exercise, rest and consistency; to help raise awareness and fight illnesses taking hip-hop artists like Big Pun, Heavy D, and J Dilla from this earth far too early.
Stic's RBG movement promotes fitness, nutrition, sobriety, meditation, alternative healing, and social justice surrounding health-related issues.
In 2011, Stic.man released The Workout album filled with songs of motivation and inspiration to help people stay their physical, mental, and spiritual best.
Always spreading love, and wisdom, in 2013, the rapper wrote an article called "7 Ways to Eat Good on a Hood Budget" to offer tips to everyone who has said "I want to eat healthier, but it's too expensive!" Tip #1: produce, not packagaes. You'll stay healthier AND save money. Real healthy food doesn't need to be expensive.
Stic also encourages everyone to seek the guidance of a holistic nutritionist. Most Western trained doctors know very little about nutrition, and cannot help us understand the ways in which foods can hurt and heal us. Many times illness is caused by poor nutrition. Healthy living should not be dependent on doctors and medication.
"When I'm 198 lbs, like I am now, everybody's girlfriend likes me," 50 told the NY Daily News. "Technically, six-foot-one, I'd be obese, but it's all muscle mass."
The New York rapper stays fit by constantly changing up his workout . "It [your workout routine] should never stay the same for long periods of time. You have to challenge yourself and your muscles," he explains. "When you are really regimented, it's the same over and over and you start to get comfortable. Switching up the style of training works your muscles differently."
50 Cent is also very mindful about he puts into his body. The diet portion of the book is just as important as the workout routine.
"The dieting portion of the book is usually what people don't focus on a lot but that's what makes dramatic changes in you physically," he says. "Eating well was something I learned as I started to be successful and had to travel and perform concerts, which are an intense cardio workout."
He first started working out after miraculously surviving being shot nine times in 2000. Then, he lost a ton of weight in 2010 when he took on the role of a college football player with cancer for the 2011 film "All Things Fall Apart." The part called for 50 to run 15 miles twice a day and survive on a liquid diet for 10 weeks.
"A big mistake people make when they are trying to lose weight is that they stop eating," says 50 Cent. "They'll eat salads once a day and then their body starts trying to protect itself and holds onto the fat. I was doing cardio to suppress my appetite. I felt exhausted all the time because of my weight."
The new weight loss provided 50 with the proverbial canvas he needed to sculpt the body he always wanted. "I didn't just eat everything I wanted to. I put the weight back on in the right way."
About five years ago, Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz started suffering from stomach problems. Upon being diagnosed with ulcers and reflux disease, he decided to change his eating habits. In the summer 2013, he announced plans to release a cookbook called "#MealTime" with Atlanta-based Chef Aleem. The book features healthy, but delicious recipes such as teriyaki salmon and fried chicken.
Here are some super dope tips from Tiity Boi and Chef Aleem on how to cook their awesome #MealTime recipes like a hip-hop star:
1. "Put on your Versace apron"
2. "If wearing a four-finger ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook."
3. "Position yourself in a room surrounded by a handful of TVs playing Sports Center with the sound off."
4. "Cook teriyaki salmon for 3-4 minutes while blasting 'Fork' at an ignorant level."
5. "Call Fergie, invite her over to watch a movie on Netflix. Once she accepts, start cooking green beans."
6. "Serve asparagus warm, lean back and vibe out."
7. Start 'U Da Realest' from the top and get into the right headspace to finish up the meal."
8. "Once finished, plate rack of lamb alongside a bottle of extravagantly priced cabernet. 2 Chainz and fine wine. You want true?
That's true enough."
9."Plate chicken for yourself, sit at the head of your dining room table and eat the chicken while you sing along to 'Beautiful Pain.'"
10. "Take a minute to celebrate yourself and celebrate the ‘me time’ you were able to spend cooking these meals."
The Hairweave Killer also posts plenty of pics of nutritious, but delectable and tempting dishes on his Instagram.
To sum up: You wanna be a true OG like 2 Chainz? Start eating healthy. The Versace apron is optional, but highly encouraged.
According to the Health Fitness Revolution G.O.O.D Music rapper Big Sean is one of the healthiest hip-hop artists in the industry. "I try to work out as much as possible," he says. "Although sometimes it is difficult with my hectic schedule. But whenever I do, I function better, which makes life better."
Sean Don stays fit by staying knowledgeable, exercising, and eating only clean, organic food. His favorite healthy vegetarian meal is a salad with organic greens and eggs.
"I don't do shit till I meditate." These are the words Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons lives by.
"The idea of being still and operating from a calm place is one that I never would've thought would've suited my lifestyle or my goals or the way that I pursue life, 'cause I pursue everything with a vigor," said Simmons. Surprising words from a man nicknamed Uncle Rush, huh?
In his book, "Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple," Simmons shares a simple, but extremely powerful tool that will allow you to stop thinking about the past and future, and live in the moment, "which is the only place that you can truly find success and happiness," he says.
Simmons' secret weapon for achieving mindfulness is meditation.
As the title suggests, the book is a very straight-forward, simple guide to getting over all the misconceptions or worries people might have about meditation, and learn how to use it to be your absolute best self.
Does meditation really work?
According to Russell Simmons, the answer is "YES!"
Here are Uncle Rush's reasons for why meditating will absolutely change your life:
• It will let you do twice the work in half the time. That might seem like a snake oil salesman pitch, but it's true. When you meditate, you become less distracted and more focused. And when the distractions are gone, it will make you more productive and efficient and what you're doing.
• It's going to make you less anxious. On an emotional level, so much of our anxiety comes for that tendency I mentioned to get entangled in the past and the future. When you use meditation to help you live in the moment, so much of that anxiety just washes away.
• It will help you become more balanced. In today's world, we're encouraged to get amped up over so called "victories" and by extension get depressed over our so called "failures." But we don't have to spend our lives on this emotional roller coaster rushing between the highs of "triumph" and the lows of "defeat." When we become still through meditation, we realize that everything we do has value, that every moment we're breathing is a miracle. And if we can carry even a little bit of that truth with us out of our meditation and into our day, we'll be so much more content and happy.
• It is going to make you feel more connected. Now in a world dominated by social media and communication, you might say, "Why do I have to be even more connected?" The answer is that as much as I love tools like Twitter or texting, they don't promote true connectedness. But when you sit in silence everyday, you begin to realize just how much you have in common with not just other people, but all the living creatures on this beautiful earth. That knowledge makes you more compassionate. And compassionate people are happy people.
• Meditation is going to make you healthier. It's going to lower your blood pressure, which is a condition that makes so many people needlessly ill. It's going to make you less stressed, which we know is a killer. If you struggle with insomnia, it's going to help you sleep better. In fact, I gave a speech last night at the Rubin Museum in Manhattan last night with David Vago, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard. He said that medical studies are now showing that in addition to those help benefits, meditation is show to be able to prevent cancer in people who are predisposition to the disease.
It only takes 20 minutes twice a day, which Simmons acknowledges might seem like a lot. But think about all the time we waste doing things that don't bring us nearly as much contentment and happiness.
Eating wholesome, nutritious food doesn't just do great things for your body. It does amazing things for your soul. New York rappers Styles P and Jadakiss recognize that.
Earlier in 2014, the duo opened a juice bar in Yonkers, where people could sit down, enjoy a delicious juice, and talk out their differences.
"We want to bring unity to the youth who are engaging in all of this nonsense, " Jadakiss said of the increased violence in their community. "Here you pretty much know everybody. As I said before 'love is love' is our slogan. We don't tolerate no violence. We're going to try to settle them down, give them a juice, and rectify whatever it is they're going through because violence and juice don't go together."
"It takes a village, they say, to raise a kid," said Styles P, who opened his own juice bar, Juices for Life, in the Bronx in 2011. "So it's up to all of us as a community to make sure we do that."
"It’s all good in the 'hood if you know what I mean — fresh fruit, whole grain, low fat, extra lean."
In 2006, the original human beatbox, Doug E. Fresh, along with neurologist and Columbia University academic Dr. Olajide Williams, MS, MD, launched Hip Hop Public Health, an organization dedicated to using music to raise awareness and combat unhealthy lifestyle choices.
"Health has always been an important thing to me. I exercise and try to take care of myself, and drink a lot of water! And I push that to my kids so that they can carry on that same energy," Doug E told Ebony in 2012.
"Life in urban areas, life in the ghetto, the hard things that people are dealing with — hip-hop has always addressed these issues," says Monique Hedmann, MPH, senior project officer at Hip Hop Public Health. "If hip-hop can address police brutality, absentee parenthood, and all the issues going on in urban communities, it can absolutely effectively address poor health."
"We all know that some people will not pay attention to critical issues, especially when it comes to health, so we have to find creative ways to educate them," said Darryl "DMC" McDaniels in 2012. "Put the music on, turn it up loud and teach! Its bound to make them listen!"
To stay, happy, healthy, and successful, rapper/actor/author Common focuses on a combination of positive thinking, nutrition, and exercise.
The Chicago emcee wasn't always into this healthy lifestyle. "When I came into the game, I wasn't working out. I was eating a lot and drinking a lot of beer," he said in an interview with Men's Fitness. "Now I am definitely more fit and more focused." Losing loved ones from drug addiction on the South Side of Chicago inspired Common to embrace a healthier lifestyle. "I wanted to do something special and my deciding was part of that decision," he said. "When you work out and eat well, then you feel more confident, more vibrant, and your mind is clearer too."
Common stays fit by playing basketball, working out with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, and running while spitting rhymes. "It's a tough workout especially when your rhyme pattern is filled with a lot of words."
Common is a former vegan-turned-vegetarian. He doesn't eat meat, but he does enjoy dairy and fish.
"I did my own tests and found that beef and pork weren’t really good for my system. So I’ve been a lot clearer by not eating those meats, and also chicken. Turkey was good, I like turkey, bacon and all that, but I just went vegan at one point. So when I decided to go back the other way, I just needed fish and I feel balanced with that," he once explained in an interview about his eating habits.
Rick Ross credits his insane weight loss to working out and eating healthy. Back in May, the Mastermind told Tim Westwood that he's really enjoying CrossFit. "I call it 'RossFit,'" he explained.
"The most I used to do for exercise was stand up to count the money," Rozay said. "Now they give me fruit to eat. I forgot what fruit tasted like. I eat pears now and shit like that. Shout out to all the pear." Take a cue from Ross and start giving your favorite fruit a shout out.
Today, Mississippi rapper, actor, and activist David Banner walks with a chest of steel, six-pack abs, and a love of nutritious but delicious treats like vegan cookies and smoothies made with almond milk, berries, and spinach. He struggled with giving up the comfort foods he grew up on. Macaroni and cheese and fried chicken were "the hardest" to give up, but Banner has learned to "submerge" himself into healthy eating. He had to, to save his life. At one point, he suffered from really high blood pressure and sleep apnea, and he was very close to getting diabetes.
One night, the rapper was in a motorcycle accident, and went to the emergency room. The doctor was so shocked and disturbed by his high blood pressure that he didn't even treat his injuries. This was obviously a huge wakeup call to start working out and eating healthy.
In a 2008 interview with AllHipHop, Banner said that after getting that alarming news at the ER, he changed his diet to vegan and started working out 4-5 times a week. "Exercise is my drug of choice!"
"We, as entertainers, not just rappers, have a tendency to influence people to drink Cristal and buy high-priced cars, to do so many other things, but we’re in a position to help save people’s lives," he says. "I honestly believe this, and I know there’s no way to quantify it and really prove it, but I really believe that I put 10 years on my life. I can look at my skin, I can look at my face, I can look at my body, I know I’ve put 10 years on my life.”