The news of the sudden death of James Gandolfini at age 51 of an apparent heart attack took my youngest son by surprise and he was visibly affected; he respected the man. Apparently he wasn’t the only one; a quick check of my timeline on Twitter revealed that the man who gave us Tony Soprano was respected across the board; particularly in the hip hop culture. The death of someone who is respected is always followed by periods of self-reflection. You say to yourself…..damn….he wasn’t that much older than me. So while that thought is still on my your mind, I’m going to remind you of something I talked to you about a few years ago:
SPEAKING ON THE HEALTH OF HIP HOP:
I have a confession to make: I’m fat, out of shape and I overindulge…but truth don’t care who tells it so I’m gonna speak on the health of hip-hop.
I’m not talking about the health of the genre….that’s alive and growing (Read Steve Stoutes’ “The Tanning of America”). I’m talking about the pioneers, the super stars, those on the “come up” and the fans. By my calculation, most of you are approaching 40, already 40, and in some cases well on your way to 50. You know who you are…at around 20 or so you got involved in hip hop in a variety of areas…some of you got rich and even if you didn’t get rich…you made enough so you and you family “ate” every day. Oh yeah…you ate alright…every damn thing that wasn’t nailed down. You drank too…often in excess. You traveled the world….. was right there to see and be seen at all the big events and you said stuff…like “they sleep, we grind.” Sounds so slick…don’t you agree?….and it is slick…if you’re 20…..if you’re 40…not so much.
It’s very easy to get away with stuff like that when you’re in your 20′s . . . but it gets harder to pull off when you reach middle age. Never thought of yourself as middle age, right? …but here you are… and here’s the thing…if you keep on neglecting your health, you are not gonna go much further than middle age. I’m not in a position to say exactly what caused Big Pun, Heavy D and Patrice O’Neal to leave us so soon, and I would never dare to do that; what I am doing is speaking from my heart to those of you who are still here. You simply cannot expect to live a long and productive life if you are still trying to keep up the same pace you had at 20. It can’t be done. You know I’m telling the truth (how many of you on hearing the sad news said…”but he’s younger than me”). You might not admit it to anyone else…but you’ve already starting to notice that you still kicking…but not that high. You drink three hennys instead of seven. Yes, you’re still in the clubs, but after making sure everybody has seen you, you leave early cause you’re starting to notice that the next days grind is better on at least six hours of sleep instead of two. Stevie Wonder said “don’t fool yourself, but tell no one else, that it’s more than just an ordinary pain in your heart,” but you not feeling pain in your heart…it’s your knee! Yes I know.
Getting old is often thought of as something less than positive; nothing could be further from the truth. Let me share a story with you. I worked for a very wise doctor in a local hospital. An x-ray tech, after not seeing him in a while, said, “Wow Doc,.you getting old!” Without hesitation, he replied, “I thought that was the general idea!” Go head…read that line again!
You pioneers of hip-hop, you superstars,all of you on the come-up and yes… you fans…you have children now right? Who’s gonna tell them the story of what you’ve done, if you’re not around to do it? Hip-Hop is a global affair and a very lucrative business but who’s gonna save your children from becoming a whole new generation of Cold Crushes…forced to learn the game from scratch? It certainly won’t be you…not if you’re not checking your weight…not exercising… not getting enough rest. What’s your blood pressure numbers, how’s your cholesterol levels, do you have a family history of diabetes?
Experience has taught me that sometimes we listen to a strangers’ advice before we listen to a loved one (you are so lucky that I fall into both categories) so on behalf of the women and children in your world, I’m throwing in my two cents:
Im letting you know is no uncertain terms….finding excuses for maintaining a constant state of unhealthy is not sexy and it’s not smart. If you think time flew between 20 and 40…wait until you experience the speed between 40 and 60. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
The general economy in this country is not as good as it should be but it’s not because hip-hop has not done its part to bolster it; we need you around to make sure everybody understands and respects that….we need you here to share your knowledge, your experience and your lessons with the next generation. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH.
Last but certainly not least, we love you very much and we want you around for a very long time.
PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH.
See you at the gym