Styles P, DJ Enuff & More Explore Why “Dead Rappers Gets Better Promotion” In New Forum

Statistics show 51 percent of rappers die by homicide.

Brooklyn’s BRIC Media recently hosted its first Town Hall session for the new season: “Dead Rappers Get Better Promotion: The Health Crisis in Hip Hop.”

Held on Thursday (October 5), the panel was moderated by writer, Nikki Duncan-Smith. The night jumped off with BRIC (Arts & Media in Brooklyn) President Wes Jackson and New York State Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, who shared he used to be an MC.

Delgado said the power that he saw in Black people to make change inspired him to “pursue a career in Hip-Hop” before he ever considered running for office.

“Let’s be clear, the power we possess and Hip-Hop has long possessed is nonetheless entangled with the perils of oppressive conditions,” Delgado said. “Just because we got it from the mud doesn’t mean the mud is good.”

He added, “The life expectancy for male rappers and Hip-Hop artists is approximately 30 years old and as you celebrate 50 years of Hip-Hop the unfortunate reality is that several of our pioneering artists aren’t here to celebrate. The number of rappers who never lived to see much more than 50 years is astonishing. The list is simply too long to go through.”

While gun violence and substance abuse are leading causes of death in rap culture, he asked, “What about all the rappers dying young of heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, liver or kidney failure? All these are on the Top 10 causes of death among Black men and Hispanic men, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Delgado, however, remains optimistic, “I believe we have reached the point where the culture has the capacity to turn its own power in opposition to the very structural conditions that gave birth to it in the first place and in my mind, this was always Hip-Hop’s destiny or as Nas would say, ‘It was written.’”

As dynamic as the lieutenant governor was, the panelists exceeded any expectations.

The panel included Dr. Olajide Williams (founder of Hip Hop Public Health, neurologist); Keith Nelson, Jr. (senior editor, Men’s Health); Styles P (rapper, entrepreneur); DJ Enuff (DJ, radio personality); Bob Celestin (entertainment attorney); and Ramik Williams, co-executive director of KAVI (Kings Against Violence Initiative).

Dr. Williams noted a child born in the Upper East Side of Manhattan will live 11 years longer than a child born in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Williams added to this statistic by sharing the stress that Black and Brown people endure can change our DNA in a way that opens us up for life-threatening diseases and illnesses. Additionally, 51 percent of rappers’ deaths have been by homicide.

Styles P was shocked because of the many rappers who lost their lives to COVID-19, heart disease and diabetes, among other ailments. However, so many of the deaths recently, have been as a result of gun violence.

Celestin, who was the lawyer for XXXTENTACION and Pop Smoke, explained he’s personally talked to artists about the bold violence in drill music and even their personal health. The entertainment attorney with more than 25 years of experience, also blew people away by saying the responsibility to provide wellness care, healthy life options and insurance lies on the artist and his or her management teams—not the labels. The goal is to teach artists that they are independent contractors and must handle their business—even while they are young—and possibly encourage their lawyers to get some things in their contracts early.

Styles P also dropped knowledge about healthy eating and the power of parents in changing the health culture of the community. He added that if we are to address the issue of violence, particularly in music, we have to check the people at radio stations and labels.

He said the people who are making some of the lowest vibrational music are young people—it’s older adults who put it on the radio for all to consume.

The free event had more than 400 people in attendance and was streamed live on BRIC TV’s YouTube channel.