8.26.2009

Healthcare Debate Impacts Hip Hop Artists - Many Who are Uninsured

by DAVEY D

Not many people know that reknowned producer J-Dilla, who died two years ago from Lupus, was uninsured. That's horrific when you consider he produced multi-platinum selling songs for everyone ranging from Busta Rhymes on down to Janet Jackson to De La Soul and Common. One would think a man of his fame would be insured like the record label executives who own part of and oversaw the placement of Dilla’s music.

As shocking as it may seem, Dilla is not an usual case. Several years ago the Hip Hop community was called to action to raise money for popular producer Sam Sneed who worked alongside Dr Dre at Death Row Records and produced tracks for artists like Snoop Dogg. Sneed developed brain cancer and had no insurance. Because of fundraising efforts some of Sneeds bills were able to be paid and he eventually recovered, but sadly his plight was indicative of what so many ordinary folks are going through.

When I think of the untimely deaths of Texas Hip Hop legends Pimp C and DJ Screw, I wonder if their on going bouts with drug addiction were something that could’ve been dealt with differently with proper healthcare that has prevention as the main focus and not reaction which is what happens when we go into emergency rooms. When I think of legends like Cowboy of Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five, Professor X and Sugar Shaft of X-Clan or Big Pun, I have to wonder if accessible, affordable healthcare could’ve made the difference for them.

The sad thing about the situation surrounding X-Clan is that Paradise Gray, who is one of the two living members left, currently suffers from type 2 diabetes. He too can’t afford health insurance and talks about the trials of having to go to a clinic to wait for hours and he’s not always able to get his medicine. He walks a thin line day in and day out with his health.

Paradise also recalled the case of the late Professor X, aka Lamumba Carson, who had gone to the hospital three days before passing but wasn’t given a penicillan shot which we later found out could’ve saved his life.

In the video we see Reverend Lennox Yearwood of Washington DC based Hip Hop Caucus addressing the issue of Healthcare. Sitting alongside him is Ma Duke’s J-Dilla’s mother and Phife Dawg of Tribe Called Quest who recently had serious health concerns that he is just beginning to recover from.