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Phife Dawg Speaks on Personal Struggle with Diabetes and VH1 Hip Hop Honors

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With their jazz-inflected brand of Hip-Hop and insightful lyrics A Tribe Called Quest have earned their recognition at tonight’s (Oct. 8) VH1 Hip-Hop Honors ceremony.And while the honor is a milestone in the group’s history, it is Tribe co-founder Phife Dawg who has garnered the most respect among the collective through this battle with diabetes.“For the last three years I’ve been a dialysis patient,” said the rapper, who underwent physical changes from treatment received by doctors. “The first two years I was on peritoneal dialysis, which caused me to gain a great deal of weight.””For the last seven months I’ve switched over to hemodialysis, which has caused me to lose weight and has me feeling a whole lot better,” continued Phife Dawg. “Most people aren’t used to seeing me at this weight. Initially, I weighed too much for my size and height and now I’m where I need to be.”Hemodialysis is a medical procedure used to remove waste products such as potassium and urea, as well as free water from the blood when the kidneys are incapable performing the function.Phife Dawg is among a large group of African Americans who live with diabetes. According to statistics, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes compared to the general population as 3.2 million or 13.3 percent of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have the condition.Additionally, African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites. Twenty-five percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have the condition, while one in four African American women over the age of 55 has diabetes.Despite his health situation, Phife Dawg joined fellow Tribe members  Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi as they closed out the Hip Hop Honors performances after being acknowledged for their contributions to Hip-Hop.”I am grateful that my group is receiving this honor, and would like to thank friends, family and fans for their prayers and well wishes,” the rapper said.For Fab 5 Freddy, the event’s co-executive producer, Phife Dawg’s well being became a top priority while organizing the annual event.“Working on this year’s show was a labor of love, our best ever, and Phife’s health was constantly on our minds as we re-worked shoots and interviews to accommodate his good days and bad days all the while hoping and praying that he’d have a good day on show day so the world could nod there heads once again to A Tribe Called Quest, one of Hip-Hop’s most unique and creative groups,” the former Yo! MTV Raps host said. “They were prime representatives of young black artistic intelligence throughout the ’90s, a rare commodity in today’s Hip-Hop landscape. Phife had a great day at Hip Hop Honors and Tribe closed the show with a big bang.”“Phife Dawg is not just a honoree but he is a fighter,” added Q-Tip, who expressed his admiration towards Phife. “Diabetes is a disease that can be survived, and he is a testament to this. I’m proud to be associated with him.” While word of Phife’s diabetes may be new to many rap music followers, the rhymesayer’s condition has been common knowledge among longtime Tribe fans.“As you all know, my friend Phife a/k/a ‘the funky diabetic’ has battled diabetes for several years,” said Jarobi, who cited Phife’s reference to his condition on Tribe’s hit song “Oh My God. “I know you all are concerned about his appearance lately, but rest assured he is on the road to recovery. We appreciate everyone’s support and concern and wish you all nothing but the best.”Although he receives support of fans and group mates, rumors pertaining to Phife’s health have become a conversation topic among those who were surprised to hear about the rapper’s condition.“Let’s put in deep check and school any that you know or hear about who make ignorant and selfish comments about someone’s appearance on a negative tip without understanding the real deal. Especially a cat like Phife, a hero and a 2007 VH1 Hip Hop Honoree on his greatest night ever,” said Fab 5 Freddy.As Phife’s health “remains a serious health concern,” Muhammad has witnessed how the rapper has persevered in spite of the obstacles placed in his path.”We all face challenges in life and this is one that I believe Phife has dealt with gracefully,” he stated.The Hip Hop Honors award recognition isn’t the only positive news for Phife. The rapper recently found out that his best friend and manager Rasta Root, passed the screening process to become a potential kidney donor after volunteering to be tested“It’s great news for me!,” said an optimistic Phife. “Hopefully that will happen sooner than later. It’s been a tough year, but things are looking great for me.”In addition to A Tribe Called Quest, the VH1 Hip Honors will recognize, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Whodini, the classic film Wild Style and the New Jack Swing movement. The event, hosted by 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan, airs at 10 p.m. tonight on VH1.

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