year, 2000 babies are born in the United States with a life long condition
called sickle cell disease. This disease
of the blood affects between 50-75,000 people in the U.S. and millions
throughout the world.
two million Americans carry the sickle cell trait, which increases the chance
that the disorder is passed on to their children.
cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States
affecting those of African descent and Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry, but the
trait has also been found in those with Middle Eastern, Indian, Latin American,
Native American, and Mediterranean heritage. One in every 500 African-American
births is affected with sickle cell disease.
two most common forms of sickle cell disease are sickle cell trait and sickle
cell anemia. They are characterized by defective hemoglobin, a protein in
red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body. This defective
hemoglobin interferes with the red blood cells ability to carry oxygen.
who inherited the sickle cell trait have one defective gene, and no symptoms to
moderate symptoms of the disease in most cases. If a person has sickle cell
anemia, the most common and most severe form of the disease, they are at risk
for many problems:
(very low blood counts)
crisis or sickle cell crisis – which causes almost every joint in your body to
hurt, usually requiring hospitalization, strong pain medicines, and IV fluids
chest syndrome which is similar to pneumonia, but much more painful
children are screened at birth and/or parents who are unsure of their status
are screened, sickle cell disease can be significantly reduced by education
description of all things sickle cell is way beyond the scope of this article,
however I wanted my friends who read my column for AllHipHop.com to really
understand this preventable disease, so I called on Prodigy of Mobb Deep to
help me out.
[at the office in Baton Rouge, LA]: P,
whats good? How are you feeling?
[driving through Manhattan]: Im good;
whats good with you Doc?
H2D: The same thing; trying to bring more awareness
to the Hip-Hop community on health issues. Man, I would like for you to
enlighten us about something youve dealt with all your life. Tell me about
sickle cell disease and how it has affected you.
Prodigy: I mean basically, I was diagnosed with sickle
cell when I was three months old. I have the worse type of sickle cell the SS type. If I dont take care of myself and do the
right things, I will experience a severely painful sickle cell crisis; all my
joints hurt; its a bad scene. Before I really knew how to take care of myself
I was in and out of the hospital they had me on morphine for pain; IVs in my
arm; couldnt get comfortable for days at a time it was really hard on my body.
H2D: Are you taking any medicines right now?
I dont take none of these medicines that they try to say is good to
take for sickle cell. All I do is try to have a healthy diet as much as
possible; I drink water like a fish, eat healthy, and I notice that since Ive
been doing that for the past seven to eight years, I dont get sick as much as
I use too. If I do get sick, its really because of something Im doing wrong.
I really know my body and how to control it.
H2D: Yeah, thats whats up. Now, in 2000, you
wrote the song You Can Never Feel My Pain on your first solo album, HNIC. This song really dealt with the
harsh realities of sickle cell and how it affected you. Almost like sickle cell
101. What motivated you to write that piece?
Prodigy: Basically because at every Mobb Deep show, I
would see somebody in the crowd, and they would yell to me like Yo P, I got
sickle cell too. And they would ask how
I was able to perform and do all that I do. I always encourage my fans that
they should reach for their goals and reach high when doing it; and to further
this point I decided to drop something on my album to tell people about the
pain that I and others with sickle cell suffer with, which is a handicap no
different than living in poverty, but that its something you can escape.
Im sure you know T-Boz has sickle cell.
She was a national spokes person for the disease back in the day.
Yeah, I wanted T-Boz to get on that song with me. So I actually reached out to her, went down
to Atlanta and played the song for her. She came to the studio, liked the song, but we both decided that it was
best for me to roll with that approach.
a long conversation about sickle cell and this drug called hydroxyurea. We
talked about this drug and some the side effects. She had decided at the time
to not take the medicine. I kinda felt like we were being used as guinea pigs
when they try to come up with these new drugs. Thats why I really dont take
or promote some of the medicines.
H2D: I can respect that. Well, other than You Can
Never Feel My Pain, do you have any new songs dedicated to creating awareness
about sickle cell?
Prodigy: I already did the song and I dont want to
keep doing the same old thing. Im gonna
start being more vocal about it, like with this [interview]. When I get out [of prison] and get home, I
want to hook up with you and do the community thing you got going on; talk to
some kids and tell them what its like to live with sickle cell and how they
can still be successful. You can just
set something up and Ill roll with you. Thats good sh** what you doing Doc.
H2D: Yeah, thats real talk. It has been a challenge, but one I
welcome. You know lately, theres been a
lot of things going on in regards to health and Hip-Hop: Kayne West and his mother’s death; Foxy Brown
and her battle with hearing loss; Pimp C leaving us way too early; Nate Dogg
having a stroke do you think the Hip-Hop culture is taking health issues
Prodigy: A lot of young peoples attitude is they feel
invincible. Its like someone who has
sickle cell and someone who doesnt? The person who doesnt have sickle cell
thinks they can drink, smoke, eat anything and everything, just go hard and
say, Hey, Im okay. If I do that, it
affects me immediately.
may not feel the effects until 30, 40, 50 years later when they got heart
problems, lung problems, and they are dying from things they could have
prevented. To me, sickle cell is like an alarm system, because it lets me know
when Im doing something wrong.
What advice would you give to the young people growing up and living
with sickle cell?
Prodigy: The number one rule for people with sickle cell,
as far as Im concerned, is their diet has to be strict. You damn near have to
be a vegetarian to avoid getting sick and having a painful sickle cell crisis. You
have got to take care of your health. Eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water,
and eat lots of vegetables. I guarantee that if you do that and get all the
impurities out of your system, you will see a hundred percent turnaround.
H2D: What kind of stuff do you eat?
Prodigy: Like today, I might have baked salmon, brown
rice, and green vegetables. I try to
stay away from the poisonous food additives. I dont drink sodas or eat a lot
of junk. This is the plan you have to follow to keep the impurities out of your
body. You gotta really eat healthy; break it down to a science and start
learning how to read labels and know what ingredients are good and bad for you.
know I keep saying this, but you gotta drink mad water. It helps wash away all
impurities and poison in the body.
H2D: P, thanks for your time. Anything else you would like to say to AllHipHop?
Prodigy: Just support the real sh** that we putting
out there man, ’cause theres a lot of people who are not being real. They are
chasing some outrageous dream. Im staying grounded. Im focusing on real sh**.
So, just support real artist like Mobb Deep and myself. Check out my website at
HNIC2.com. A lot of good information, and I will have my address up so that
they can write me letters while Im locked up.
Tha Hip Hop Doc at www:h2doc.com for the latest news on how to stay healthy!