Tuesday, June 19th, 2017 was a tough day for Hip-Hop fans. Albert ‘Prodigy’ Johnson, half of Mobb Deep, passed away due to complications with sickle cell at 42. When I saw the news from Twitter I felt numb. This wasn’t the first Hip-Hop legend to pass. Death is part of life, you know the cliché. I can’t sit here and tell you how Mobb Deep changed my life or any stories like that. I respect Prodigy as one of the best lyricists my favorite genre of music had to offer but his death affected me in a different way than it did others.
April 2016 is a major part of my life. I had just accepted a position with a small company in Orlando, FL, packing my belongings into a car and leaving Augusta, GA after almost three years. I was leaving the radio business after 11 years and starting a new chapter in my life. My next to last day in radio just so happened to be my 29th birthday. I had told all of my record reps from the various labels we worked with about my news. They all came to see me one last time throughout the month (I think I paid for lunch maybe four times that month thanks to all the label lunches).
My boss and I were driving back to our station with one of our record reps. My girlfriend had been calling, trying to tell me the news but my cousin would be the one to break it in a text message while I was dialing her number: “Dude, did you see Prince died?!”. My heart dropped. Prince was one of my favorite artists of all time. I grew up listening to his music with my mom and his songs were some of the first I remember helping create the music fan that I am today. And just like that he was gone, on my birthday.
Before Prince passed I never understood how people could mourn celebrities. They’re people you don’t know or have had rare encounters with over time. When Prince died it shook me and I had a different feeling. It was like someone came and punched me in the pit of my stomach, at the same time removing all of my memories of the music he created. I now understand how hard it is when something that special from your childhood dies. It feels like a piece of you has gone with it. We spend our entire lives trying to recreate those joyous moments we had as children with our favorite movies, TV shows and music. These forms of media take us to a place that isn’t as hateful and real as our world. They transport us into the past when life was easy and you didn’t stress over every single thing. I believe now that we don’t necessarily mourn the celebrity who passes more so than the memories they’ve created for you because you’ll never have a chance to create new ones again.
That brings us to today. When Prince passed I decided to take my health more serious than I had in the past. I’m a healthy person with my only health issues ever being the flu, a broken wrist at 15, and being slightly overweight for most of my mid-20’s. Life gets in the way and you forget about taking care of your body sometimes. When Prodigy passed it shook me in a different way. I turned 30 this year and have been trying to get back in shape. I still haven’t been to the doctor since making that vow last year (and one to my girlfriend) but this is what’s making me take it more serious this time: Prodigy passed at 42. One half of one of the greatest duos in Hip-Hop history was only 12 years older than me. I’ve been irresponsible about this far too long. My family, both sides, is full of hereditary diseases and mental issues (alcoholism, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, diabetes, etc.) that I have neglected because of laziness, finances, and this “I don’t get sick” mentality I carry around. Guys try to be as macho as possible when it comes to caring about ourselves. We’re also the same gender that thinks we’re dying the minute we get a cold.
I’m writing this to try and convince anyone else who is like me that it’s too important to not do these routine things. Make that appointment to get a checkup. Get that blood test. Check into your insurance policy, make sure you have life insurance, and try to start eating healthier. You have family and loved ones who care about you and want to see you live a long life. If you won’t do it for yourself at least do it for them.
By Joe Coad