Dead Prez’s Stic.Man On Why Hip-Hop Can Be Healthy Without Losing Its Swag

Hip-hop fans may know from the hip-hop duo Dead Prez. What they may not know, however, is that the lyricist is also a purveyor of holistic living who aims to bring healthier choices into the urban lifestyle.

READ: Dead Prez’ Dismisses Ghostwriting for Nas: “That Didn’t Happen”

After a painful experience woke him up in regards to his unhealthy habits, Stic made sure to use his platform to not only keep up with better choices, but to also inspire his fans in the hip-hop community to do the same. With his wife, he started a lifestyle brand, RBG Fit Club, dedicated to “a street smart approach to healthy living” through five basic principles. The brand also spawned a record label division to amplify his “fit-hop” genre of music.

The Toyota Green Initiative coalition member spoke to VIBE at the Broccoli City Festival about the importance of hip-hop promoting healthier habits, as well as a bit about “fit-hop” and the RBG Fit Club.

VIBE: What inspired you to living life with a more holistic approach?
Stic: Long story short, I woke up one morning with gout in my left leg. I had been drinking, smoking, you know, hip-hopped out. So much stress, no rest, all of that. My ankle swole up and I went to the doctor, and he was basically like “I’mma put you on medication.” My lady was like “you know, plants heal.” The blessing in disguise was that I healed gout totally, naturally, through my diet, I got into kung-fu, became a long-distance running coach. Years later, seeing the value of taking responsibility just because of something I wanted to share with my platform.

What were some of the things besides drinking and smoking that you had to cut out?
Whoppers [Laughs], you know what I mean, cheap foods. It was tough, but the most important thing was my perspective. A lot of my early focus was what I’m against, and my perspective changed to what I’m for, and just being proactive. That’s what helped me see. Instead of complaining, in a lot of ways, there’s a few things I needed to do to make a difference. Once you do all of that, if you have a complaint, you’ll make a complaint, but you should spend most of your energy trying to make a difference.

Has a holistic approach changed the way you approach music or the way you make music?
Yep. Most people know me from Dead Prez, but my favorite album that I created was called The Workout. It’s 14 songs of a genre I like to call “fit-hop.” It’s where I brought those two worlds together, all of my holistic health experiences and my passion for hip-hop and real lyricism. Since that record, I stopped saying “n***a” in my music, I don’t use profanity. It’s still street, but it’s proactive. I recognize the experiment they did on water. Dr. Emoto, a guy from Japan, he found out that if you speak different words to water, it reacts in either asymmetrical, beautiful ways, or dirty words. I said ‘okay, I’m gonna test that,’ and since then, my music has more context.

Tell me a little bit about the RBG Fit Club?
It’s like “Red Black Green,” or “Reaching Bigger Goals.” RGB Fit Club is our holistic platform. We wanted to inspire people to be healthier. We have five principles: knowledge, nutrition, exercise, rest and consistency, and we focus on holistic health, which is health, love, hustle and play. Today, I’m a running coach, archery instructor, life coach, Qigong practitioner. My wife is the president and she’s a nutritionist and a chef. We take all of our various practices, and we try to put it in action steps and bite-sized things that people can do, and share it with our brand. Whether it’s online, workshops…we just did a workshop at the Kennedy Center last week, so we out here making contacts.

There’s also a “fit-hop” playlist on the site. Who are some of the artists that you’d find on there?
Coach Nym is the newest artist on our RBG fit-hop label, you’ll find him there. We also curated songs from classic artists who are already established, but when they were talking about health in certain songs. O.C., he’s got a great workout song. It’s packed! Nas, Snoop, there’s so many different people, even Lil Wayne is on there.

Who are some of the artists today, the younger artists, who you enjoy watching motivate younger people to be smarter in general?
You know who I like a lot? I like Willow Smith. I think she’s brilliant, sharp, edgy, and a leader. She’s also an archer, so we’ve got that in common [Laughs]. I like Kendrick Lamar, I liked his new album. I really, really did. There’s a millennial movement of very intellectual but also tangible minded people. Dynamic, they’re experimenting how life can be lived in new ways, so I find myself following a lot of the younger crowd.

How else do you think music contributes to having a healthier lifestyle?
You know, the vibration of the music, everything is vibration. When you hear music at certain BPM’s, some content, it creates chemical responses, even though consciously, we might not be aware of that, subconsciously, it does it. BPM’s get your heart going, and certain ones calm you down. It’s the same thing when it comes to when we listen to things around you. It goes into the subconscious even more. You have to be mindful of what you’re listening to, because it affects our thinking long-term.

READ: V Exclusive! Dead Prez’ On New Album: ‘Throws Every Convention Out The Box’

I don’t know if you know, but Future’s “Mask Off” is one of the hottest songs out right now, and the first three lyrics in the chorus are “Percocet, Molly, Percocet.” How else do you think that hip-hop can embrace a healthier way-of-life?
[Laughs] right on. I’ll tell you in two answers. One, we created for the first-time ever, a new element in hip-hop, we got it ratified. The 10th Element of hip-hop, which is health and wealth. Part of our work is to help hip-hop claim that part of its heritage. It started out as a healthy alternative to violence and disenfranchisement. That’s what hip-hop was. But I think the job of the community is to invest in a healthy culture, because the rappers are coming out of communities of poor health, so we can’t look at rap and isolate and blame it or expect it to be something higher than the community. If we grow up in communities that invest or embrace health, then more people will begin to talk about it. In the meantime, we make healthy the new gangsta, and our music is still strong, it’s still got the bass and the 808 and everything that we like for the energy, but instead of putting Hennessy on top, we put green juice on top and balance it out.