For critics of hip-hop, Nipsey Hussle’s recent murder was probably emblematic of how rappers are expected to die — young and Black. But while a handful of notable rappers have indeed had their lives cut short at an early age from senseless gun violence, many of the genre’s voices have gone on to grow older without being shot to death.
But street life isn’t the only thing threatening the lives of rappers, as shown by hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow, who was reportedly set to undergo his second heart procedure in as many weeks. He joined a growing list of other aging rappers who have suffered from health issues. The 59-year-old’s wife released a statement on Monday saying her husband’s aortic artery repair procedure was not as successful as they previously thought and that Kurtis Blow required open heart surgery, HipHopDX reported.
“Kurtis got a bad CT. The aorta has dissected and it looks like he needs to go back to surgery,” a statement from Kurtis Blow’s wife said. “He’s back in ICU and they’re discussing surgery immediately. Emergency open heart surgery.”
It was just last week when Kurtis Blow announced in an Instagram post that he was scheduled to undergo a medical procedure on his heart in Los Angeles. He followed that up with a post saying that his surgery was “a tremendous success” before announcing Sunday that he had begun physical therapy yesterday and occupational therapy and was “ on my way to a full recovery 100%.”
It was unclear what changed in between then and Monday when his wife released her statement.
In an Instagram post last week, he said he was “preparing for an aortic artery repair procedure.” It was supposed to “stabilize the artery from further damage caused by the hematoma I contacted from my recent travels to China,” he wrote on May 1.
Hematoma has been defined by Merriam-Webster as “a mass of usually clotted blood that forms in a tissue, organ, or body space as a result of a broken blood vessel.
While rap music is a relatively young genre and typically associated with young people, Kurtis Blow’s grave condition was shining a light on the health issues that aging rappers were increasingly facing. The fact that most rappers, especially the pioneers, are Black and brown only exacerbates that reality since statistics show that African Americans are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions. That was especially true when it comes to the heart.
Rapper Craig Mack died last year at the age of 47 from congestive heart failure. Pioneering DJ Lovebug Starski also died last year following a heart attack. He was 57 years old. Hip-hop singer Nate Dogg died in 2011 after suffering a series of strokes in the years leading up to his death. He was 41.
Cancer has also targeted rappers. Just last week it was reported that Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, a condition that has all but amounted to a death sentence for Black men in particular. He is 52 years old. GURU of Gang Starr died from cancer in 2010 at the age of 48 and Adam “MCA” Yauch from the Beastie Boys died from cancer in 2012.
Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest died from complications from diabetes at the age of 47.
Obviously, these ailments don’t only affect rappers, as shown last week’s death of filmmaker John Singleton at the age of 51 following complications from a stroke he had recently suffered. But, like with everybody else, as rappers get older, these health concerns will likely become more pronounced in their lives.