As KRS-One articulated throughout his catalog and in his many teachings, "Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live." As the culture continues to evolve today, many feel it's not only important, but vital to preserve and honor the fundamental elements: Graffiti, emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and knowledge. This column called "Each One, Teach One" aims to do exactly that. It will highlight various lessons that can be passed between new and old generations alike.
Health and time are universally precious assets. Setting an example for us all, Styles P is making sure neither are going unrecognized or under-appreciated.
With over two decades in the rap game, a major component that has allowed The Lox member to thrive is his seemingly effortless ability to not only maintain through the madness, but to consistently keep evolving and finding new ways to level up. While part of that may be engrained as a survival mechanism given his upbringing in an unforgiving city that doesn't sleep, the New York native has an innate self-awareness that only comes with age -- a topic he embraces wholeheartedly.
"I don't take it as I'm getting old, I'm just living in the now," he shared during an interview with FACT Magazine last year. "I think that's the best way to appreciate being an O.G. in rap music. I don't look at it as I get old. I look at it as, I age, I get better. I think it's a different outlook. Everyone who is alive is getting older, there's no one who's not getting older. You've gotta be dead to not get older. So, I just age gracefully."
When it comes to ageism in hip hop, the conversation often gets thrown into a vacuum. Whether one's critique is in the older generation not understanding the new, or the newer generation not respecting the old; Styles P wisely sidesteps the whole conversation by remaining authentic to the artform and knowing who he is as a person and MC. He understands that real recognizes real and continues to deliver exactly that -- both in his bars and in his businesses. The same focus on positively contributing to the culture of hip hop is also one he places on community and his entrepreneurial endeavors. This makes his presence as a bonafide leader who's dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles a welcoming and organic one.
Like many great journeys, Styles P's road to becoming a connoisseur of a healthy lifestyle started small and began within. After feeling rundown from eating poorly on tours, and at the suggestion of his wife Adjua, Styles made the transition into a plant-based lifestyle in 2003 and hasn't looked back since. He soon noticed an undeniable change in his temperament, energy and overall mindset; making it difficult not to credit his food choices as playing a direct role in those respects. The benefits from being more health conscious, and the enthusiasm that comes with eating better and feeling better allowed him to naturally shift from being solely a patron to a becoming a business owner and advocate.
With the help of his business partners, Styles opened up his first two juice bars in the Bronx and Yonkers in 2011 with the company expanding to Bed-Stuy in 2015 and adding fellow Lox confidante Jadakiss to its ownership team. The franchise, Juices For Life, laid a foundation for Styles' mission to help provide an opportunity for people in low-income neighborhoods, often known as "food deserts," to have access to nutritional food. From helping educate others on the importance of being conscious of what one is putting in their body to stepping up his advocacy for the sustainable food movement -- especially in urban areas -- what Styles is cultivating is as political as it is nurturing (pun intended).
"The political component of eating healthy is this: The government doesn't give a fuck about poor white people, but it really doesn't care about poor brown people," he shared in an interview with The Outline. "Look at where we live, look at our food choices. The easiest way to kill the masses is through food, water, and miseducation. [Food] is political because it's survival."
In addition to providing a welcoming community space for people of all backgrounds to come together to talk about issues and seek advice -- such as on what natural remedies can help with a common cold for example -- Styles has since expanded to the world of e-commerce.
The former Bad Boy Records rapper's latest venture, Farmacy For Life, is a digital store that features herbal remedies and places a focus on educating others on how to make healthier choices. Billed as hip hop's first health food store, Styles' online shop aims to "offer a holistic alternative to prescription drugs and painkillers containing harsh chemicals and harmful side effects," while also offering "an introduction into the many benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle."
The digital shop -- which made its official debut in 2018 -- offers a variety of natural products; such as oregano oil, black seed oil, and Irish sea moss with each carefully curated due to their own healing properties and overall health benefits. Whether you're looking to boost your immune system or find a way to feel more relaxed without alcohol or other vices, Styles and his team have got the right suggestion for you.
By laying out the information and helping remind others that it is possible to take control of one's health -- even on a tight budget -- he's helping make wellness, as well as the enthusiasm behind making conscious decisions; that much more approachable, especially in underserved communities. Even if a plant-based lifestyle, like artists such as Beyoncé and JAY-Z are encouraging fans to adopt, isn't of direct interest or feels out of the realm of possibility, we all can agree that implementing small conscious decisions into our daily routines can go a long way.
Through his companies, Juices For Life and Farmacy For Life, Styles explains he's simply "trying to start the conversation on health, spread some healing and look after our people." While his humble attitude and genuine astonishment from people are interested in talking shop about health with him are appreciated, it feels as though the rapper has unabashedly found an impassioned calling; even perhaps at his own initial surprise over a decade ago. From promoting community, togetherness, awareness, education and wellness, Styles is helping others to become the best version of themselves one small conscious choice at a time. After all, progressive, tangible change always starts from the ground up. Thank you, Styles P, for stepping up and encouraging others to do the same.
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