Saturday, May 25, 2013

Does living a hip hop life lead to an early death?

"It's not really worth it to literally party yourself to death. It's like committing suicide," he added. "You have to choose between what makes you feel good and what makes you think you feel good." - Melle Mel

On Feb. 14, rapper Timothy Blair, better known as "Tim Dog," reportedly died from a seizure following a battle with diabetes. Rolling Stone reported this news via a report from The Source, but that link is now disabled

Southaven, Miss., native Esther Pilgrim is claiming the rapper actually faked his death to swindle her out of $32,000. The Mississippi woman who accused Blair of scamming her was featured last year on "Dateline NBC," along with other women he had persuaded to give him money. Pilgrim told the program she opened credit cards to get money to invest in Tim Dog albums that Blair said he was producing.

According to the Christian Science Monitor: Blair is from New York, but had been living in Atlanta. The Fulton County medical examiner's office there said there was no record of his death.

Those at the front desk of the high rise listed as his last address said they didn't know of anyone by the name Timothy Blair living there. An email to his daughter wasn't immediately returned. Attorney Stan Little, listed in court records as Blair's attorney in the larceny case, did not immediately respond to a phone message left at his office Thursday. In a story earlier this month about rappers dying in their 40s from various ailments, The Associated Press reported Blair's death, but did not say when he died or give a cause. Neither did many other media reports.
Regardless of the status of Tim Dog, the AP story has some good points:

Some of the genre's elder statesmen say they're worried about the culture's focus on youth, current emphasis on freewheeling partying and "you only live once" ethos, as popularized by Drake's 2011 hit "The Motto."

"Hip-hop being a lifestyle culture ... a part of American culture, you have to be mindful that somebody is going to grow old, age," said rap pioneer Melle Mel. "At some point somebody has to realize that hip-hop has to learn how to grow up. It's way too juvenile and it's been that way for too long."

The 51-year-old rapper, who memorably warned in 1982's "The Message" about urban youth who "lived so fast and died so young," said he suffers chronic bronchitis from being around marijuana and cigarette smoke when he was performing. Of course, heavy drug use in hip-hop or rock is hardly new: Cowboy of his Furious Five group died in 1989 "basically from getting high," Melle Mel said.

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