“Yeah, I was a brother on the streets of Compton doing a lot of things most people look down on — but it did pay off. Then we started rapping about real stuff that shook up the LAPD and the FBI. But we got our message across big time, and everyone in America started paying attention to the boys in the ‘hood.”
“Soon our anger and hope got everyone riled up. There were great rewards for me personally, like fancy cars, gorgeous women and good living. Like real non-stop excitement. I’m not religious, but wrong or right, that’s me.”
“I’m not saying this because I’m looking for a soft cushion wherever I’m heading, I just feel that I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late.”
“I’m not looking to blame anyone except myself. I have learned in the last week that this thing is real, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone. My girl Tomika and I have been together for four years and we recently got married. She’s good, she’s kind and a wonderful mother. We have a little boy who’s a year old. Before Tomika I had other women. I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good to me. I love all my kids and always took care of them.”
“Now I’m in the biggest fight of my life, and it ain’t easy. But I want to say much love to those who have been down to me. And thanks for your support.”
Just remember: it’s YOUR real time and YOUR real life.
Many of us have forgotten these haunting words from the late Eazy E who died from AIDs back in 1995. His death sent shock waves within the Hip Hop community and helped open people’s eyes. His death also helped shatter the myth of that HIV and AIDS was solely a gay white man’s disease.
Today is December 1 2013 and as we acknowledge World AIDs Day where the theme is Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation, most of us are far more educated and understand that AIDs is a worldwide situation that has impacted all communities. Sadly in spite of the urgency, many of us have reverted back to what is deemed as irresponsible behavior. Many of us have looked at the success of people like basketball player Magic Johnson who was diagnosed with HIV and come to believe that this disease will not touch us…
Shortly after Eazy E’s death many people began to pay closer attention to a flurry of Hip Hop themed projects that had launched a year prior to his death. Most notable was the Stolen Moments; Red Hot +Cool which was an album and documentary that was hailed as Time Magazine’s 1994 Album of the Year. It was one of the first projects to explore the impact of AIDS upon the African American community. The CD features collaborations between old school jazz performers and contemporary hip hop artists. The documentary film focusing on the impact of AIDS on communities of color was broadcast on PBS in tandem with the album release, and released on home video.
This incredible documentary featured groups like ‘The Pharcyde‘ who performed their dope song ‘Rubbers‘.. Below is the original track. The other video is the live performance that aired in the documentary.
A year prior to Eazy’s death artist like Michael Franti did an incredible song and video called ‘Positive’ which caught our attention..I recall around World AID Day after Eazy E’s death, AIDs activists placed calls to urban radio stations all over the country to see if they could play the song. Sadly many didn’t, claiming it ‘didn’t fit the format’ (Does that sound like a familiar excuse?) . nevertheless the word got out thanks to the accompanying video.
After Eazy E’s death there was another far-reaching project called America is Dying Slowly (AIDS) It featured everyone from Wu-Tang Clan to Organized Konfusion to 8 Ball and MJG to the Goodie Mob. This was by far one of the best socially conscious albums to ever come out. many of the artists covered a variety of themes associated with AIDs thus forever smashing any myths and misconceptions. The subject matter ranged from unprotected sex, to tainted blood transfusions to the fast life of players and the consequences they might suffer. Many people got with the flavor of that album, even though many our urban stations ignored it even with such high profile groups.
Oakland artists the Conscious Daughters did an icredible song called ‘All Caught Up’ which took the HIV/ AIDs issue head on..
Salt-N-Pepa did a song/PSA on their album ‘Very Necessary ‘
In recent years we’ve seen artists like Lil B step up and bring impactful messages with landmark songs like ‘I Got Aids‘. The song starts out with a telephone call from a guy stunned about the results his HIV results. He calls his girlfriend to share the news and to see if she knows anything about how or why he has it.
Today as we acknowledge World AIDs Day its important to take along hard look at ourselves, our community and our culture. At a date and time where there are so many videos oozing with scantily clad women oozing with sex, we have to be cognizant of the type of message we convey to younger cats as well as ourselves. Many of us portray an air that suggests it’s ok for us to creep around and keep one, two or three females on the side while we have our ‘main honey at the crib. We mess around and slip up just once and boom-HIV and then AIDS.
The other sad secret we never want to talk about is what happens to so many us behind the walls inside prison. There’s some ill things like rapes taking place and when cats get out they inadvertently spread the disease not realizing they have been infected. Many of us act like there is no longer a risk in having sex. Many of us have been so into getting our groove on that we have all but forgotten Eazy E’s final words. At the time of his death he was the ultimate mack.. How soon we forget our history.
In any case its up to us brothas to do the right thing. lets keep ourselves informed.. Lets help with the fight to find a cure. Lets get tested and be honest with ourselves. Finally lets set an example for our seeds as well as ourselves and behave responsibly. The rapid spread of this disease in our community is inexcusable and well within our reach and preventing. Hopefully brothas will take this to heart and step up their game. and hold it down.. Keep HIV and AIDS at bay and don’t let Eazy E’s death be something that happen in vain..
Below are some crucial facts that we should all know about HIV and AIDs.. This comes from the site Beyond the Odds which is spearheaded by my Hard Knock Radio co-host Anita Johnson.
Facts About HIV and AIDs Every One Hip Hop Head Should Know
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes*. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:
Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases.
Syndrome means a group of health problems that make up a disease.
AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If you get infected with HIV, your body will try to fight the infection. It will make “antibodies,” – (chemicals that are part of the immune system that recognize invaders like bacteria and viruses and mobilize the body’s attempt to fight infection special molecules to fight HIV.
A blood test for HIV looks for these antibodies. If you have them in your blood, it means that you have HIV infection. People who have the HIV antibodies are called “HIV-Positive.”
Being HIV-positive, or having HIV disease, is not the same as having AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but don’t get sick for many years. As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don’t cause any problems can make you very sick if your immune system is damaged. These are called “opportunistic infections.”
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid or breastmilk from an HIV-positive person enters the body of an HIV-negative person. HIV can enter the body through a vein, the lining of the anus or rectum, the lining of the vagina and/or cervix, the opening to the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes — such as the eyes or inside of the nose — or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
Worldwide, the most common way that HIV is transmitted is through sexual transmission, including anal, vaginal or oral sex with an HIV-positive person. HIV also can be transmitted by sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is HIV-positive, or from an HIV-positive woman to her infant before or during birth or through breastfeeding after birth. HIV also can be transmitted through receipt of infected blood or blood clotting factors.
Does having HIV mean you’ll die?
Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the virus that causes AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many opportunistic infections that make people sick can be controlled, prevented or eliminated. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life for people living with AIDS. Bottom line, HIV/AIDS is not the same death sentence it was say 25 years ago. People are living long healthy lives with HIV and AIDS. The sooner you start to become aware and the more you know about the “virus” the better your chances are delaying the effects of the disease.
Do I have to tell everyone that I’m HIV positive?
No. Who you tell your status is your own business. They only people that need to tell are anyone you are going to have unprotected sex with. Not disclosing your status is punishable by law. Any person who exposes another to HIV by engaging in unprotected sexual activity is guilty of a felony, when the infected person: 1) knows he/she is infected; 2) has not disclosed his/her HIV-positive status; and 3) acts with the intent to infect the other person with HIV. The felony charge is punishable in the state prison for three, five, or eight years.
How do I protect myself and my partner from contracting HIV?
Getting tested, knowing your status and limiting risk-factors for contracting the virus like sharing needles or having unprotected sex with other people, is the best way to protect yourself and your partner. Many health advocates suggest getting tested at least 3 to 4 times a year and more depending on the person’s sexual behaviors.
Can you tell someone is HIV positive just by looking at them?
No. A person living with HIV may look healthy and feel good just like you. A blood test is the only way a person can find out if he or she is infected with HIV.