â€œThis is just a disgrace that Kool Herc has to negotiate over the details of his health care,â€ said Bill Adler, a former executive with Def Jam Records and a historian of the genre. â€œPeople who are not performers think that the musicians they love have a big house, lots of cars and more money than theyâ€™ll ever know. The reality is that the majority of people who choose a life in the arts make a tough economic choice. Theyâ€™re almost choosing voluntary poverty.â€
Last week, the internets were abuzz about Clive Campbell aka Kool Herc, known as the founding father of hip-hop, and his struggle to afford to pay the costs associated with his recent surgery for kidney stones which has left him to deal with pain and discomfort while raising funds for care. Jeff Chang, writer and author of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” set up a medical fund for people to donate through, and Herc now is using this spotlight to speak out on health care reform here in the US. Unlike Canada, Cuba, the U.K and other countries, health care is more of a luxury than a right as a citizen. Sure, there is Medicaid, but even it’s benefits aren’t available to all Americans.
For many musicians the situation is even more real as a large percentage don’t have health insurance and pay for procedures out of pocket if they can afford themâ€”because what we see on TV isn’t always real and the average rate for a live show is nothing compared to a 4-day stay in an average hospital. The entertainment community has the Motion Picture & Television Fund to help aging Hollywood starts with health care later in life, but nothing is in place for urban music, largely because there is no official union/organization for rappers/producers/singers like there are for actors and directors.
Even as Republicans try to repeal Obama’s much applauded health care reform legislation, the fact remains that we are far removed from the day of free health care in this country and medical debt is real, no matter who you are. Maybe if Rick Ross cashed in one of those Maybachs and Soldier Boy hocked one of those godawful chains, Herc could use the surplus to get his message across to the masses.
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