Multiple Sclerosis Helped Hip Hop Veteran Masta Ace Rededicate Himself To Music
As a hip hop veteran, Masta Ace certainly knows a thing or two about battling on the mic; however, these days, the Brooklyn-born MC takes on a different opponent: multiple sclerosis.
Masta Ace was diagnosed with the central nervous system disease in late 2000 but kept the news under wraps; for him, it was all about not being defeated. “I didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want the pity,” he has said.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the disease affects over 2 million people worldwide, with research showing that African Americans, particularly African-American women, are among the highest at risk for developing it.
BlackDoctor.org spoke with Masta Ace about living with the disease, how it gave him new creative energy and how it gave him a different approach to his health and overall lifestyle.
BlackDoctor.org: You were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis some time ago but it was only recently that you decided to publicly reveal it. Why has it now become time to share your story?
Masta Ace: After a while, I reached a point where it didn’t need to be a secret anymore. The reason I held back on sharing it with people is because I wanted to know that any acceptance I received professionally was going to be genuine and real and not based on the diagnosis or pity or somebody feeling bad for me. I wanted to know that any love I got from fans and people in the industry was genuine. Once I felt I had established genuine acceptance from people around me, I felt there was no reason to hide it anymore.
BlackDoctor.org: You’ve stated that pre-diagnosis, you experienced symptoms including a “pins and needles” feeling all over your body. Given this, what were your initial thoughts?
Masta Ace: Initially, I thought I had a pinched nerve or something like that. I was trying to do a self-diagnosis. I just didn’t think it was anything as serious as what it turned out to be.
BlackDoctor.org: As you know, there is a long-standing notion that men, especially Black men, are stubborn about going to the doctor. Was this applicable to you? Were you that dude?
Masta Ace: I was definitely that dude especially because I was uninsured and when you’re uninsured, the mentality is, “Well, unless I really need a doctor, I’m not going.” It was hesitation on that side of it and that’s always a bad thing because there actually is help out there. Once I realized that was the wrong approach and the wrong mentality, I did what I had to do. I changed my mentality about going to the doctor and taking care of myself.
BlackDoctor.org: How would you rate your health prior to the diagnosis?
Masta Ace: As far as I was concerned, my health was pretty good. I had put on a few pounds—my weight had gone up to where I was approaching 200 pounds. I had never been that heavy. Generally speaking, I felt I was relatively healthy and living a pretty normal life.