When Rev. Run speaks (or tweets or emails or writes), we listen.
The front man of one of the most iconic hip-hop groups of all time (the legendary Run-DMC), he’s been sharing inspirational musings with us for years now, and he’s got a new one for us: if you’re 45 or over, get screened for diabetes.
Run—real name Joseph Simmons, Sr.—partnered up with diabetes healthcare company Novo Nordisk to help reach out to Black people 45 and up to ask their doctors to screen them for the disease that affects African-Americans disproportionately. He recently launched an awareness campaign, and as an ambassador for the company, Run launched a national public service announcement. He’s hosting a series of local events across the country, and will go hard on his Twitter account (@RevRunWisdom) to get the word out.
EBONY talks with the renowned rapper about health, relationships and whether or not we’ll ever see him on reality TV again.
EBONY: What made you want to get involved with this company and at this particular time?
Rev. Run: Well, my manager came to me with it—he knew my father had diabetes before he passed—and it affected me a lot seeing him go through it and having to deal. I realized I am at that sweet-spot age. I’m 48 years old now. At 45, an African-American is very high-risk, so I started to believe that my new calling from God was to talk to people about health. I speak so many words of wisdom about other subjects, I started getting on Twitter talking about, “heath is your first wealth.” And that’s where I’ve been at for a minute. I have friends like Randy Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal and my friend Anthony Anderson, they all have diabetes. I realized that people that look up to me and follow me on Twitter, they would probably benefit from hearing it from me. They trust me.
EBONY: So did you kick-start a renewed health regimen for yourself now that you’re 48?
RR: Yeah. I’ve been dealing with watching my weight and everything, but I’m definitely more focused now that I’m working with Novo Nordisk and this Ask.Screen.Know campaign. I’m more focused, I would say. I was focused before, but I’m very focused now, and I’m telling people to go to AskScreenKnow.com to find out some of the health things you can do to manage it if you have it, or know about it if you’re not sure.
EBONY: You’ve made a second career from doling out advice. Why do you think people listen to you the way we do?
RR: I believe I had an anointing. I started out, obviously, with the rap group Run-DMC, and I started going to church and looking up to various pastors and being mentored by Bishop Jordan. And next thing you know, it just came across me that I started writing words of wisdom and saying ’em on the radio. After I put the television show [Run’s House] on, with me giving words of wisdom at the end, Twitter came along, and it was like a perfect fit for me to put up words of wisdom. I get up in the morning, and I have something I’m dealing with, and I just give out the wisdom of how I’m dealing with things, so they’re so real. People can feel they’re not just stale words, they’re actually written the moment before I put ’em up. It’s not like I prepare words two days before, it’s at the moment. And more people say, “Wow, I’m dealing with this at this moment.” So my words are very prophetic in nature.
EBONY: And there’s more advice coming at the top of the year. You’re doing a book with Tyrese Gibson. Is the book more for men or for women?
RR: The book that I have coming, called Manology, is for both men and women. It’s me helping people to have a healthy relationship, a healthy marriage. I’m very excited about it.
EBONY: What made you guys want to put that together?
RR: Tyrese called me some years ago. I didn’t really know him, and I put up a word of wisdom and we got into a little argument. And I said, “you know, we should do a book called, I Beg to Differ.” Then we just came up with a book called Manology, so that he can talk about what he knows about his relationships as a single man, and [I can write] what I know about my relationship with my wife and kids. So it’ll bring people in that are married, and it’ll bring people in that are single and interested in becoming married.
EBONY: So your new platform is health all around then: spiritual, physical and emotional.
RR: Yes! Health is what I’m supposed to be dealing with right now, I’m pretty sure of it. I talk to God about it and I know that I’m in my right place as I’m talking to people about health is the first wealth.
EBONY: Will we see you back on reality TV?
RR: I’ll never say never, but… That was definitely a good period of time for my family and everything, and we never know. Nobody’s called me about it, and I think it did what it was supposed to do!