“The asthma forced me to really go against the issue and push the envelope in terms of breath control and doing runs that I wouldn’t probably try if I didn’t have asthma. If I didn’t have asthma, I’d probably rhyme like the Hip Hop rock-the-spot [style]. But the fact that that shit is an element that I was fighting against, I was like, ‘Fuck that, let me make that battle, lyrically [speaking].’” -Pharoahe Monch
Since recently releasing his latest album W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), Queens rapper Pharoahe Monch spoke about his battles with asthma recently, making the gas mask on his album cover somewhat ironic. Other rappers suffer or have suffered without the condition like Tyler, the Creator and the Notorious B.I.G.. So what exactly is asthma?
“Asthma is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
During an asthma episode, the airways in your lungs get swollen. Your chest feels tight. You may cough, wheeze, or have trouble breathing. This happens when your lungs are exposed to something – a trigger- to which your lungs react. The swelling in your lungs can be occurring slowly, even if you don’t realize it is happening.” -New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene
Asthma is a common disease among New York City’s children and adults, affecting many of the or any city’s poor, Black, and Latino residents. East Harlem and the South Bronx have higher asthma rates among children than most of the the rest of the nation. These children face greater barriers to obtaining health care services.
Hay fever and allergies can trigger asthma attacks in children and adults. Other environmental triggers include cockroaches and mice, other indoor allergens, outdoor environmental irritants (like traffic exhaust), and/or environmental tobacco smoke; underlying changes in the immune systems of children.