It’s no secret that heart disease is a major problem within the Black community. In fact, per the CDC, Black adults in the U.S. are twice as likely to succumb to heart disease than our white counterparts—and our risk of death from a stroke is even higher. Thankfully, one of the best ways to combat this condition—aside from a healthy diet and eliminating cigarettes—is to exercise or move around; which is exactly why “The Magnificent” DJ Jazzy Jeff has partnered with the CDC Foundation to launch “Live to the Beat,” a national cardiovascular disease prevention campaign that was created for the Black community, by the Black community.
In speaking with The Root, the legendary turntable assassin revealed that it was his own bout with COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic that not only made him take his own health more seriously, but gave him a deeper understanding of the healing power of music.
“I was one of the early victims of COVID,” he began. “I was very close to not being here. So it made me pay more attention to [my health] and wanting to be here for the long haul. When I started livestreaming [my DJ sets], it was for my own sanity. It was, ‘Let me play some music for some people.’ Never realizing that you’re playing music for 40, 50 thousand people. You’re affecting people’s moods [...] and in playing music for them, I realized that it was a very good healing property. So just playing music and [building] community started me down this path of realizing how important music is for not only our mental health, but our physical health.”
It was during this time that the CDC reached out to the former The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star about joining forces for the greater good.
“The CDC came and said they were doing this campaign on heart health,” Jeff told The Root. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God! That’s it!’ Because this is people dancing. This is people having a good time. A lot of times people don’t want to exercise or they’re not motivated to exercise. Everybody’s motivated to dance, especially when you hear your favorite song, right? So it’s really about if you want to get those steps in, sometimes you have to give people creative ways. And if we can make people get those small steps in by just dancing and having a good time, that’s a point in the right direction.”
And to help kick off the “Live to the Beat” campaign, Jeff will be hosting a virtual dance party on Wednesday to help Black folks and other lovers of great music “start moving to a healthier beat.”
“I’m so happy to be partnered with the CDC on this,” Jeff said. “I’ll be playing a little bit more uptempo music, and we’re going to be dancing, playing a whole bunch of your favorites in the middle of the day. [...] Listen, we might need to do this every day. We might need to take that hour-long break while you eating and listening to some music. [It’ll] serve two purposes: You getting it through the music and you’re actually doing something good for your health.”
Live to the Beat’s Dance Party with DJ Jazzy Jeff begins Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET, and is available on his Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch pages. For more info on Live to the Beat, visit the campaign’s official website.