When Rani Whitfield used to DJ parties in high school and college, he recalls “how effective music was in bringing people together.”

Now as Tha’ Hip Hop Doc (aka H2D), the Baton Rouge, La.-based physician is using spoken word/rap to educate youth about health.

“I’d been wanting to do something like this for a while,” the Meharry Medical College graduate tells Billboard. “Too many young people are dying of preventable and treatable illnesses like diabetes, HIV/AIDS and high blood pressure.”

By 2005, Whitfield had launched h2doc.com and the comic book series “The Legion of Health,” starring a group of super-human health advocates. But it was patient Lil Boosie who ultimately inspired Whitfield to add a CD to his hip-hop culture-meets-health campaign. The Baton Rouge artist is a Type 1 diabetic who must inject himself with insulin several times per day.

Teaming with schoolteacher David Augustine (aka Dee 1), the bass-playing Whitfield wrote and recorded “Tha’ Hip Hop Doc Presents State of Emergency” ($10). Released in late 2008, the CD examines health issues like high cholesterol (“Walk Tha Walk”) and obesity (“Couch Potato”).

Whitfield will take his show on the road in April when he embarks on a college tour in conjunction with the American Heart Assn., for which he is an ambassador. Then he will tackle the issues of drinking and drugs on his next CD.