"Hip-hop is helping to get the country healthy," Ullman tells Billboard. "I'm excited that Feel Rich was able to document the urban wellness movement that is spreading across the country to put a spotlight on this growing movement. Quincy and I hope that this film inspires more people to start living a healthier life and to motivate young entrepreneurs to create health and wellness businesses in the community."
Slim Thug harps on that note of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. "If I'm going to call myself a hustler and live my best life, then it's important that i take care of myself," the rapper says.
Milton Harris, HUSLfit CEO and Slim Thug's trainer, adds, "The documentary is important to me because it hits so close to home. I've lost my dad as well as uncles to diseases that could've been prevented just by living a healthy lifestyle. I'm excited that Feel Rich was able to capture our movement in Houston and included us in this important documentary."
Below, catch an exclusive clip from the Feel Rich documentary followed by a Q&A with Jones III on how he hopes the project will remix perspectives on hip-hop's relationship with health and wellness.
How did health and wellness become a part of your everyday life?
My mom was a vegetarian and my father practiced yoga so, between the two of them, I was introduced to holistic health pretty early on in life. When my mom used to cook, she would always tell me what was in each ingredient -- in the broccoli, you get a lot of Vitamin C -- so I was always very conscious of that. And later in life, when I was five or six, whenever I wanted ice cream, she would make me drink carrot juice before I had the ice cream. It conditioned me so it's always been a part of my life. Even when I came into hip-hop when I had a production company and was working with Tupac and everybody, I would always bring carrot juice and health products to the studio so it's always been something that I've been passionate about sharing with my friends as well.
Did your healthy habits rub off on the people that you worked with in hip-hop? I can imagine Tupac chugging carrot juice.
[Laughs] In some instances, it did. I would always bring healthier foods to the studio and at times, I would bring Tupac food as well. So, definitely.
How did you meet Shawn Ullman, CEO of Feel Rich?
I met Shawn Ullman when I had my production company, QD3 Entertainment, where we did a lot of music documentaries about artists like Tupac, Lil Wayne and so forth. So we worked together on a bunch of deals back in the day -- he was doing business development for my company so that's how we connected. That was probably back in 2004, 2005.
How was Feel Rich born?
Both of us felt like we wanted to do something that was positive and we saw the influence that people like Jay Z and 50 Cent had when they'd wear a T-shirt in a music video, then the next day -- without telling anybody to buy it -- kids would go on eBay to find the t-shirts; their influence is huge. We were like, how can we use that influence in a more meaningful way? So that's kind of how the Feel Rich concept came about. And it's also named after Shawn's parents, Phyllis and Richard.
Why did you want to spotlight hip-hop's relationship with health and wellness?
When you look into urban communities like Compton and Watts and the Bronx and so forth, over 50 percent of those kids are raised by single mothers. I think that rappers take on an exaggerated role because a lot of kids look to them for cues on how to be a man. In their father's absence, rappers take on this huge role. With that influence, we can make huge change if we're talking about the right topics. If somebody like The Game is talking about drinking carrot juice or taking care of themselves in the health sense, I think that's gonna carry a lot of weight with the young males that need that message -- they'll look to him for that type of advice. I've been working with rappers my whole life and what blew me away with this documentary, you're having 10 or 15 of the most prominent people in the game talking about the same thing, which is health and how much it means to them.
What surprised you the most about the people you worked with for this documentary?
I think what surprised me the most was how engaged they were. There was one time where we were sitting with [basketball star] Metta World Peace and he was like I got 20 minutes so we gotta do this quick. As soon as we started talking about meditation and yoga, he canceled his next meeting because he was so passionate about it. The thing I think people don't realize is behind closed doors, these guys are hyper-passionate about it but it's very rare to get asked to talk about it. We wanted to be a platform where this is the focus. People see the music videos and I think it's misleading because behind closed doors, they're not drinking 40s all day long -- they're drinking carrot juice, fasting and running and taking care of their bodies, so we just want to show that so people can take after that as well.
How did you discover rappers' healthy habits?
It's funny because a lot of my positive mentors in my life, people that got me into reading books and becoming healthier was rappers. Ice Cube was a very positive influence on me, LL Cool J was big in exercising and made me healthy, and they made a huge impact on my life, so I kind of wanted to turn it around and give it to the public.
What was the best piece of fitness advice that they gave you?
That it's easy. It's not that hard, as long as you're mindful of it. Fat Joe lost 120 pounds or something like that by just starting to walk and cutting like one or two ingredients out of his food. He stopped ordering starch and just started walking and that alone changed his physique in a big way. He had never been a really healthy person and then a lot of his friends were passing away, like Big Pun, from being obese and he decided he wanted to be around for his kids and change his lifestyle. Now, when you talk to Fat Joe, he's like the beacon of health. He sounds like an expert -- he's talking about calories and knows every aspect of it. These guys have really soaked it all up and they're the perfect mouthpiece for the message.
Why was it important to you to show your own father, Quincy Jones' health struggles in the documentary?
People think that in order to eat healthy and to think about your health, you have to be wealthy and have access to things that maybe the average man or woman doesn't. Having my dad in there saying what everybody else is saying, it's a human struggle. Preventive health, in most cases, is free and cheaper than what they're doing now. There's a big misconception that it's more expensive to eat healthy. If you look in the stores, the cheapest items are the raw vegetables. You can get a bundle of kale for a dollar and it's organic at Whole Foods but you can't get any meat item for a dollar. We just wanted to dispel the myth going in both directions.
What do you hope viewers, especially those who may not be living their healthiest lives, take away from the film?
For two years, we went all over America and explored health as it relates to the urban community. And I think the biggest takeaway that I would hope people get from this is that at the end of the film, the light bulb goes off [and viewers think] this is a lot easier than they thought and they're inspired to do this because they can relate to something they see in the movie. That they realize like this is something they never thought about consciously, but now that they see all these people talking about -- they can try it and it actually feels obtainable.
That's pretty much the message you walk away with: You realize that if you're conscious of your health and you know a few basic rules about about how healthy eating works, it's very easy, it's very simple and it doesn't take as much as people think. I think a lot of people are intimidated by the process of becoming healthier when they really shouldn't be. If it's anything they should take away, it's that and that it's okay to love and take care of yourself. I think people get the wrong impression when they see rappers in their music videos and they're not necessarily talking about these topics so putting it all in one film is going to have a big effect.
Feel Rich: Health is the New Wealth drops on Netflix of May 23.