Let’s Talk About Salt
Hip Hop Public Health, the New York City-based nonprofit striving to achieve health equity by harnessing the transformative power of music, art, and science, held its virtual Remixing Public Health Gala live on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, where over five hundred guests came together to celebrate the work they have been doing to inspire behavior change and improve health literacy for over fifteen years.
Attendees of the private event witnessed the premiere of “Let’s Talk About Salt” – a boldly youthful, creative and educational animated music video PSA starring honoree, Grammy®-winning Cheryl “Salt” James. “When blessed with a platform, you’ve got to use it for his glory and spread the word, whether it’s for your mental, physical or spiritual health,” remarked the pioneering MC after being recognized for her commitment to improving the lives of young people and their families.
Hip Hop Public Health was inspired to remix Salt-N-Pepa’s 1991 global hit, “Let’s Talk About Sex” which samples Staple Singers’ 1972 civil rights anthem, “I’ll Take You There” because it opened up conversations, influenced behavior change and increased awareness about the AIDS pandemic at the time, saving millions of lives globally. The nonprofit’s 2020 rendition, funded in part through the American Heart Association’s New York City Community Impact Grant, encourages hypertension prevention by teaching young people about healthy eating and salt consumption with a visually stimulating music video.
A multidisciplinary group of artists, doctors, public health experts, producers and designers were engaged to create the song and animated music video which was developed by an all-women team of designers from Mylo the Cat and Cartuna.
Multi-platinum composer Q. Worthy co-wrote the song with Stephanie Chambers and co-produced it with Jose Sanchez. The track was remixed by producer, DJ, percussionist and BYLR Radio Station co-founder, Dee Wiz. Hip Hop Public Health founder and renowned neurologist, Dr. Olajide Williams, hypertension expert Dr. Andrew Moran from the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and board member Dr. Olugbenga Ogedegbe from New York University’s School of Medicine also weighed in with medical oversight.
The music video, based on Hip Hop Public Health’s Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model is now cataloged with over 140 free educational resources like Hip Hop Stroke and the Songs for a Healthier America album which was part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. The 19-song album was a collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America and features artists like Ariana Grande, Travis Barker and Ashanti.
Jordin Sparks, Ashanti, James “Jimmy” Maynes and members of En Vogue and SWV appeared, surprising Salt with congratulatory remarks surrounding her charge to unify communities and help individuals rethink wellness during the Remixing Public Health Gala.
“What a great honor it is to be recognized by Hip Hop Public Health, an organization that I deeply respect and admire for their creative and engaging approach to health literacy. With kids ages 2 to 19 consuming about twice the recommended amount of salt every day, the “Let’s Talk About Salt” video is an outstanding example of their critically important work,” said Honoree and President of the American Heart Association, Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., MS, FAHA, FAAN who is also a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University New York and an attending neurologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Honorees included the trio of executives who supported the development and amplification of Hip Hop Public Health’s trilogy of COVID-19-related music videos — “20 Seconds or More” “20 Segundos o Más” and “Behind the Mask.” Director of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Patricia Doykos, Ph.D., Senior Partner at Finn Partners, Helen Shelton and Partner at 40 West Advisors, Melinda Gould were instrumental in bringing forth these resources which have now amassed over 3 million streams. Dr. Melony Samuels, the Founder and Executive Director of The Campaign Against Hunger was also recognized for her transformative generosity and anti-poverty mission which has spanned over decades and fed hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
Advisory Board member of Hip Hop Public Health, Grammy®-winning Darryl DMC McDaniels from Run DMC and Public Enemy frontman, Chuck D. grabbed the mic as witnesses, reminding all of the power of hip-hop during the ceremony.
“At this moment, as we face a dual pandemic: a public health crisis coupled with systemic racial injustice, we are reminded why our work is so important and why Hip Hop Public Health was born,” said Dr. Olajide Williams. He co-founded the nonprofit in 2006 with legendary artist, Doug E. Fresh who hosted the Gala and emphasized: “We must emerge from this moment with supporters like you, knowing that we did everything we could to help close the disparity gaps and save lives.”
The program underscored the power of intergenerational unity during an insightful conversation between two social impact leaders, 93-year old author-farmer-teacher known as the nation’s foremost Juneteenth holiday ambassador, Ms. Opal Lee and rising hip-hop star, 23-year old Niko Brim. Proceeds from the sale of their Juneteenth sneaker recently sold during Sotheby’s first-ever hip-hop auction and raised funds for Hip Hop Public Health.
The Gala’s silent auction lot featured unique products and experiences, including a private cooking class with rap icon Coolio and an exclusive original silkscreen print of Salt-N-Pepa by renowned hip-hop photographer, Janette Beckman. The organization kept the celebration going by opening up their after-party to the public and supporters enjoyed a live music set by veteran DJ and Hip Hop Public Health ambassador, DJ Flo.
“Whether it’s finding ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or teaching families how to stay active, eat healthy and understand the symptoms of stroke, our organization’s focus is to empower communities of color. At the same time, we advocate for the eradication of underlying conditions of social and structural inequalities by drawing attention to them,” said Hip Hop Public Health’s CEO & Executive Director, Lori Rose Benson.
The Remixing Public Health Gala, produced by Growth for Good, Blurred Vision Entertainment and Pro Sho Sound was made possible by community supporters and stakeholders who are dedicated to empowering communities and building health equity across the public and private sectors. To donate or learn more about Hip Hop Public Health’s Gala and approach to developing standards-based, culturally tailored resources grounded in evidence-based research, visit http://www.hhph.org and follow on them on social media at @hhphorg.
About Hip Hop Public Health:
Hip Hop Public Health is an internationally recognized organization that creates and implements multimedia public health and education interventions designed to improve health literacy, inspire behavior change, and promote health equity. Based in New York City, Hip Hop Public Health was founded in Harlem in 2006 with the mission to empower youth and families around the country – and the globe— with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions. Through a research-driven developmental process created by Columbia University Neurologist Dr. Olajide Williams (a.k.a. the “Hip Hop Doc”), Hip Hop Public Health works with socially conscious artists and public health experts to create scalable, highly engaging, culturally relevant music and multimedia “edutainment” tools.
The Hip Hop Public Health team, led by physical education veteran and public health leader, Lori Rose Benson, is a collective comprised of not only health and education professionals (including nutritionists, public health researchers, teachers, physicians, behavioral scientists, and a student advisory board), but also proven-successful multimedia professionals and A-list iconic rap stars and pop artists including Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, DMC of Run DMC, Ashanti, Jordin Sparks, as well children’s television writers/producers (formerly of Sesame Street). All of Hip Hop Public Health’s music, videos, comic books, video games, and guidance documents are available for free and can be accessed on its online resource repository.
Let’s Talk About Salt