words by Jack Spencer
illustration by Bill Rebholz
Born and raised twenty minutes outside the city, in Yonkers, and reaching fame with 1990s Bad Boy Entertainment group The Lox, real name David Styles became interested in a more healthy lifestyle after he started frequenting a health bar ran by his current business partner Trinidadian “juice mixologist” Nyger Rollocks. He also became interested in spreading the “life” to the neighborhoods he sought to represent, where there aren’t usually fresh fruits and vegetables to be had for miles. He took to New York City, where, according to the NYC Health Department, 10 percent of adults are diabetic, with the stats only getting more bleak once controlled for race, class and neighborhood. We chopped it up with Styles P to hear about when he realized he needed to make a change, rappers’ roles in health education, and his favorite juice cleanses.
GR: When did you begin your transition into the juicing lifestyle?
About twelve years ago. Being in show business, traveling a lot, eating a lot of fast foods, I wanted to make balance in my life.
GR: Do you feel like you've been reaching that goal since opening the doors at Juices For Life?
It's really not about our stores, it's about juicing in general. Taking the knowledge that you get from the store and applying it to your life. We tell people to take the menu home and get their own juicer.
GR: Do you believe hip-hop has a role in health education?
That's why I'm doing what I do. It's important for the people, especially hip-hop artists, to spread some type of self-empowerment, and juicing up is self-empowerment.
GR: A lot of rappers engage in a health-conscious lifestyle but don't make it very public - why is that?
It ain't cool to them to spread that knowledge, it's more popular to talk about negative things than a fruit smoothie, know what I'm sayin’?
GR: Do you see that changing?
I think a lot of people are more health-conscious, especially in hip-hop. I consider myself a juicer for the people in the community, it's not really just about hip-hop people. To be a better human being, I try to spread the word out to the next person.
GR: What advice would you have for people that live in communities commonly referred to as "food deserts", that don't have easy access to healthy food and fresh produce?
If there is no supermarket, go to farmer's markets or things of that nature. Get yourself a juicer, get yourself a pot you can steam your vegetables in, try to grow food, bake it instead of frying... there's always a way. You're not just stuck with bad food. You might be stuck in a place with a lot of fast food spots, but you can hit the supermarket. Shop, do it yourself.
GR: What do you believe are the roots of health miseducation, specifically in the community you grew up in?
That lack of knowledge of where to go and actually get the produce and items needed. Not just the poor communities, really the whole country. We're one of the most obese countries period. You could even go into a community where there are wealthy people and you'll still see a bunch of obese people. That's just because fast food is in abundance.
GR: What juice cleanses do you recommend starting with?
We all have different taste buds so experiment a lot - experimentation leads to experience. It's just really about understanding what the juice will do for you. Give yourself a little more knowledge. We do bad shit to ourselves. You gotta do good shit for yourself to give back to yourself. Unless you're vegan, whatever you're eating, chicken, beef, whatever, you're eating dead meat. That's dead, you're eating but you're still putting death in your body. Fruits and vegetables are alive. Put some life back into your body.
GR: What other health practices do you recommend besides juicing?
A strong mind. Exercise that. We all get side-tracked and fall off the wagon but if you have a strong mind and a strong will it's easy to heal yourself. When your mind is strong it gives you the strength to move on, then juice when you’re moving forward.