After being a fixture of the Southern hip-hop scene for nearly three decades, Houston rap legend Scarface put out an unusual plea on Twitter that highlighted just how bad America’s healthcare crisis has become and why Kanye’s arguments for ownership in the music business might not be so far-fetched, after all. “I need a kidney y’all any volunteers?” Scarface appealed to his followers. “B+ blood type.” His request prompted an outpouring of well-wishes and supportive messages and even some donor offers but also showed just how bad things are for anyone without access to government-provided care.
By the way, that’s one thing Scarface has in common with Donald Trump: Both apparently contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus and while Trump tried to downplay the virus’ severity and effect on his health, ‘Face was much more honest in his description of its effects when he revealed his diagnosis in April. “I’ve been to the point where I just felt like I was going to die, bro,” he admitted. “I threw up so much until it was just hot sauce. Like your gasses and the sh*t in your stomach, your acids. I didn’t have no food in my stomach.” It was at this time he also revealed he had kidney failure and was receiving dialysis treatment. However, his condition has apparently progressed to the point that only a transplant can save a hip-hop hometown hero.
If I may get up on my soapbox here for a second, this is exactly why we need universal healthcare. Scarface has undoubtedly made plenty of money over the course of his 30-year career, but the out-of-pocket expense of these sorts of treatments can deplete anyone’s savings. Also, it’s super unlikely that the average person could put out a call for help on Twitter and expect such a strong response that comes from having millions of fans from that long career. And the way the music industry pays artists means that Scarface may not have quite the financial reserves that would allow him to outlast both COVID-19 and kidney failure — especially without being able to tour this year (as tours are where the majority of artists make the majority of their money). A lot of reform is needed, which is why you — yes, you — need to vote for candidates in this year’s election who support those reforms, all the way down the ballot to your local leaders. You may not think it will help, but progress is slow and hard, and you have to start somewhere.