In an interview today with HipHopDX, Masta Ace revealed that he has been in a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), "a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves." The Brooklyn rapper was diagnosed with the disease in 2000 after suffering symptoms such as loss of vision or the sensation that parts of his body had fallen asleep (like the "pins and needles" one gets when lying on a body part for too long) even though he was standing up. From the article:
Masta Ace was prescribed to have a weekly injection of Avonex. The medicine, which he is supposed to take for the rest of his life, provides 'a reduced risk of disability progression, … fewer exacerbations, and … a reduction in number and size of active lesions in the brain (as shown on MRI) when compared with the group taking a placebo,' according to nationalmssociety.org.
Around the time he first got on the medicine, Masta Ace had some significant MS-related episodes. The most striking took place when he was driving in New York from Greenwich Village back to his native Brooklyn. Both of his arms and legs went completely numb. Masta Ace pulled over and sat in his car with his wife until the symptoms subsided.
Masta Ace had not put out an album since 1995’s Sittin’ On Chrome. It was nearly six years later and he did not want to announce that he had MS.
'I wasn’t really ready for people to be hitting me with the, "Ah, that’s terrible,"' Masta Ace says. “I didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want the pity. I didn’t want any of that. I basically took it as a setback and a sign that it was time to reenergize and just really, really go in.'
Sittin’ On Chrome, his third album, was Masta Ace’s most commercially successful LP. But its West Coast-leaning sound and car-centric themes and videos left many of his fans unsatisfied, especially those in New York.
'When I got that diagnosis, I had been kinda at a crossroads careerwise where I kinda felt like I was done,' Masta Ace says. 'That diagnosis kind of reenergized me because it made me feel like I didn’t know what my quality of life was going to be like down the road and if I was going to really do this, then I really needed to make my last couple artistic statements.'
Read the rest of the moving article here.