The Real Dope (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday March 11, 2008 11:02AM; Updated: Tuesday March 11, 2008 1:47PM
The music industry, hip-hop in particular, has glamorized the bad and buff body, which many kids embrace as a model. We didn't need the well-publicized probe into HGH and steroid prescriptions allegedly sent by an Orlando pharmacy to rappers to notice that Timbaland and 50 Cent are among the many rappers who are as powerfully muscled as blocking backs. Or as NBA superstars. "In the rap business," says one well-placed music-industry source, "guys look at an athlete like LeBron James, who's built like a tank, and they say, 'I want to look like LeBron.' " And that's how the record companies want them to look. The source confirms that steroid and HGH use "is absolutely happening in the [rap] industry" and puts the percentage of users -- an educated guess, he admits -- at "about one third." (Among the rappers named in the Orlando probe, Timbaland declined comment and 50 Cent did not return calls; as of Monday none had been charged with a crime.)
PED use in the hip-hop world is as much about preparing for the job as simply trying to look good. The beast is a ripped physique, one that plays well in music videos, and the beast must be fed. The source describes one artist whom MTV would not feature because he was overweight. He was told to get in the gym. And, if he's like many other artists, he'll get in the gym, but he'll also get on the juice. It's a cycle of narcissistic necessity.
Perhaps the most prominent name in the Orlando investigation was that of Mary J. Blige, an eight-time Grammy winner. Through a spokesman, Blige has denied steroid or HGH use. She did sing backup on a new Jay-Z song, You're Welcome, in which he addresses PEDs. Sort of. ("You would think I was on 'roids, I been hittin' so long, and I'm a big-headed boy/Nah we ain't on HGH, though I might pick up some weight when I'm runnin' through your state.") The 37-year-old Blige has the chiseled look that began taking over music back in the '80s. That's when rockers started showing up in tight-fitting T-shirts with buff bodies and arms of steel, and the Sweet Baby James paradigm, soulful and skinny, was pretty much chased off the stage.
Few segments of society depend as heavily on physical appearance as Hollywood, and it turns out that Sylvester Stallone, who may one day give us Rambo: The Assisted-Living Years, needed more than one-handed pushups and raw eggs at dawn to stay cut. Last May in Australia the 61-year-old Stallone paid $10,600 to settle a charge of criminal drug possession after he was found to have 48 vials of HGH and several vials of testosterone. Stallone has since acknowledged that he takes HGH and testosterone regularly, and legally. "Everyone over 40 years old would be wise to investigate it [HGH and testosterone use] because it increases the quality of your life," Stallone told Time last month.
Adds a prominent Hollywood plastic surgeon, who requested anonymity because he has many clients in the industry, "If you're an actor in Hollywood and you're over 40, you are doing HGH. Period. Why wouldn't you? It makes your skin look better, your hair, your fingernails, everything."