Benefit & Pension Funds of Hospital & Health Care Employees, Philadelphia & VicinityBenefit & Pension Funds of Hospital & Health Care Employees, Philadelphia & Vicinity

Healthy Heart Month – Math teacher to hip-hop artist, health advocate

American Heart Association

February is Healthy Heart Month

Dee-1, David Augustine

Dee-1, David Augustine


Before he became hip-hop artist Dee-1, David Augustine was on the school chess team. He played basketball and his favorite subject was math.

“I wasn’t a performer by any means,” he said. “I really didn’t even like being the center of attention.”

He turned to music during what he calls “the roughest time of my life.”

He had just started college at Louisiana State University when a close friend was murdered. Having grown up in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, his family struggled to recover after Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t make the university basketball team, and he had his first heartbreak.

Dee-1 struggled to process one blow after another. So he channeled his emotions into music, and by the time he graduated with a business degree in 2009, creating hip-hop music was a passion.

He took a job as a math teacher at a Baton Rouge middle school, but performed at small clubs on the side. That’s where he met Dr. Rani Whitfield, a local family doctor who shared his love of music.

Dee-1 and Whitfield, who goes by “Tha Hip Hop Doc,” began creating songs that focused on health, including obesity, heart disease, drinking and driving and conflict resolution.

“I just felt these were issues that we shouldn’t keep quiet about, because they affect us,” said Dee-1, who is now 26. A Twitter chat with Dee-1, Whitfield and nurse Alice Benjamin is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 12 p.m. Central time.

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