In a few weeks the dawn of a new year will once again bring about the annual pledges made by couch potatoes nationwide to eat healthier and get in shape. One man who won’t need to make an empty promise to get off his duff is Lil Cease. Lifelong friend of The Notorious B.I.G., and loyal member of Biggie’s crew Junior M.A.F.I.A., Cease has added a new talent to his repertoire in addition to emcee, that of fitness guru.
“Just trying to do something positive, just trying to motivate people to get right,” Cease explained to HipHopDX last week is what motivated him to motivate others to improve their physical well-being. “That’s been my next best thing besides the music thing I caught my hands onto.”
Beginning this past summer, trailers for a fitness DVD helmed by Cease began popping up on YouTube. In the clips, a now diesel-looking Lil Cease is shown shopping for healthy food alternatives, making protein shakes, engaging in grueling workouts (that include doing pull-ups with multiple weight plates tied to a lifting belt, and doing push-ups while balanced on four fitness balls), and instructing the viewer on how they can do the same to live a healthier lifestyle.
Due next month, Cease’s HardBody Fitness DVD is full of remarkably motivational tutorials. Watching the formerly chubby sidekick to B.I.G. gut out workouts that must leave even seasoned gym rats in awe is enough to drive the average sedentary computer jockey to make a change.
Cease made his own change towards a healthier eating and exercise-driven life about two years ago when the short statured rap star swelled to 210 pounds, the heaviest he has ever been.
“Just to be healthy,” Cease replied when asked what the catalyst was that drove him to drop the extra pounds. “I just wanted to feel good…I started doing it, [and] as I started seeing the results happen I got into it more and more…So I’m just sharing everything that works for me, just [putting] it out there for people so they get inspired to get in shape and work out.”
Fears of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes spurred Cease’s personal transformation. Unfortunately, those fears don’t appear to be shared by the Hip Hop community at large, even as within just the past 15 months, Pimp C, Big Moe, and MC Breed have all lost their lives at least in part due to not managing their health.
Thankfully, there are those in the Hip Hop community who are setting an example for their fans to follow on how to live healthier. Bad Boy South’s Gorilla Zoe began his 12-week/40-pound weight loss challenge this month [click to read]. And well documented for the past ten weeks via his vlogs has been the weight loss quest of another Hip Hop heavyweight also determined to drop 40 pounds in three months.
“I seen what Nore doing,” said Lil Cease. “I like what Nore doing [click to watch]. He look like he coming down [in weight]. He doing something good [for] himself. That’s kinda like what’s happening right now. Everybody seeing how important it is to be in shape and to be healthy.”
Nearly nine years since obesity led to the untimely passing of legendary lyricist Big Pun, some artists appear to finally be getting serious about their fitness. In addition to the weight loss challenges undertaken by Noreaga and Gorilla Zoe, Lil Cease can be seen working out with Cardan (formerly of Mase’s Harlem World collective) and Mobb Deep’s Havoc on the HardBody Fitness DVD.
Not just the title of his new health and fitness DVD, Cease is currently working to brand HardBody and fashion it into a record label, as well as other media ventures including a magazine, a radio broadcast (which can currently be heard via WBAI 99.5 FM in New York), and even a reality show.
“That’s something that’s in the works,” Cease’s HardBody business partner Mazi O revealed to DX. “We got meetings all week with one of the music channels...I don’t wanna give away too much, ‘cause we got a lot of jackers out there, but it’s gonna be more than just a regular reality show, something very unique that’s gonna incorporate the fitness but also gonna incorporate a lot of entertainment elements [in] it as well.”
Along with the proposed television project, the music arm of the HardBody Entertainment empire will unleash its first project, a compilation release, via Amalgam Digital (home to Joe Budden, Peedi Crakk, etc.) in early ’09.
Lil Cease has also begun work on his first solo album since his 1999 debut, The Wonderful World Of Cease A Leo, which will be the second release from HardBody, trailing the compilation and dropping sometime in the Spring/Summer.
And a third new music project is currently on Cease’s horizon: the first collection of all-new Junior M.A.F.I.A. material from the now Lil Kim-free lineup since 2005’s Riot Musik.
“Of course, that ain’t gonna never change,” Cease replied when asked if a new JM release is in his immediate future. “Mafia is still Mafia. Those my peoples. We working on the Mafia album right now. So [I’m still doing] records with Banger [f.k.a. Larceny], Klepto, Chico. We all still doing our thing. We just waiting ‘til after this Big movie come out, everything is kinda getting in place after that movie drop.”
Due in theaters next month, the long-awaited Biggie biopic may just ignite a revival of interest in all things B.I.G.-related. But that’s only likely to happen if first Notorious actually proves to be worth the price of admission.
“I think it’s gonna be worth more than your $10, if you a true-to-heart Big fan,” said Cease of the film. “They had the right people behind it. They made sure they took care of the right people to make the right people be involved with it…Derek Luke [who portrays Diddy], Gravy [who portrays Biggie], it’s a good look. I think a lot of people will be surprised [at] the route they went with it. And Gravy did a good job. I think a lot of people, once they see it, I think they gon’ have to sit down and give Gravy his props.”
But how did 18-year-old Marc John Jefferies (who coincidentally also portrayed a young 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin') perform in his portrayal of a teenage Lil Cease?
“Oh, he did wonderful!” Cease gushed when asked. “I sat on the set everyday with him. I rehearsed with him. We talked about things. We kicked it, on and off camera. I mean, he’s a full-blown actor. He been doing that since he was 3-years-old. He’s a professional when it come to that. And the only thing I had to do was just be around him, just give him a feel to [who] I was then. And he pulled it together. He did a good job, I can’t complain at all.”
With a slew of film, television and music projects on deck, 2009 is shaping up to be a rebirth of sorts for Lil Cease. And after a long road traveled to his new career destination of emcee/fitness guru, Cease is clearly ready to introduce the new-and-improved man he’s become to the masses.
“I’m not like that anymore, like how I used to be,” said the now 30-year-old of his formative years alongside Biggie that are shown in Notorious. “That was 15 years ago. But now it’s kinda dope to know that I’m still relevant, I’m still young, I can still make music and have somebody portray me in one of the biggest movies that’s about to go down in rap history. I’m like, ‘That’s whassup!’”
HardBody Fitness is due on DVD next month. For more information regarding Hard Body, visit http://www.myspace.com/hbdvd.