Consequence held an album listening party via Zoom for his forthcoming Things Are Different Now EP on Monday (September 28). At the top of the event, the A Tribe Called Quest affiliate (and Q-Tip’s cousin) revealed he’d been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder lupus in June.
At first, Cons — who already had Type II diabetes — says he couldn’t figure out what was going on with his health and feared it was COVID-19. But instead, he was told he had the same disease the legendary producer J Dilla battled prior to his 2006 death.
As Cons noted during the listening event, it’s “God’s will” he’s still here and he had to find a way to pick himself up off the couch and “get back to being Consequence.” His 9-year-old son Caiden Mills, who appears on the song “Together,” encouraged Cons to keep going.
“He’s really my blessing from God,” he told HipHopDX. “When it got stupid for me, he was right here like, ‘Yo, come on, you just gotta get your muscles back. Come on daddy, you can do it.’ He’s my little superstar … he definitely re-charged the Tesla for me.”
The EP also features former Profile Records rapper, fellow Queens native and family friend Sweet Tee on the album opener “The Bass,” which includes a sample of her 1986 hit “It’s My Beat” featuring DJ Jazzy Joyce. But the song “Lost In A Million” is where Cons explains how he ultimately figured out he had lupus.
“Around October 2019, I was overseeing the mixes for Kanye’s Jesus Is King album and we stayed up wild late,” he said. “We was doing these listening sessions where we go to Detroit, Jamaica, taking wild flights. On the last flight, I got back to New York and then I shot a video for ‘Complex Con.’ Somewhere between the flight and Caiden had actually jumped on my back, I had developed a crink in my neck, which I thought would go away in a finger snap.”
But Cons was wrong — the pain stuck around so he sought medical attention from his primary physician. They gave Cons some muscle relaxers, which only exacerbated the issue. Soon, it was spreading inflammation throughout his entire body.
“I was already Type II diabetic with no diabetes symptoms,” he explains. “I was subject to anything autoimmune-related. I went to Paris — I don’t want this to sound like rich n-gga problems because I almost died — but I’m flying from one jet from Los Angeles to Paris and Paris to Los Angeles, and I get to L.A. and I can’t fucking move. So I go to urgent care — and this is when COVID was first shaking — so I was was like, ‘Fuck, maybe I got COVID.’
“I’m in the urgent care and the lady is like I don’t know if we need to do the q-tip or not, so I’m like, ‘Let’s not do it.’ I went back to New York and stayed in the crib for like three weeks. Then the quarantine was actually in effect, and I started getting worse and worse and worse. I actually gotta thank Kim Kardashian ’cause it got the point I called Ye and he had her call me, and they set me up with an urgent care in Uptown ’cause it was not going away.”
From there, Consequence was given a swab test and doctors discovered he had lupus, something he describes as “your whole body being on fire.”
“All my cells were on fire and that’s why I couldn’t move and shit,” he adds. “I was fucked up, never in my life fucked up like this. But God’s will is God’s will. Eventually, it was discovered what it was. Literally, I’m so fucking crazy I flew to Wyoming at 107 pounds.
“I put a picture up of me and Caiden’s birthday party and I was probably like a buck-fourteen, but I was happy because I worked to get to that because I got hit with a double whammy. My diabetes went from Type II to Type 1 with the lupus ’cause I had to take steroid that runs your sugar up. Because I didn’t know none of this shit, I was still eating the same shit and it was actually melting from the inside.”
Cons admits he lost his voice for two months and could only speak in a faint, raspy whisper. The uncertainly of his condition had him facing death for the first time in a very real way. He admits it temporarily stripped away his courage and bravado, and he would often find himself crying in the doctor’s office at the thought of having to leave his son.
Cons’ situation is akin to both Dilla (who suffered from lupus until his death in 2006) and Tribe’s Phife Dawg (who died in 2016 from diabetes complications). Cons and Phife were closed friends and he got the Type II diabetes diagnosis only one year after Phife passed.
“I have what Dilla had and what Phife had as a combo Happy Meal [laughs],” he says. “To be honest with you, I’m learning every day. I didn’t even know I would get my way back. I didn’t know I would get my strength back at all. So I’m definitely in a space where I’m taking everything literally a step at a time, a day at a time. I don’t know where their situations went wrong. I’m assuming a lot of it is diet ’cause I know with me, I’ve to reformulate how I eat about four times in the last two months. I’m fine ’cause I went through the adjustment period, but when I was first going through everything, it was like coming at me 100 miles per hour. I’m not going to lie, it was very, very difficult. It still is difficult.”
Very few people knew what Cons was going through behind the scenes but when he posted that Instagram photo of himself with his son in August and was ridiculed for his appearance, or as he says, “body shamed,” it lit a fire.
He was able to rise above the criticism and says he’s gained about 20 or 25 pounds since then. For now, he’s taking his medications, hitting the gym and focusing on music. The Things Are Different Now EP is expected to arrive on October 23.