Busta Rhymes says health scare during ‘intimate interaction’ led to his weight-loss journey

Busta Rhymes in a pink and blue patterned blazer, chain and sunglasses smiling in front of a dark backdrop
Busta Rhymes discussed his weight loss and health issues in a recent interview with Men’s Health.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

For Busta Rhymes, “the most important thing in life is self preservation.”

“Mind, body, and spirit: make sure that you’re in the healthiest space that you can be in so that you can use your better sense of judgment at all times,” he told Men’s Health earlier this month. “Go to the gym, eat good, sleep — get it right cuz it’s important.”

In a far-ranging cover story for the magazine, the rap veteran recalled the chain of events that led to his drastic weight-loss journey and his efforts to stay in shape. The music star lost 100 pounds in recent years.

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After the 2014 death of his father, the “Touch It” rapper said he “drowned” himself in work and “kept drinking, smoking, eating bad” to deal with his grief. By 2019, the rapper weighed 340 pounds.


Because of his weight, Rhymes said he had “polyps on my vocal cords” and experienced difficulty breathing. He went on to share that the latter affected his performance in the bedroom.

“I was getting ready to have an intimate moment with my ex,” the rapper said. “I had a breathing issue after the intimate interaction.”

Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor George Smith Jr., explained that he “felt like I was having an asthma attack.” He left his ex in the bedroom while he tried to catch his breath and calm himself.

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“That was scaring me so much that it was a mindf—, because I had to stay calm and make sure she didn’t hear me panic or hear me struggle to breathe,” he continued. “I’m butt-a— naked in the living room, trying to calm myself down.”

Rhymes added that his ex-partner said at the time that he was “not who I fell in love with,” that the breathing issues scared her and she told him to lose weight. “‘I need you to get back to who I fell in love with,’” the rapper recalled his partner saying.

He also said passing out for 40 minutes after a night out and his son making fun of his weight were other wake-up calls about his health.


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Soon after, the Grammy-nominated artist underwent surgery for his vocal cords — after putting it off for “as long as I could” — and began getting back in shape.

Preparing to go on tour with fellow Men’s Health cover star 50 Cent, Rhymes said he’s “doing two-a-day workouts, everything: weights, circuits, sauna, cryotherapy” and maintaining healthier habits.

In June, Rhymes was awarded the BET lifetime-achievement award, delivering an emotional acceptance speech expressing gratitude to his longtime supporters and encouragement to a new generation of artists.

He told Men’s Health that the honor would not have been possible without people who “actually love me so much that they refuse to let me die.”

He added: “I’m able to be honest with [my friends and family], even in times of crisis. I don’t have to be afraid to ask for help.”