DJ Unk burst on the national scene in 2006 with the smash hit, “Walk It Out.” The Atlanta rapper had legions of fans doing his dance, a remix with Andre 3000, was booked for shows overseas and even welcomed MTV Cribs into his home. But three years later he almost couldn’t walk at all.
Last August word broke on Twitter that DJ Unk had been rushed to the hospital due to a reported heart attack. The budding star almost paid the highest price for his work. Relentless touring, combined with bad eating habits, drinking, smoking and other vices that often come living the fast life, led to Unk having to visit an emergency room after experiencing chest pains and partial paralysis in his left arm.
Released from the hospital a short while afterwards, Unk has a renewed focus and energy. The Oomp Camp says he’s learned his lesson and replaced smoking and drinking with salmon and fruit. As for his career path, Unk’s back to work with plans to emerge with a slew of mixtapes, a DVD documentary and a full-length album, Third Time’s the Charm: Go Hard or Go Home. All in all, it appears Unk is determined to show that although he can “walk it out,” he can also walk back in.
XXLMag.com: With recent news of Guru having a heart attack and slipping into a coma, you must feel blessed to have pulled through your situation so quickly.
DJ Unk: It’s a blessing to be here. I’ve been on the road since 2006 and at this age—I’m 28 right now—a lot of people don’t get to see 28. A lot of people don’t get to see 15, 10, some babies. It’s a blessing for me to celebrate [another] birthday. I had some medical issues going on from not eating the right food and that just come from when I stopped taking care of myself. I got to get healthy not just for my sake, but also for my kids and for my wife.
XXLMag.com: Now, when you say medical condition what exactly happened? Was it stress related or…
DJ Unk: It comes from not exercising, from not eating right. Basically man, I work hard everyday. Everything I do every day I try to make something happen in my household. I constantly be on the go, I constantly be on airplanes, in different weather and you know it just took a toll on me. It was stress.
XXLMag.com: Did you know it was a heart attack right away? Because you were on Twitter talking about it while you were going to the hospital.
DJ Unk: One morning I woke up and I was like, I felt a little pain on the left side of my heart, it felt like a pulled muscle because I’ve been trying to get back in shape—I was trying to shoot basketballs or whatever. As the day went on, it kept bothering me, to the point where my left arm, I almost couldn’t do anything with it. My wife was trying to see what was going on. I had laid down on the bed and I laid back and I couldn’t move. I didn’t know whether to call the ambulance or just try to shake it off. I’m glad I went to the hospital because the doctor said if I would have laid down and went to sleep, who knows if I would’ve got up and that would’ve been a sad thing. That’s why I say, man, I’m thankful that God’s in my life. I’m more focused now; I’m getting more older, wiser.
XXLMag.com: How has your lifestyle changed in the time since you got out the hospital?
DJ Unk: I removed all the [negative stuff]. I’m blessed to be as booked for concerts and hosting and everything. I enjoy myself but I’ve calmed down on the drinking, on the beer, the smoking. Everybody’s smoking dealing with this game, I know a couple of people hit a joint or two. I substituted that with fruits, base foods like good salmon, just healthy things. Whenever I go out, I still enjoy myself like before. I have a drink or two before I hit the stage. I just don’t go ham like I did before; everything was so fast. Instead of praying once like before, I go twice a day.
XXLMag.com: What can fans expect from your next album?
DJ Unk: This album that we about to bring you now, you gonna see… The music changed so much. I’m real skeptical about what I put out, because I want to put it out the right way for people to enjoy.
XXLMag.com: This will be your third album but people primarily associate you with “Walk it Out.” The problem with a huge hit like that is people start to pigeonhole you as one thing. How do you plan to change that perception?
DJ Unk: For people to say that “Walk It Out” was bullshit, or “Two Step” was some bullshit… kill yourself. Every household all over the world; I changed a lot of people’s lives through my music. As far as kids, parents, grandmothers, everybody. I gave them a chance to be together as a family. Just like Rev. Run says, “Take back your family.” That’s what those songs are… togetherness.
XXLMag.com: Anything else you want to add?
DJ Unk: I’m about to do it big with Big Oomp Records and E1, we gonna turn it all the way up. My new slogan for 2010 is: “It’s a go.” That’s what it’s all about. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. All you gotta do is go for it. —Slav Kandyba