STIC'S BEAUTIFUL RUN

Twenty years ago, I can recall a moment hangin' out with dead prez while recording their second album, RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta at Chung King Studios in New York, and everyone was doing push-ups, in soldier form.  As I enter the control room with salutations of “Peace”, Stic shouts, “If you’re in the room, you gotta do ‘em too or leave!”  Well, of course, ten seconds later I found myself doing push-ups on my fists with the sound engineer and rest of the mighty RBG family to the loud, blood-pumping track, “50 in the Clip”.

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“Let Nothing Stop You” is the sacred mantra that has been guiding Stic, ever since.  Stic is a man on a mission. The mission is self-care, mental, spiritual, and physical empowerment. One half of the prolific and unapologetic hip hop duo released Let’s Get Free on Loud Records in 2000 to an unsuspecting world of fans who were ready for a new sound that magnified a sober fusion of hardcore beats, politics, and powerful Pan-Africanism.  At the time, the Tallahasse, Florida-born visionary had transplanted to Brooklyn, New York with lyrical partner M1  (Mutulu Olugbala), to record their debut opus while engaging a message of urgent community rehabilitation. 

Stic, aka Khnum Musta Ibomu, has given birth to a rising consciousness of movement aptly named, the RBG Fit Club.  On top of that, he has invented a groundbreaking new music and entertainment genre called “Fit Hop”.  Fit Hop coins itself as “The Champion Sound of Healthy Living” and provides a unique and progressive platform that combines both music and movement. 

“What I’m doing today is also a part of dead prez.  It’s a slice of that life."

Under the RBG Fit Records banner, Stic independently produced and recorded The Workout, (2011) and the follow-up, Workout II, released in 2020 on RBG Fit Records.  Both albums received popularity and reached #1 on Apple Music for their category specification as thousands of fans across the globe respond to the new growing fitness music genre.  This family-friendly hip-hop movement contains no profanity or use of the

N- word, yet it succeeds in the hype of motivating bodies from teens to seniors as they work out, run, lift weights, do yoga, calisthenics or martial arts.

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Stic admits his new revelation was literally born overnight.  During the creative process for the Let's Get Free, Stic was diagnosed with gout, severe joint swelling, and a serious arthritis condition while residing in Brooklyn. Waking up with swollen ankles one morning, he was forced to be 'woke' - awaking his inner consciousness to examine his own contradictions.  “I was ten toes down for political activism and organization, but I was caught up in the streets and the patterns I had picked up in Southside, Tallahassee such as getting high and getting drunk. And it all culminated after my early diagnosis at the age of 20 or 21.  That was unheard of.  You know, I’m a slim dude.  I could eat what I want still not gain weight.  So, you know, all of the poor eating habits, like eating at 3’oclock in the morning, stressing out, and the crack epidemic hit my house directly.  So, I was carrying all of this stress and you know, we all try to self-medicate just to make it through the day.  But it was a blessing in disguise. It was gout that really set that fire.” Claims Stic

Dependent on the medications and dope prescribed by doctors, Stic made a bold and conscious lifestyle decision to partner with his wife and vegan nutritionist, Afya Ibomu.  Afya insisted that he can do it, and, that they could do it together.  There have been issues with trust in the medical profession for many years, especially regarding the systemic disparages and limited access among people of color. Stic attributes his wife for his rebirth and a new wealth of health, claiming his essential rescue and approach to healthy living was amalgamated as a team.  This powerful union of comprehensive companionship sheds a light on the often delusional, stereotypical, and romantic idiosyncrasies shared by most, versus the rewarding potential of an actual functional power couple.  It postures itself to represent the familiar phrase, ‘you and me against the world.’

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During the healing and rehabilitation process, Stic went from the inability to use his legs to practicing various martial arts for strength and discipline.  This transition served as a symbolic ‘Rights of Passage’ as he relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Atlanta, GA,  in search of a healthy formula.  “I think about Tuskeegee (Experiment) and I said, Yeah. I’m fuckin’ with my wife.  She put me on a plant-based diet and healed the gout.  That made me appreciate my physical well-being so much more. I got back into martial arts for ten years straight.  That was a path I was destined to find.  It was a revolutionary experience for me.  Like my man Divine says, ‘Wifey she resurrect me when they thought they had me buried.’” Stic laughs.

“I didn’t want to focus on what I’m against. I wanted to start using my skill set to focus on what I’m for.” -STIC

Stic pivoted his stance dramatically, posturing himself as a fitness advocate and running trainer. He transformed into the voice of betterment and activated a pathology of self-inflection, introspection, and system that persuades others to go inward through regimented exercise, running, and meditation practice.  He explains why running became the catalyst for his journey as well as the focus of his new short film, A Beautiful Run.

 

“I think more cats would love and need this on a therapeutic side. But when we think of running, we think of Nike and the white girl running in the park.  Brothers can’t really relate. People make judgments about things they don’t participate in.  I started digging into the history of why that is.  Kenyans and Ethiopians, Africans and Tarahumara Indians, and all of these different folks other than white people have a legacy, heritage, and kinship in running.  I don’t see that in Runner’s World Magazine.  There’s a void missing in terms of the heritage, in terms of the therapy, and in terms of the mental self-care it provides.  I wanted to be a conduit for that.”-STIC

Shortly after his discovering the benefits of running, Stic sought professional training and certification with the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America), the premier coaching credential for long-distance coaching in Savannah, Georgia.  What began as running tutorials with a few friends and family transformed into a profound global movement of higher learning infused with physical and emotional therapy.

Stic is a true believer that integrity and self-care go hand in hand.  Action is a verb, not a word. The more you practice self-care the better for all humanity.  Physical activities such as running, martial arts, and meditation are key pillars to self-discipline and ultimately, self-care.  The integrity established with Fit Hop is a deliberate and purposeful art that develops character within.  Quite simply, If there is no integrity at the onset course of action, you cannot transfer the value of the action.

“Inspriration is what you’re really trying to transfer.  I have a lot of tools to be able to do that.  I started putting it into the music.  Expressing (what this is) in my words and beats.  That’s where ‘Fit Hop’ comes from.”-STIC

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A Beautiful Run *screenshot courtesy RBG Fitclub

The film premieres on February 28, 2021

“Running. It was contagious.  It was energy!  The next thing I know, I got the bug.  I can’t even sleep at night. I wanna run again.  I run in the morning, the afternoon, and at night. I loved it. It was a calling. I ran 5K’s, 10K’s, 13.1, 26.2, running everywhere!  Even running on tour! As soon as I hit the city, I’m hitting the block. I’m putting in ten miles before the show.  I was all the way in.  It was every bit the therapy that fit my personality. It’s dolo. There’s no comparison to anyone else.  It’s just you out there.  I got the headphones on.  I’m listening to audio books, classic albums, and life just came alive. It was joy for the sake of joy.”

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Proceeds to benefit Lugo Boxing & Fitness organization and community programming.

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When Stic's not running, training, or recording RBG Fit albums, he may be scoring advertising campaigns for sports and tech brands or devising new strategic opportunities that will propel humanity, worldwide fitness, community, and nutrition culture forward.  

 

“I don’t want to become a title, so to speak.  Not trying to become a director. I’m a creative. I’m an artist. Whatever the medium is, I’m going to bring my integrity and my soul to it, and work with people that can help it be its best.”

Stic's new RBG Fitclub Workout II album does exactly that. Songs such as "Raise the Bar", "Triumphant", "Me Time", "Motivated "and "Drink Water" are only a few examples of how the poignant beats and rhymes infiltrate your mindset to get your heart pumping for action!

“You have to be in the process. I believe that you have to have these physical practices as an individual in order to be a strong group for anything collective.  If we don’t have discipline within ourselves, we’re not going to have it in a group. We’re going to multiply our lack of discipline and we’re going to have all of the negative consequences that come with that when trying to build movements.  You learn from being in the process. Once you realize you can feel like you don’t wanna run, and you still get it done, that strengthens your resolve in life.” Insists Stic

Legends such as Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee are major inspirations for Stic and his movement philosophy.  Two dedicated individual perspectives celebrated by the world led to the focus of reinvention along with the discipline of physical and emotional self-care. 

“Muhammad Ali was a runner.  He had put in the roadwork for becoming a boxer. But did that stop him from being an activist? If anything, it made him more of a badass.  If he was talking all that shit and get whooped in the ring. It wouldn’t hold the same weight.  He put in the work to be able to dance fifteen rounds and win, and then say, don’t call me Toby!  I am a boss. I am the voice of a black man who is truly not afraid to be himself and do for self.  To me, there’s no separation between what you value for your own well-being and what you value for your people.  In regards to Bruce Lee, I saw the hip-hop in it.  What Bruce called Jeet Kune Do, is a sampling of different arts. Whether it be boxing, Tai Kwon Do, or Kung Fu, he was the hip-hop era of martial arts.  I parallel that to how hip hop came along with jazz, soul, rock, pop and how these young brothers started rapping over drums and sampling, experimenting and adding to what was essentially their own.” 

Creative control, storytelling, and visionary concepts are nothing new. It started way back in the early days prior to rocking on Loud Records.  Joining the ranks of label mates Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep gave Stic access to the insider track. Cracking the code into the music business, Stic quickly learned that they needed a music video for the first song, and no one could tell their story, but them. Mainstream wouldn’t understand or appreciate the nuances of dead prez’s unique story.  Stic insisted on being involved with the narrative and creating the visual voice for the group.  He wrote and developed the visual treatments for music videos such as"Hip Hop", "They Schools" and "Mind Sex."

“I've just always enjoyed the craft of writing and making music. Fast forward, now, we are in the era where content is king.  I think it is harder to make a connection because there are a zillion-and-one things coming at you and it’s over-saturated.  For me, what I want to do in the film and video space is a unique niche.  I want to bring Fit-Hop alive in multiple ways, whether narrative, fiction, documentary style, music video style, or a 

hybrid mix of it all.  I’ll continue to find new challenges that combine the visual with music and storytelling.” Says Stic.

A Beautiful Run is a perfect example of Stic voyaging into the film frontier while implementing the RBG Fitclub brand, music, activism, influence, and philosophy into the anatomy of his art.

Through a recent partnership with athletic apparel company, Lululemon,  Stic was approached to lead and curate a series of running workshops, fitness classes, personal development courses, campaign activations, and exclusive media content. He was invited to attend a reunion project comprised of a core group of 200 global influencers in sports, fitness, activism, art, music, and filmmaking.  Unenthusiastic about the program, he replied to the opportunity with concerned thoughts of pandemic health risks and the senseless, racist killing of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Georgia.

Arbery’s death had a profound effect on the nation, but Stic painfully remembers "His death changed the peace when I run. After that, I’d be on my runs and then a pick-up truck would drive past me, and I’d find myself having anxiety. You just don’t know. It might pop off!  That was on my mind. So, Lululemon was like, here is a budget, do what you do.” 

During a time of unprecedented chaos, anxiety, and fear of death by Coronavirus, overt racism, or police brutality, the U.S. Presidential election, and State Capital insurrections, the timing for this film temperature is impeccable.

 

“With all of this shit is coming to a head. I’m very proud of this project because there is an element that is missing from the social conversation, which is self-care.  In the midst of this, we’re arguing over vaccines, we’re arguing over Trump and Biden, we’re arguing over so many things on the surface and external level, but the self-care component is not a conversation people are having. We are all affected.  We’re anxious and all under stress.  Do I get killed by Covid? Do I get killed by police?  Is Trump going to stay in office? Where is the voice of self-care? Where is the voice telling us to take a moment? How would self-care help us manage our responses to the chaos of the world? How would that empower us? What would that feel like for us and our community?"  

 

I wanted to make a statement that is centered in the reality of what’s going on, but it is framed to highlight self-care. -Stic

“I had this picture of Muhammad Ali on one of his numerous runs and my own feelings about what happened to Ahmaud Abery. I meditated on that.  And out of that, the project A Beautiful Run came to be.  It’s not literal.  It is a metaphor for those impressions.  It doesn’t really fit neatly into any sort of a box, so I call it a Fit Hop film."

By Al Shaw Ki 
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