Rapper Taboo: From Black Eyed Peas star to cancer survivor

Jaime Luis Gomez, aka Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, and a cancer survivor, went through an agonizing series of chemotherapy treatments of 12 weeks of six-hour daily sessions. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Rapper Taboo: From Black Eyed Peas star to cancer survivor

MEXICO CITY: Jimmy Gomez, better known as the rapper Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas, had money, fame and a multi-platinum career when a strange back pain brought his world crashing down.
The six-time Grammy winner went to the doctor and got a gut-wrenching diagnosis: he had testicular cancer.
He had more than 100 million record sales to his name and a string of worldwide dance hits like “I Gotta Feeling” and “Where Is the Love?,” but it meant nothing in the face of cancer’s cruel reality, he said in an interview.
At first, he was only able to piece the details together slowly.
“They didn’t tell me what type of cancer I had. They didn’t tell me what stage I was in. They just told me, Mr. Gomez, you have cancer,” said Taboo, 42.
“My life flashed before my eyes. I thought about my kids, I thought about my wife. Nothing prepares you for the shock of someone telling you you have that horrible disease.”
That was in 2014. It was only last year that Taboo went public about his struggle with cancer — now in remission after a grueling series of chemotherapy treatments.
Today, the Los Angeles native is an ambassador for the American Cancer Society and a vocal ally and fundraiser for cancer survivors everywhere.
He spoke to AFP ahead of the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City, which gathered high-level policy makers Tuesday for an annual exchange on fighting the world’s second-leading cause of death.
It was not an easy journey to get there.
First Taboo went through an agonizing series of chemotherapy treatments: 12 weeks of six-hour daily sessions that he describes as “war, torture and a nightmare” rolled into one.
“That was the feeling,” he said.
“I’ve never been to war, but internally, when they’re destroying your insides to kill everything that’s good to kill that one thing that’s bad, which is the tumor, it scarred me psychologically, emotionally, inside and outside.”
The idea that dealing with cancer is a “battle” has come in for criticism lately from some who resent the violence of the analogy and the implication that those suffering from the disease just need to “fight harder.”
But Taboo is an unapologetic anti-cancer warrior.
He is intensely defiant when he talks about the disease.
“I’m living, dude. I’m alive. See this face? I can actually smile and say, Look, I beat the f--- out of cancer,” he said, mouthing the end of the expletive.
He spoke to AFP decked out in black, his bald head crowned by a wide-brimmed “zoot suit” hat evocative of his Mexican roots, and sporting turquoise-and-silver jewelry in a nod to his Native American heritage on his mother’s side.
He cited his maternal grandmother as his biggest influence.
“She’s a Shoshone Native American woman who had a warrior instinct. And my warrior instinct kicked in” after he was diagnosed, he said.
But you need both love and fight to deal with cancer, he added.
At the American Cancer Society, he wants to be an “ambassador of love,” he said, breaking into the chorus of one of his biggest hits: “Where Is the Love?“
Last year, as a fundraiser for the Cancer Society, he recorded a song called “The Fight.”
His message today to others is that they can defeat cancer, too.
“I beat it down. And now I’m going to use this gift of life to give people hope and to say, Look, I went down that path too, I was there lying on that bed, you’re not alone. I am one of you and you are one of me. Let’s get charged up for life.”
Maybe the title of his next hit song.


Evolution of coffee culture in KSA

Original local cafes are working hard to maintain their reputation for serving authentic coffee. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 09 December 2018
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Evolution of coffee culture in KSA

  • The growing number of cafes has helped people share their passion for coffee, proving that it is much more than a beverage

JEDDAH: Coffee has always been a major part of Arab culture, a traditional companion at gatherings, weddings and a wide variety of social events.
In Arab households, there is never an occasion where the “dallah” — the Arabic traditional coffee pot — is unavailable. Coffee is served over and over again in small Arabic cups.
Recently, however, there has been a rise in another branch of coffee culture, “specialty coffee.”
Western coffee culture has spread rapidly in Saudi Arabia, with local cafes popping up on the streets and in shopping malls. Their growing popularity is well deserved.
Original local cafes such as Brew 92, meddcoffee, Cup and Couch and others have worked hard to grow their reputation for serving authentic coffee, rather than using sugar and other elements to change the taste of the beverage.
The growing number of cafes has helped people share their passion for coffee, proving that it is much more than a beverage.
Atheer Al-Dhari, a barista at Ekleel cafe, said: “I love coffee. After four years’ experience in coffee, it is not just a career or a job but my biggest passion. My husband encouraged me to be more than a home barista.
“A couple of years ago, modern coffee was not popular,” the 26-year-old barista said. “But, then, as people observed the complexity of coffee they became curious. It was our responsibility to show them how coffee worked and that it was more than just a beverage. It takes years to even grow the coffee tree, so it is a lot of work and effort. There are farmers, roasteries, training, lots of money and so much more involved in serving a cup of coffee.”
Abbas Anwar Khan, a marketing specialist at Qatarat cafe, said: “We work on introducing a variety of coffee to the public, to familiarize them with the many flavors and textures.”
Rawan Jambi, a partner in the Rico Coast Lounge, said: “We are looking to introduce ourselves in many different areas, such as Riyadh and Dammam. Recently people have been following the trend of drinking coffee, and they try to include it in their routine from day to night.
“Back in the day, there was just Arabic coffee, but gradually Americanos, cappuccino and other types of hot coffee were introduced. Also due to the hot weather, cold coffees were introduced, which is a big change,” she said.
Recent events have been held to highlight the history and development of coffee in Jeddah. In November, two major events promoted different cafes and offered people a chance to taste their offerings.
“It is very significant for us. The coffee business is growing quickly and competition is strong. It is like a wildfire,” said 19-year-old barista Abdullah Babouk from Beyond Coffee.
“What I like about being a barista is that people who drink coffee have a routine where they come to us every day. Rather than it being a customer-provider relationship, we are a community. Every cafe should open with a vision to stand out and not just make money. Coffee should be treated like gold and that is our mission.”
Although coffee consumption has few health risks and considerable benefits, “anything and everything is harmful when we abuse it,” said dietician Dr. Ruwaida Idrees.
“Coffee bears some risks, and high consumption of unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels,” she said.
“More than two cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific and fairly common genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.”
Caffeine addiction can be a serious problem for some people, including students and office employees who sacrifice sleep and drink coffee to stay alert.
“The first step is admitting you have a problem with coffee, then start to work on solving the problem,” Idrees said. “Drinking half-caffeinated or decaffeinated versions can help, as can walking around the office or getting other physical activity when you feel sleepy.”
As long as it is not consumed in large quantities, coffee is something to be cherished and each cup enjoyed.