It’s been more than 11 years and Masta Ace says he hasn’t had a serious MS episode since that performance in Paris. He said he came to the conclusion that he would have episodes based on his nerves. Masta Ace says he had to learn how to control the adrenaline that comes with getting ready to get on stage.
As Masta Ace was learning how to deal with his disease, he had to handle heartbreak. In 2005, his mother, who had a clean bill of health, died unexpectedly. She was 54.
“It just made me lock more in on my mortality,” says Masta Ace, who dedicated his 2012 album, Ma_Doom: Son Of Yvonne, to her. “My mother thought she had plenty more time, I’m sure, at 54. She was living her life like she thought she had a lot more time to do a lot more things. She had projects in her house that were incomplete. You’re going through life thinking it’s all good and then, boom. So that had a big effect on how I looked at stuff.”
After his mother’s death, Masta Ace became focused on nutrition, on improving his life and on living as healthily as possible. He goes to the gym three or four times a week, does some weight training and has cut out white foods (rice, sugar, potatoes, flour and bread) while dramatically reducing the amount of dairy products he consumes. He eats a high protein diet. His MS medicine, Avonex, is made up of amino acids, which are major components of protein.
“I think having [MS] multiplied my reaction to her passing because we kind of walk around, we feel like we’re invincible,” Masta Ace says. “We’re still young. We’re strong. I viewed my mother as a symbol of strength.”
Masta Ace has been able to rely on his wife for strength. “When somebody else is going through something, or is down about something, she has this way of just putting this positive spin on it,” says Masta Ace, who celebrated his twelfth wedding anniversary in November. “It’s pretty wild.”
Beyond his wife, Masta Ace draws inspiration and motivation from his daughter Milan, 9. “Every effort that I make is to make sure that I’m able to be around and see her, see her develop, grow, get married and all that.”
Neither the MS diagnosis, the birth of his daughter nor the death of his mother served as the catalyst for Masta Ace to announce publicly that he had MS.
In 2012, though, he was touring the Czech Republic with Marco Polo and fellow eMC member Stricklin. They were pulled over on the highway and the police searched all of the crew’s bags, unearthing his medication in the process.
“After everything was all said and done, the question came up, ‘Yo, what was that?’” Masta Ace says. “I could have made up something, but I had already gotten to a point in my mind where I was going to eventually be revealing this, so I felt that was kind of the time to tell them. It was kind of meant for them to find out right then and there, so I just told them right then and there what it was. They asked a few questions. I answered them and nobody’s brought it up since, really. I think they wanted to ask more questions, but I think my demeanor made them kind of hold back. I’ve been asked, ‘How you been feeling,’ but I think they just kind of want to respect my privacy.”