Rapper Freeway will collaborate with the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland to host a kidney walk fundraiser to promote awareness about kidney disease beginning 9 a.m. on April 30 at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Rapper Freeway (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Rapper Freeway (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Freeway was born Leslie Edward Pridgen in North Philadelphia, Pa., and was best known for the time he spent affiliated with Roc-A-Fella records alongside Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel.  Even though being a Philadelphia native, Freeway is no stranger to Baltimore.

“You know I been coming to Baltimore since before I was famous, and throughout my whole career Baltimore always supported me,” said the rapper. “You know I got loved ones here and a lot of people that I care about here and it’s like my second home.”

Kidney disease is an ailment that Pridgen himself is all too familiar with.

“I was diagnosed with kidney disease September of 2015. You know I was traveling a lot and I’m always on the road performing and I was feeling fatigued and tired but I thought it was just from traveling, so I went to the doctors and got a routine physical and a week later my doctor called me and told me get to the emergency room because my kidney function was low, very low.”

This is not the first kidney fundraiser in which Pridgen has been involved. He participated in a kidney fundraiser in his hometown of Philadelphia in 2015 and has been very vocal about his illness and recovery.  

“It’s important to spread awareness,” he said. “The whole time I was running around with the three leading risk factors for kidney disease and I didn’t even know it. If I would’ve been aware of the fact that I had the three risk factors I would’ve definitely been more on top of the situation.”

The three risk factors Pridgen is referring to are diabetes, high blood pressure, and African- American heritage.

“Education is key,” the rapper said. “A lot of people are running around with risk factors and don’t even know it, I guarantee it’s people running around with kidney failure and they don’t even know it, because I was one of those people—who else is better to make them aware than someone they already love and listen to.”

Although shocking, Pridgen’s diagnosis has not caused the rapper to lose his faith or drive.

“My faith plays a role in everything that I do,” said the performer, who is Muslim. “It’s one of the reasons I try to stay in front of it the way I do; I don’t believe God will give me anything I can’t handle.”

He added, “I have a great team and they supported me throughout the whole thing and things are looking good. I’m working on a new album and I’m getting ready to drop a single in a few weeks.”

To learn more about the Baltimore Kidney Walk you can visit: http://donate.kidney.org/site/TR/Walk/Maryland?fr_id=8634&pg=entry