By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  A North Philadelphia-born rap artist known for hits with the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye West received a devastating diagnosis this fall– his kidneys had failed. He’s now using his talents to raise awareness about a disease that affects millions.

For years, Freeway has been best known for high energy performances on stage with the likes of Jay-Z and hits with superstars like Kanye West, Mariah Carey and many more.  Born Leslie Prigden and raised in North Philadelphia, the 27-year-old joined Roc-A-Fella Records when he was in his 20s, touring the world using his talents.

“From the time I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a rapper,” says Freeway, “it was exciting– that was a time in my life I thought would never end.”

But quietly, Freeway was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013.  That didn’t stop he.  He lost some weight, changed his diet and got the disease under control.  But his discipline began to slip and then last summer fatigue set, coming to a head at the 2015 Made in America Festival.

“I got like an anxiety attack because I knew I wasn’t myself,” he says.

He made it through that performance, but a visit to his doctor revealed he had kidney failure.

Cherri Gregg:  “What went through your mind when you got the diagnosis?”

Freeway: “It was surreal for me because I knew it was going to be a huge lifestyle adjustment.

For four hours, three days a week, Freeway undergoes dialysis. He eats a strict diet, exercises and rests and with the support of family, he’s back on the road doing what he loves most– performing on stage.

“I believe I am blessed,” he says.

He schedules his performances around dialysis.  Currently, he getting tested so he can be added to the kidney donor list.  He hopes to get a transplant.  In the meantime, he’s raising awareness and money for the Kidney Foundation.

“Nobody’s invincible, nobody’s superman,” he says, “it’s important to keep up with your routine physicals– it’s the difference between life and death.”

Freeway says he might not be here if he didn’t get a check up last September.

“I’m believe God blessed me,” he says.

So he wants to bless others.

Freeway will perform on Friday at Trocadero, 1039 Arch Street.  Part of the proceeds will go to help the Kidney Foundation.  Find more information here: http://www.thetroc.com/event/989931-freeway-friends-philadelphia/

 

For more on the Kidney Foundation, go to https://www.kidney.org/.

For facts about kidney disease, check out these links:

https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/factsheets/FastFacts

https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/factsheets/Diabetes-And-CKD

https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/factsheets/African-Americans-and-CKD