Living With Rapilepsy

Back in 1984 while repeatedly listening to “The Message” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, I contracted an incurable disease.


Rapilepsy is a debilitating disorder categorized by the frequent and uncontrollable urge to bust rhymes regardless of the musical inclinations of those standing within earshot, and regardless of actual skill.

Rapilepsy affects one out of every 100,000 people — typically Caucasian males from suburban communities who weren’t breast-fed as babies or adequately supervised during early adolescence. It is most commonly contracted from exposure to sick rhymes and ill beats, though it can also be caught listening to Lil Wayne.

To date, little has been written on Rapilepsy and roughly zero clinical studies have been conducted. Here’s what we do know for sure about this often misunderstood though very difficult to overlook disease:

  • Rapilepsy is rarely fatal. However, death can occur if the afflicted has a Rapileptic fit near one or more drunk country music fans, the Republican National Convention, or Suge Knight.
  • Rapileptics spend the vast majority of their waking hours inadvertently aggravating family, friends, teachers, roommates, significant others, coworkers, postal workers, DJs, wait staff, flight attendants, clergymen, and strangers in clubs with what they insist is lyrical prowess. Rapileptics spend the vast majority of their sleeping hours in bed wearing a Beastie Boys T-shirt.
  • A very small percentage of those afflicted with Rapilepsy actually go on to have careers in the music business, usually as roadies for Atmosphere.
  • While there is no known cure for the malady, it is possible for Rapileptics to go into a lengthy remission following a massive stroke or severe auto accident.

Being a Rapileptic myself, I know how difficult it can be to live with this disorder — how challenging it is to sustain lasting relationships, to be treated equally, and to write this article in regular prose rather than in rhyming verse. I’ve felt the derisive stares after free-styling about the U.S. poverty rate at a wine-tasting party. I’ve endured the excessive force used by traffic cops whenever I spit 16 bars about the prison-industrial complex. I’ve seen first dates end abruptly following a straight-from-the-dome rap about the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. People can be very cruel when coming into contact with someone who’s a little different.

We Rapileptics aren’t seeking any special treatment. We merely ask that you not discriminate against us because of our chronic condition. We want to live in a world that doesn’t condemn us for our inability to recognize how whack we are on the imaginary mic.

You don’t have to like our awkward spoken word outbursts or troubled sense of rhythm, but you do need to learn how to ACT like you do to protect our feelings. We’re not going to stop rapping until society begins to accept us, and even then we’ll continue to rap because this disease is unrelenting.

Together, we CAN’T beat Rapilepsy. I just thought you should know.

Word. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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