REVIEWS

Mental Health In Hip Hop

today06/07/2021

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More than ever before, hip-hop artists are publicly acknowledging their mental health issues, promoting anti-stigma campaigns around mental health, and normalising seeking treatment for mental health issues.

Do you, or does someone you know, struggle with mental health issues? Chances are that you do. You might think you haven’t met someone with mental health issues, but you probably have and were just unaware, because most people don’t talk about it due to a stigma surrounding mental health. When people don’t talk about their mental health issues, they aren’t able to be treated. According to John Hopkins, an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and above, which equates to about 1 in 4 adults, suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. In another statement from the same article, most people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Moreover, suicide is of the leading causes of death in adolescents and adults ages 15–24. That’s a critical age, because that’s when teenagers are developing into adults and are very impressionable. In rap and hip-hop, lyrics are often catchy with no particular message behind them. In some cases, we have conscious rap where rappers will rap more heavily on political issues; however, there are not too many artists who rap or talk about mental health. I believe the culture is shifting that way with certain artists such as Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Joe Budden, and Logic talking and rapping about mental health issues they themselves have struggled with.

So often we listen to music with the intention to get in a good mood. However, we also have artists who will often use their platform and art to deliver a message. Among them is Logic, a rapper from Maryland, who broke the stigma of mental health in 2018 when he released the song “1–800–237–8255,” which features artists such as Khalid and Alessa Cara. The song details the struggles people deal with in everyday life. It mentions that life can be hard, but you have to keep living, it askes the crowd “who can relate?” This is the artist connecting with the audience, which is important, because he’s making himself vulnerable while shedding light on the issue of mental health. He’s not just reaching out to fans in hip hop, but to everyone, which is important, because artists like Logic have a huge fan base of predominately teens and adults in their 30s. Since there is a stigma around mental health and many people often view the subject as taboo, it often goes untreated. If there was not a stigma surrounding mental health, more people would feel comfortable in reaching out for help and talking about the issues they are facing.

What Logic’s song “1–800–237–8255” song did was to take mental health and music mainstream. Logic was successful in that due to his talent and great marketing. According to an article by Billboard.com, with the name of the song being the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the lifeline reached its second highest daily call volume the night of the premier of the song. This statistic, along with the fact that it has accumulated over 20.8-billion streams, shows that the message resonates with people .

When talking about taboo subjects, it always takes innovators to lead the way and shed light on old thinking. Luckily, as of late, we have had many artists who have come out to openly speak about mental health, such as Juice world, Logic, Joe Budden, Kanye west and Kid Cudi. Rappers like Kid Cudi have spoken up about mental health issues, only to have it used against them, which is what Drake did to Cudi. This is an example of the risk, and why people don’t speak about mental health issues very openly. Fans went after Drake, but he was dismissive of the situation. Rappers like Kid Cudi and Logic will hopefully give way to an emergence of new artists who actively cover topics that can help guide those who listen to them, and show them that they are not alone.

 

“1–800–273–8255” by Logic (2017)

 

Logic is no stranger to mental health issues, which is why this is an important video. As an artist and human, by releasing this song, he made himself vulnerable. He broke the stigma around talking about mental health and brought awareness to an important issue. Following Logic’s performance at the Grammy’s, the Suicide Lifeline saw an uptick of calls by 60 percent. This song has been viewed as a message to seek help and a way to talk about mental health.

 

“Joker 3 (Why So Serious)” by DAX (2020)

Why So Serious‘ is the third installment of Dax’s Joker series. The song is a follow-up on ‘Joker‘ and “Joker Returns‘. In this 3-part series, Dax cleverly touches on mental health issues, cyberbullying and social communication issues usually by putting himself in the shoes of the victim.

Although misunderstood, Dax is never one to shy away from getting his point across. As portrayed in the music video, he has been admitted to an asylum, an analogy implying how he is perceived by society for speaking his truth and questioning the system. He is basically seen as a lunatic for not owning to conform to the norms of society.

Last time that I talked you guys you thought I was mental

I explained how I felt cause I thought you were people I could vent to

But you just laughed, said I’m crazy, stupid and slightly special

That I should quit, or end my life so now I resent you

Dax and his independent record label ‘Living Legends Entertainment‘ launched a website (JoinMyCircus.com) in 2020 for people battling with mental health issues or cyberbullying. As the suicide rate goes higher, every year, he and his team are doing the little they can to create more awareness on mental health issues and cyberbullying.

 

“Day ’N’ Nite” Kid-Cudi (2009)

Kid Cudi rose to popularity after his hit “Day ’N’ Nite” broke about a lonely stoner who smokes at night. This song is important, because the video has visuals that seem to infer that the artist has a lot on his mind. For Kid Cudi, having a lot on his mind isn’t new. He has often spoken about his own battles with depression. Most of his music tends to have some taste of his outlook on mental health and how he deals with it, which is unique.

 

“Stan” by Eminem (2009)

This song was chosen, because I like the way the story has two points of view, one from an artist and one from a fan, who is clearly suffering with some sort of mental health issue. The song tells a descriptive story of an obsessed fan who idolizes a rapper so much that he embodies him in every way that he can, from the way that he looks to how he raps. The obsession leads the fan “Stan” to write to his favorite rapper multiple times until he ultimately takes his and his family’s life.

 

“U-Said” Lil Peep (2017)

This artist is extremely important to the point of the article, because this artist was found dead from a drug overdose. Lil Peep was known for being different, as well as being a “sad boy’” He had depressive lyrics and would often talk about being sad and taking drugs. His death was a catalyst for other artists to get clean and seek help.

 

“There’s Alot Going On” by Vic Mensa (2016)

This song was the first song I thought of when having this playlist in mind. Apart from this song just sounding amazing, it touches on mental health a little bit closer than some of the other videos. Vic Mensa is extremely vulnerable in this song, talking about his struggle with sobriety and infidelity, both causing problems in his life. In the song he mentions an instance where he took drugs, and almost took his life in a closet due to the stresses in his life at the time. This video is important because of how Vic uses his own past faults and vulnerabilities to bring light to a bigger issue.

 

“3 Years Sober” Vic Mensa (2019)

This was an easy choice. This is another song by Vic Mensa which talks about drug use, being sober, and the effects of using drugs. The importance of this song is, that unlike the last one, this one has more of a punk vibe. I see this being beneficial, because he can get his message out to a larger audience than just hip hop. The chorus of the song is indicative of his prior drug use, “I am three years sober and still hungover.”

TO MENTION BUT A FEW.

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