IN MY MIND
MENTAL HEALTH & HIP-HOP
Mental health and the arts go hand in hand. It’s a topic which has been discussed to death however it still crops up every now and again. From Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway to Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain, some of the greatest artists in history have suffered from at least one form of mental illness. With Hip-Hop being the most popular genre of music, more and more people are encouraging the discussion of mental health. In this article, I’ll be discussing six hip-hop artists who have talked about mental health in their music detailing the effects its had on their lives.
Tyler, The Creator
Although the earlier years of Tyler, The Creators career were undoubtedly filled with immature moments and controversy over homophobic language it would be insensitive to ignore the references to suicidal thoughts and depression on his debut album Goblin. Lyrics such as “I'm just a teenager who admits he's suicide-prone” and “ending it is all I fucking think about” show Tylers battle with suicide and depression. Some people may have interpreted these lyrics as Tyler trolling or being overdramatic to create shock value at the time, but the rapper makes more references to depression on his 2017 album flower boy six years later.
He may be one of Hip-Hops most flamboyant and eccentric rappers, but Danny Brown has made countless references to struggles with mental health and drug addiction throughout his career. The Detroit natives break-out project XXX and debut album Old features distributing lyrics such as “it’s the downward spiritual got me suicidal” and “I've been stressed for so long think depression done settled” which are still chilling and hard to listen. Similar to Tyler, The Creator his energetic, playful personality can often over-shadow his dark past. Although his name may not come up in the discussion of mental health and hip-hop in the mainstream media, for me Danny Brown has the strongest voice in the crowd of rappers discussing mental health. Not only has he made references to depression, suicide and anxiety on all three of his projects his one of the most transparent and honest rapper in recent years
Capital Steez (1993-2012)
Unfortunately, not all artists who suffer from mental health issues find the help they need in time. Capital Steez of the Pro Era crew is one of them. The promising New York rapper committed suicide on the night of December 23rd, 2012. It was later revealed that the 19-year-old had struggled with schizophrenia and depression which may have been caused by excessive marijuana use, ultimately leading to his suicide. Steez is a reminder to anyone dealing with mental health issues to talk to someone and find help before its too late. Pro Era continues to celebrate the life of Captial Steez through their annual Steez Day festival each year.
After the death of his Mother Donda West in late 2007 Kanye West admitted he had struggled with Suicide and depression. On the 2012 hit single ‘Clique’ Kanye raps “went through deep depression when my mama passed suicide what kind of talk is that”. West gradually came to terms with his mothers passing and went onto to the produce the beautiful 2008 album ‘808 and heartbreaks’ which released two weeks after the one year anniversary of his mother death. It seems that Kanye is still dealing with mental health issues after it was reported he was taken to hospital for a psychiatric evaluation last year. This later spawned an overdue conversation about mental health not only in the hip-hop community but in the black community.
TDE’s Isaiah Rashad has been very vocal in his previous struggles with mental illness. On his break-out project ‘Cilvia Demo’ Isaiah makes references to suicidal thoughts, however, the most blatant reference comes in the form of a hook on the track ‘west Savanah’ were Isaiah melodically sings “at least we fell in love with something greater than debating suicide”. He also makes another two references on the track Heavenly Father with “I don’t wanna think of suicide” and “they don’t know my issues as a child cause I was busy cutting on myself. Isaiah discussed his battles with suicide in an interview with Noisey. When the topic came up Isaiah responded saying, “I thought about killing myself a lot when I was 19”.
If you’ve ever listened to a Death Grips record you'll know how loud, aggressive and self-destructive frontman MC Ride gets when rapping. However, underneath the fast-paced, schizophrenic production from drummer Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin lay extremely dark lyrics from Ride discussing his struggles with suicide, addiction, a disconnect with surface reality and inner pain beyond comprehension. However, the thing that makes Death grips different from a Kid Cudi or Logic is their elusive, No fucks given behaviour. While Kid Cudi will confront his struggles with suicide publicly on social media and attempt to get help, MC Ride will intensively scream about his paranoia and depression then leave the listener bewildered afterwards wondering if his seeking help or diving deeper into a pool of self-loafing. Despite their elusive presence, Death Grip is surprisingly one of the loudest voices discussing mental health and Hip-hop. Songs such as up my sleeves, you might think he loves you and on GP make references to full-blown paranoia, uncontrollable schizophrenia, crushing depression, an unhealthy obsession with suicide and even the acceptance of death.
If you are currently suffering from any mental health issues and haven't sought medical assistance or are curious about learning more about mental health you can visit www.mentalhealth.org.
If you're having thoughts of suicide please call the Samaritans suicide hotline at 116 123