This year we lost several rappers to addiction, and musicians everywhere have been more open than ever about the stress of their profession. The stigma of mental health is in many areas of the music business, including the hip-hop world, and there has been a big rallying cry to improve mental health in the rap community.
Recent reports have examined whether the world of hip-hop is addressing the importance of mental health and if any steps are being taken to reduce the stigma around mental health.
A Stigma That Is Hopefully Being Reduced
As Luke Hinz writes in HNHH, “The hip-hop community has long turned a blind eye to mental health, but the stigma is gradually beginning to unravel.” One example this report points to is Kanye West, who admittedly suffers from manic depression, and whose odd public behavior has some people concerned. (West had been hospitalized for a mental breakdown in 2016 and on the cover of his ye album he wrote, “I hate being Bi-Polar it’s awesome.”)
This article listed statistics that say that close to one in five adults in America have a mental illness, and African Americans can be 20% more likely to have a mental illness than the rest of the US population. There is a strong need to speak out, which isn’t easy for artists with a tough public persona.
This article also brought up an important point, that “at its core, the [hip-hop] genre has always been a catalyst for awareness,” and now could be the right time to raise that awareness.
Hip-hop and rap have also always had a long history of being honest and “being real,” and hip-hop has evolved to the point where its fan base wouldn’t think someone’s being soft for getting help.
Jay-Z Talks Mental Health
One of the most prominent hip-hop artists, Jay Z, said in one podcast, “We have to watch our health – our physical health and what we’re doing with our bodies. But also, our mental health. A lot of people going through trauma like that, and you’re too embarrassed to get help for it. Especially in these neighborhoods where we grew up.”
Jay Z admitted when he first went into therapy he hated it, but he realized, “I wasn’t ready for that level of getting to know yourself.” Kid Cudi and Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC have also publicly talked about going into therapy and how much it benefitted them. McDaniels realized being in therapy didn’t make him soft. “My saying is, ‘Therapy is gangsta.’”
Recently, there has also been a therapist who has been doing sessions with hip-hop artists that have been televised all over the world. Viceland has a show called The Therapist, where Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh has conducted therapy sessions with a number of hip-hop artists, and he also did an emotional episode with Katy Perry that received wide acclaim.
While it’s still hard for a lot of hip-hop artists to be vulnerable and admit they need help, there are thankfully a lot of hip-hop artists who have gotten help for their mental health, and they will hopefully pave the way for more people to come forward, get help, and heal.