Mental Health and Hip-Hop


Photo Credit: Joel G. Mwakasege

In the first week of October, Kid Cudi released a statement informing not only his fans, but the general public that he was checking himself into a rehab after spending years battling with depression and anxiety. In April, in an interview with Billboard, Kid Cudi revealed his battle with depression and using drugs as a coping mechanism. During this interview, Kid Cudi also mentioned how his last album Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven would be his last album where he would be the “dark depressing” character that people knew regarding the artist and his work. That part of the interview stuck out to me because whenever my friends or people, in general, would discuss Kid Cudi to or with me, they would always make him out to be this dark and depressing character. As if, that is the only person he was or is.

The presence of mental health and mental illness has always been discussed and talked about in hip-hop. Hip-hop is an art, it is music, and for these artists, their music, this is how they discuss how they are battling with their mental health. Their music is the conversation of their daily struggles with their fans, with society, to educate and let people know what they are dealing with. I think the problem is, many consumers, CEO’s and owners of record labels rarely pay attention to the mental health of their artists or what their music is talking about or discussing. I think the lack of respect for hip-hop artists as true artists causes for many not to pay attention to their words, to their pain. Hip-hop artists become known for the popular persona, for the character that they have created through their music. It’s the person that’s always turnt, always sipping lean, taking a battle to the head, these are the people we dismiss as consumers and as friends.

Jordan Simpson (Twitter handle: @a_JBsoprano) discussed how hip-hop has always talked about mental health and mental illness in hip-hop, but how people commonly overlook these artists’ words. Check out a few of the quotes Jordan Simpson provided on his Twitter timeline below:

In the examples listed above from Jordon Simpson’s timeline, you are able to read and see lyrics from prominent artists whose songs and lyrics we have listened to time and time again, yet these are lyrics that are overlooked. These are lyrics that are glossed over and unseen by many. There was an article that came out when Kid Cudi announced checking himself into rehab where the headline said, “Why don’t hip-hop artists discuss mental illness more” or something similar to that. It is extremely infuriating when writers at prominent publications write headlines similar to this because this is coming from the perspective of someone who is not in tune nor listens to hip-hop. There is clear evidence that hip-hop artists are discussing and talking about mental health and mental illness, but the people who write articles such as these are choosing not to listen.

I’m glad that more and more people are discussing mental health and mental illness on a national platform, but also that there is more of a conversation regarding men of color and their mental health. From here this creates a bigger discussion that will allow for people to be educated on mental health and provide resources to others.

You can also read my post Mental Health in The Black Community.