Last year, Kid Cudi went on Twitter to announce that he was going to check himself into rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts. This post sparked an outcry from many male Kid Cudi supporters on Twitter. Cudi’s post shined light on this “sensitive” topic mainly because people often believe that hip-hop artists don’t usually discuss mental health.
According to The Kim Foundation (http://www.thekimfoundation.org/suicide-facts.html), 26.2 percent of people in the U.S. over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. That’s roughly one in four adults nationwide, annually. In fact, mental disorders have been the leading cause of disability in both the U.S. and Canada among people between the ages of 15 and 44.
Rappers like Notorious B.I.G., DMX, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Uzi Vert and Xxxtentacion have openly rapped about their underlying mental-illness symptoms. The interpretation of these songs are often swept under the rug because many people listen to rap just for the beat and the hype.
In B.I.G.’s song, “Suicidal Thoughts” he said, “The stress is building up, I can’t, I can’t believe suicide’s on my f***ing mind, I wanna leave, I swear to God I feel like death is f***ing calling me. Naw, you wouldn’t understand.”
On the final track of Biggie’s “Ready to Die” album, the topic of suicide had its first showing. Never before has rap discussed such a raw, eye-opening subject. This somber track painted a scene of a phone call between B.I.G. and Puffy, in which B.I.G. was contemplating suicide. As Puff tries to calm him down, the late rapper shares his final words: “I reach my peak, I can’t speak.”
“I think there is a direct correlation between rap and mental illness,” SUNY Plattsburgh psychology major Thomas Hanlon said. “Rappers are trying to bring awareness to it because they have the platform for it.”
On rapper Kendrick Lamar’s confessional track from his 2015 album “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Lamar address mental illness, admitting, “I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.” Evidence of mental illness is also shown in Lamar’s song, “Swimming Pools.” In the song, he states, “OK, now open your mind up and listen to me, Kendrick. I’m your conscience, if you do not hear me, then you will be history, Kendrick. I know that you’re nauseous right now and I’m hopin’ to lead you to victory, Kendrick.”
“Kendrick Lamar really opened my eyes to how much rappers go through mentally,” SUNY Plattsburgh finance major Levance Jackson said. “He actually raps about real life problems and it’s important people soak in his lyrics.”
In a world where rappers give little to no information about themselves due to the media, one can only wonder about their opinions on the harsh reality of hip-hop.
Another rapper, Lil Uzi Vert, sparked conversation among fans on Twitter after releasing his song, “xo tour Llif3.” The song states, “She said I’m insane yeah, I might blow my brain out. Xanny numb the pain yeah. Please, Xanny make it go away. I’m committed, not addicted but it keep controlling me. All that pain now I can’t feel it, I swear that it’s slowing me.”
According to genius.com (https://genius.com/Lil-uzi-vert-xo-tour-llif3-lyrics), this song, produced by TM88, features Uzi rapping about relationship issues with his longtime girlfriend, Brittany Byrd. The track takes a dark turn when Uzi recalls a conversation the two had. He is basically rapping about wanting to break up with his girlfriend but not being able to because he doesn’t want to feel upset. His breakup hesitation, according to genius.com, resulted in heavy drug use.
Rapper Xxxtentacion took to social media to discuss the topic of depression after losing a close friend. Xxxtentacion posted that his friend Jocelyn committed suicide after visiting him a few days earlier. In a video he posted on Instagram he said, “It f***ed me up so bad to where obviously I wasn’t on social media for the last few days unless I was addressing something I needed to. Her name is Jocelyn. It’s hard to come from where she came from to be battling with suicide for so long, and be battling with depression for so long, and to kinda feel a step away from it, and see it happen right next to you. To feel so useless and powerless. It’s overall a really sad situation.”
Another rapper, Logic, uses his platform to bring awareness to suicide. In his 1-800-273-8255 music video, he explains the story of a young African-American boy who was attracted to someone of the same sex. The video also shows his life, living with an extremely homophobic family. In a story on usatoday.com, staff writer Sara Moniuszko writes, “The video reaches an emotional peak as the young boy finds a gun in his home and contemplates suicide. After deciding to call someone instead, we see a flash forward to the young boy as a grown man marrying another man and later raising a child together.”
“Logic’s song “Anziety” has helped me more than I thought it would,” SUNY Plattsburgh student Matthew Dorn said. “He is a lyrically good artist, and to know he battles and handles anxiety so positively helps me.”