Hip hop’s tough exterior has been softened by some of the most influential rappers in the game — Kid Cudi, Charlemagne and Logic, among others, are starting to open up on mental health.
My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember.
A glamorized lifestyle, illicit drug use, and pugnacious undertones have long prevailed as the base for hip hop lyrics. Rapper’s tales reiterate the notion needed for mental health advocacy in the hip hop community. The genre can represent the black community’s experience through its lyrics as a form of therapy; however, few seek or visit a psychologist or psychiatrist. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems; however, only about one-quarter will seek help according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.
Kid Cudi, Charlemagne, and Logic have spoken about the difficulties in treating their mental illness. Although striking, it isn’t typical for hip hop moguls to reveal such vulnerabilities.
Kid Cudi, also know as Scott Mescudi, publicly announced on Facebook that he checked into rehab in October 2016. He wrote in an open letter that, “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life.” A sense of guilt and trepidation is noted as he apologized for his current situation throughout his letter.
In January 2013, Kid Cudi disclosed he’d stopped taking antidepressants after a grim experience. He was prescribed medication after undergoing a mental breakdown from a relationship fall out, dealing with the loss of his father, and media scrutiny regarding fatherhood.
He felt healthier going off medication and sensed,“My brain went back to where it needed to be. I was able to analyze things and get my shit together,” he told Complex Magazine.
However, when it comes to creating music, he delights in the fact that he creates music to the beat of his own drum. He recognizes the pressures of the limelight and music executives. “I see things in my own way and execute them that way. Nobody really does that. People ask, What’s[albums] going to sell? What’s going to do this or what’s going to do that? It’s weak,” he told Complex Magazine.
His 2013 incident sparked a ray of hope, “I need to stop letting motherf*** break me down, and make me feel like shit. I got to be a little stronger for myself and for my family and my fans,” he told Complex Magazine.
After checking into rehab on October 2016, Kid Cudi emerged back on stage in Long Beach, CA in November 2016 where he told his fans, “I know life is crazy, (but) we can make it through. I am living proof,” according USA Today. This past June 2018, he since released a new album, Kids See Ghost with Kanye West.
Radio host Charlemagne tha God, also known as Lenard Larry McKelvey, released his “blueprint for breaking free from your fears and anxieties,” entitled Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me.
Charlemagne takes his rap lyric being “shook” to a new level by explaining how he must overcome these feelings that could be holding him back. He relays his years of therapy and dealing with anxiety to try to foster open communication about mental wellness. His book is summarized by “Getting help is your right. Therapy and showing weakness are not always easy subjects, but if you go to the gym three or four times a week, why can’t you put that same effort and energy into getting mentally strong?”
Charlemagne has emphasized that “mental health remains stigmatized in the black community due to the sheer lack of information.” He mentions his roots, that his mother went to therapy but he didn’t know until twenty years afterward.
Being able to talk openly about where to get help and how to access that help is vital. Charlemagne advocates for a change in our culture to be able to be more active in getting people the help they deserve.
He articulates, “I tell it too much, talk too much about the good, the bad and the ugly of my life and things that I’ve been through but it’s worth it at the end of the day – I really do feel like the universe rewards honest people.”
Logic, also known as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, continuously makes strides in his career with lyricism advocacy. Logic credits Kid Cudi, former tourmate, for inspiring him to reveal his own mental health struggles. “He was the dude that was like, ‘It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to talk about these things and go through these things,’” he told Zane Lowe.
Logic had first-hand experiences with anxiety, depression and derealization disorder – and an outer body experience following panic attacks. Extensive touring schedules and consistently putting out new music exhausted him. He expresses his own journey with anxiety in his song titled Anziety.
“I could sit here and think ‘I got all these people around me that I need to pay,’ which is true,” he told the New York Post. “But ain’t nobody getting paid if I’m dead.” The pressures of fame and success can appear overwhelming.
However, Logic is happy with what became his breakout hit, “because now the whole world knows who I am, they know what I represent, they know the message of peace, love, positivity,” he told Genius.
Hip hop’s music as a form of self-expression has slowly turned the page to self-awareness and mental health advocacy.