The Healing Power of Hip Hop
“If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul, to take. So please don’t cry, just know that I have made these songs for you” hip-hop artist Kid Cudi professes to his fans on his song “The Prayer”. As an artist, Kid Cudi is best known for his emotional undertones in his music. Each song painted with strokes of loneliness and vulnerability. This makes his music a great addition to the recipe of self-therapy. Especially for those fans and listeners who are trying to escape or understand their own emotions.
The Healing Power of Hip Hop
I was and am one of those fans. In Kid Cudi, when going through depression I was able to find a bit of myself. His songs helped me heal.
Kid Cudi has opened up about his own mental illness, which in return has opened up the path to recovery for his fans that are also going through hard times.
This is the healing power of hip hop.
Which makes me ask the question, what if hip-hop is the key to fighting mental health stigma?
“My mind is playing tricks on me” from the Geto Boys 1991 hit-single.
Depression is a roller-coaster, of both hopelessness and helplessness. My darkest days of depression were in my late teens and early twenties. I felt trapped, cemented in my fears, anxiety, and deteriorating happiness. At my lowest points, it would feel like the world was falling around me. A constant state of mind where all things seem out of my control.
My mind was playing tricks on me.
It would be the lyrics from my favorite hip-hop artists that would assist in getting to better understand what was going on between my two ears. While also helping me discover myself.
“Now hear this mixture, where Hip Hop meets scripture. Develop a negative into a positive picture” Lauryn Hill raps in her song “Everything is Everything”. Hip-hop has come a long way since its beginning. We live in a hip-hop world. There is no doubting hip-hop’s influence. Hip-hop is ingrained in our day-to-day-life from culture, business, politics, advertising, and technology. For its listeners and fans, hip-hop is a way of life and can symbolize their own self-aspirations.
Hip-hop often gets a bad rep for its glorification of violence and stereotypes of women. Although most people aren’t aware that within rap and hip-hop is also filled with lyrics of hope.
The lyrics of hip-hop can give a feeling of empowerment, and even self-knowledge. Which are both needed when battling depression.
When going through depression, the horrible thing is that you often don’t know why you’re feeling the emotions that you are feeling. It can seem like the only remedy is time. When at my lowest and weakest moments, if it wasn’t for the constant hours alone listening to Cudi, I wouldn’t have been able to take control of my happiness.
The lack of control is frustrating and if you don’t seek the proper help, it can lead you down a dark and tremulous path of despair.
I’ve been down that path. It was the beats and rhymes of hip-hop that gave me life and glimmers of hope. Each bar helped uplift me.
Hip-hop is Therapy
Many African-American men, like myself, refuse to, or prolong, seeking help for their mental illnesses. This is due to the stigma attached to mental health within the African-American community. The stigma and taboo that comes with depression can be seen as a sign of weakness. I didn’t want to be seen as weak so I talked myself out of therapy, out of denial. I would ask myself, why would I need therapy if I wasn’t going crazy? Leading to my depression going undiagnosed.
I was often told to ‘man up’ and to ‘get over it’. Even though by manning up, I could not escape the pain.
The only option was to resort to self-therapy, but, you define it.
Self-therapy for me was music, it was hip-hop.
When feeling depressed and down, the lyrics and songs of your favorite hip-hop artist can have a surprising healing power. They can give a feeling of positivity, each word helping you express whatever you’re feeling deep down.
I hide my problems. I know this, and those close to me, to be a major flaw and trigger to my depression. Hip-hop helps me examine the deep corners of my being.
Music has the power to change the conversation about mental health. This is especially true of hip-hop. Hip-hop has always been the purest expression of emotion and tends to put you in a feel-good state of mind.
Therapy is Gangsta
“Hip-hop is our therapy,” said rapper Prodigy.
The relationship between rap and therapy is evolving. For both the rappers and listeners alike. For the musicians, the artistry of hip-hop is their chance to be vulnerable in a hyper-masculine world that leaves very little room for vulnerability. Even Jay-Z, in his recent album “4:44” raps about his therapist, “My therapist said I relapsed… I said, perhaps I Freudian slipped in European whips.”
Rising star, Logic, has a hit single called “1-800-273-8255” which is in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The song is one of hope, awareness, and giving people a chance at life.
Rappers are beginning to find out therapy is in fact, gangsta.
From its beginning, hip-hop has always been about struggle. Most rappers come from environments that are plagued with violence and neglect. Often times, through their songs they tell their personal stories for us to hear. But, for rappers, by putting it down on pen and paper, the feeling is therapeutic. Writing helps them deal with bottled up emotions. Their songs describe their world to breaking free.
“Everything I’ve gone through, I’ve put in my music” as said by rapper Charles Hamilton.
Or they paint positive visual imagery, describing the places and people they want to be.
For the listeners, in each song, you can escape into a different world. Which always seems like it was created just for you. In which you immediately draw an emotional connection.
As I would when listening to Kid Cudi when feeling helpless or trapped inside my own mind.
“The moon will illuminate my room and soon I’m consumed by my doom” Kid Cudi ‘Soundtrack 2 My Life’.
The Healing Power of Hip-Hop
The music of hip-hop has been helping people for two to three decades and at least a decade for myself. The lyrics and context make it easier for those going through a personal struggle to connect to it and talk about it. I
Fans are drawn to the music because it can assist in developing an identity, belonging, and purpose.
What many don’t see is that hip-hop is more than just the bravado and braggadocio. It is also a positive force to help people develop, promote, and restore their mental health and social functioning. Making life easier for both the rapper and fan. When in a hopeless place, hip-hop can help you get through tough times.
Listening to your favorite rap song(s) can provide an escape that allows you to make sense of the feelings and emotions.
It has helped me understand my own vulnerability. It has made me resilient and has inspired to defeat my own challenges depression.
So put your headphones, for this world to ignore.
“Get to know yourself and really ask yourself the question you don’t want to hear” as said by Jay -Z.
The Healing Power of Hip Hop By:
Jeremy Divinity is a blogger, freelance writer, and digital marketer from Los Angeles. He writes and publishes on his personal blog which can be found at www.jeremydivinity.com.