top of page

Mental Health in Hip-Hop

Music has long been a way for both creators and listeners to find an escape from reality, even if just for a short while. Many musicians have expressed themselves within their art, which provides a cathartic source of emotional regulation for not just the musician, but for the listener too. There has always been a connection between the artist and the listener, and hip-hop is no different.

Hip-Hop has always been a way for artists to express their thoughts, particularly with the rise of 'Gangsta Rap.' Through groups such as N.W.A, Geto Boys, Boogie Down Productions, and more, rap music become about telling stories of circumstance. Detailing the experiences of growing up in disadvantaged communities has enabled rappers to feel comfortable with being open. Through the 80s into the 90s rappers become more and more open to sharing their plight, which created a space for rappers to explore their mental wellbeing.

With many rappers originating from communities where discussing mental health holds a stigma, making songs where mental health is explored and highlighted has always been important. Raising awareness and showing you can be vulnerable no matter your position in life is valuable to breaking that stigma.

Here are some songs that explore mental health and detail difficulties within emotional wellbeing.

The Notorious B.I.G. - Suicidal Thoughts

Perhaps the most vividly expressive song on this list, Biggie phones his friend Puff Daddy to tell him he is about to take his own life. He details his feelings of isolation, not being loved by those close to him, and describes how he has been feeling in a very raw, poetic way. The song ends with a single gunshot and the phone dropping to the floor.

Tupac - So Many Tears

Tupac was a pioneer of rap music; a poet that led the way in embracing vulnerability whilst remaining connected to the streets. In this song Tupac shares the feelings he has felt as a result of his lifestyle and environment. Tupac expresses that he is feeling suicidal, and drops the powerful line "please Lord, forgive me for my sins, cos here I come."

Geto Boys - Mind Playing Tricks On Me

One of the most influential songs in hip-hop, in this track Geto Boys detail how living the 'gangsta lifestyle' has made them feel paranoid. Highlighting hallucinations and telling a story of how their mind plays tricks on them, this track set the pace for how to express yourself on a rap song.

Krept and Konan - Broski

This song from UK Rap duo Krept and Konan is a story about their really close friend, Nyasha 'Nash' Chagonda who took his own life in 2018. Suicidal ideation is something that is really hard to discuss, and in this song Krept and Konan both ask 'why?'

"Sometimes being strong ain't strong enough"

Mac Miller - Good News

Probably the saddest song on this list, 'Good News' is Mac Miller's first release after his death in 2018. Mac Miller was always open to making songs about his struggles with mental health, and this song really hits home given its posthumous release. Mac Miller states 'There's a whole lot more for me waiting on the other side.'

Joey Bada$$ - Black Beetles

Joey Bada$$ has cemented himself as one of the finest rappers of the modern generation of hip-hop, but in this song he expresses how perhaps this lifestyle isn't as great as he thought it would be. Joey shares his vulnerability and states he is 'low on self-esteem' in what was the most sombre track on a brilliant debut album.

Skepta ft Chip - Big

Skepta is arguably one of the greatest rappers this country has seen. And as one of the pioneers of the Grime scene, Skepta links up with the Grime scene saviour Chip to highlight the difficulties that come with fame. This track perfectly explores the realities and pressures that come with having a platform, and asks if you still want the lifestyle of fame of fortune.

"You're nobody until you got some haters, but you still wanna make it big?"

There are many other tracks that explore mental health and many that push you to explore your own alongside the artist. Music has always been a great source of therapy, for both the artist and the listener.

Check out His Mind's social media accounts to keep up to date with what we've got going on.

19 views0 comments


bottom of page