Kid Cudi has been a huge asset to Hip Hop by opening up about his battle with mental health both in his songs and outside of the studio. His lyrics give the listener a rare glimpse into the darkest corners of the mind of someone battling with mental health issues and addiction. Cudi isn’t the first rapper to do this. Biggie Smalls’ Suicidal Thoughts, Isaiah Rashad’s Heavenly Father, and Logic’s 1-800-273-825 are some examples of songs explicitly discussing of mental health in Hip Hop. However, in a culture where vulnerable emotions are rarely expressed, it’s refreshing to hear an artist who isn’t afraid to show that its okay not to be okay.
Please Don’t Play This Song:
Wanna know what it sounds like when I’m not on drugs?
Please please don’t play this song r-r-r-r-right r-right r-right right right
Trynna get my mind m-mind m-mind right right
Themes of loneliness, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts are stringed throughout Cudi’s discography. It’s easy to spot the parallels between real life and his art since, in interviews he’s openly spoken about his depression and anxiety, leading to a number of personal and relationship issues.
Even his biggest hit “Day N night” (Crookers Remix) is a tale of the lonely protagonist’s daily attempts to shake away his heavy feelings of grief using drugs. Ironically the darkness of this story is completely lost hidden under an upbeat electro pop instrumental. The dynamic beats and light hearted music video make it difficult to identify the lyrics as a potential cry for help.
Day N’ Night:
‘Cause day and night
The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night
He’s all alone through the day and night
The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night (at, at, at night)
Once the bouncy instrumental is stripped away we’re left with a poem about loneliness and paranoia. Artists like Future, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar have made a number of club bangers about drug abuse and depression yet fans are shocked when a couple months later its announced that their favourite artist has been admitted to rehab or diagnosed with a mental health condition.
I don’t have nobody
But what I might feel are the sounds of sanity
Hoping what I hear, loops itself continuously
Then I won’t be afraid
Music is an awesome way to spread positivity, especially when you have the power to influence millions of fans.
Kid Cudi says that he makes music in hope that he will help somebody somewhere, send a message that “the kids need to hear”, he often says. In interviews, the artist passionately expressed how he rejects the typical grandiose rapper image and intends to be a figure his listeners can relate to. In 2016 Cudi publicly announced his decision to go to rehab via Facebook, apologising to his fans for letting them down and promising to work towards getting better. This was a huge moment for the conversation around mental health in Hip Hop.
Despite its often melancholy themes, Cudi’s music isn’t about wallowing in the lows but instead accepting them for what they are and pushing forward nonetheless.
I had my issues, ain’t that much I could do
But, peace is something that starts with
Me, with me
At times, wonder my purpose
Easy to then feel worthless
But, peace is something that starts with me
Written by Savannah