Upcoming Hip-hop artists need counseling and mentorship.
The cut-throat industry they find themselves in does not protect the artist. Whether it is the record label or the radio, to them the artist is simply a product to be packaged for their business. Once their product loses its viability, it is on to the next one and artists are abandoned without any support.
I believe in order to help protect the younger artists, organic relationships need to be formed, with managers or executives who genuinely care for their artists and can offer them guidance and support in a ruthless industry.
It will not improve overnight, but for such a situation to occur there needs to be greater discourse, which will lead to progression, paving the way for action and eventually change.
Encouragingly, there is already great headway being made.
Veterans, like Jay-Z, are beginning to open up publicly and detail there past struggles with mental illness. There are now online shows, such as ‘The Therapist’, where artists talk about their vulnerabilities and what lies beyond their public persona. This is key to reducing the shame and stigma attached to seeking therapy, to prove to both artists and fans that seeking help does not make you weaker.
I repeat, dialogue is important.
Hip-hop itself is a form of therapy for the artist as it is an outlet to vent their emotions through their words, at a time when possibly no one else is listening or can empathize. For listeners, the music can be a form of escapism, to momentarily detach yourself from your troubles. Or the lyrics can be a place of solace and comfort.
There has been a marked improvement in using Hip-hop as a form of therapy. For example, the rise of initiatives, such as music executive Shanti Das’ ‘Silence the Shame’ or Hip Hop Psych, who aim to dismantle the stigmas associated with the taboo subject. Moreover, last year the hash tag #YouGoodtMan trended on Twitter after Cudi checked in to rehab, as fans looked to engage in discussions surrounding mental health.
The last month has been particularly prominent in regards to dialogue surrounding mental health in the culture. Controversial rapper XXXTentacion released his album, ’17’, which he dedicated to ‘depressed kids’. Logic performed his song ‘1800-273-8255’ at the VMA’s and made a heartfelt speech following his performance, which led to calls on the US suicide prevention helpline rising by 50%. Noticing this, Genius, an online media knowledge base, posted a video describing the state of mental health in Hip-hop, which already has one million views on YouTube, increasing online discourse and.
As a society, we are gradually heading in the right direction regarding mental health.
With Hip-hop’s growing influence, hopefully it can be the art form to lead the way.
Written by Ali Humayun