Young men are seldom encouraged to speak about their mental issues. Showing vulnerability is often taboo in urban communities where residents are taught to be strong and hold their feelings in. Times change though, and more artists rap openly about mental conditions than ever before. So, how does rap music affect mental health?
Kick the Statistics
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed 125 songs released from 1998 to 2018. The study aimed to uncover a link between young men’s mental health and music. The researchers found many songs talked about suicide, depression, anxiety and used metaphors describing mental conditions. Researchers discovered 64% of the songs in 2018 had lyrics about those subjects, which was double the amount of songs that spoke of mental issues in 1998.
Accordingly, rap music often touches on topics like trauma, police brutality, losing friends to murder, suicide and betrayal. Statistics show that up to 90% of residents in urban communities battle lifelong trauma. 40% of the urban residents suffer from PTSD. G Herbo has an album called PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes
All in all, not everyone is raised to communicate what is going on inside mental health-wise. Some young adults are too proud to ask for help with conditions like depression. Despite a crisis line being one text away, there are no guarantees they will make that text and connect with someone to talk to.
Poor mental health can result from too much social media, addictions, and cancel culture. The effects of the pandemic, social distancing, poverty and racism are all factors at play causing mental distress. Depression and anxiety in the youth is at an all time high. Back in the day, the Geto Boys hit, Mind Playin Tricks On Me, scratched the surface of this topic. Scarface even spoke of manic depression. Presently, in 2022 we are hearing many more artists address mental conditions by name.
So What’s Good…
Despite the blunt reality of subject matter rap music can be quite inspirational. Everyone likes to see a comeback story. Hearing celebrities share personal experiences with mental health and overcoming those conditions is uplifting. Music that speaks a relatable language could be the deciding factor of if a young person feels all alone in this world or not. Furthermore, knowing someone out there shares the same pain can be motivation to reach out without feeling ashamed.
One researcher said, “Rap artists are among the most recognizable celebrities in the U.S., serving as role models to an increasingly diverse audience of listeners. Through their lyrics, these artists have the potential to shape mental health discourse and reduce stigma.”
More research has to be done to determine exactly how rap music affects the minds of the youth. Many adults agree these topics need to be expressed not suppressed. Still, it is important to realize the energy you put out is the energy that comes back to you. Maybe it is time to reverse this direction we are going. Maybe we need more positive messages in rap music. If you are feeling like you want to end your life, the homie Logic has a great song named 1-800-273-8255. Please call that number.