Dealing with Depression: Isaiah Rashad’s Story is My Story
The minute the beat dropped on Isaiah Rashad’s song “Hereditary,” I was hooked. Maybe it was the ease of his voice or the production’s haziness, or how much he was able to say in only a minute and 30 seconds—whatever it was, I was completely enamored.
I listened to Cilvia Demo until I knew every hook and chorus, every beat, every intimate moment. At that point, in 2014, I was taken by Rashad in a way that I hadn’t yet felt with his labelmates. A coming-of-age story where Rashad dealt with substance abuse, parenthood, and maturation, among other personal motifs, there was a longing and loneliness in Cilvia Demo that resonated with me.
In between the hook, he spits on the only verse in “Hereditary,” “My daddy taught me how to drink my pain away / My daddy taught me how to leave somebody / My daddy taught me how to smoke my load and go / My daddy taught me you don't need nobody.”
Though my father didn’t teach me how to smoke and drink, the other two lines rang true for me. And while Cilvia Demo wasn’t an entry point for me to deal with my own shit, and while Rashad didn’t necessarily stress his own addictions, it certainly felt like some sort of stepping stone for him—for what was to come.
Last month, Rashad appeared on the Juan Epstein podcast to discuss his debut studio album The Sun’s Tirade, revealing that he’s been battling depression and substance abuse, and became addicted to Xanax and alcohol while touring with ScHoolboy Q in 2014. It was fairly shocking; and when the shock faded, it was admirable as hell.
The day after (August 31), Rashad appeared on Ebro in the Morning. Ebro was, of course, supportive of the Tennessee rapper, and commented, “I think, not only is it commendable for you to share, but I also think in some ways, may become therapeutic later. I think for people who have been waiting for you, and wondering, this answers that question for them,” later adding, “Also with that, we get to grow with you now. We get to root for you now… We gonna see this through.”
Rashad replied, “I ain’t expect nobody to be like, you know what I’m saying, ‘Glad you okay.’ Don’t wanna lose you type shit.”
In a new interview with Complex, Rashad was asked how he deals with depression on a regular basis, to which he said, “I take a lot of naps. I try to just be open. I guess I’m pretty candid all the time. The only way I could get through most stuff I’ve gone through is by talking about it. Being honest about it with myself, not speaking no bullshit to myself. Not saying stuff to myself just to say it.”
Rashad is aligned with the upper echelon of the rap world, signed to one of hip-hop's most noteworthy independent labels, and pals around with Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. Given such alliances, struggles with mental health and certain predilections might be hard for outsiders to fully comprehend. But once he revealed what he’s been dealing with, Rashad become one of us.
Like Rashad, I tussle with anxiety and depression—and like (the old) Rashad, it’s not something I talk about. But seeing one of my favorite emcees openly discuss his own depression and anxiety is compelling and respectful. And because of rappers like Capital Steez, Charles Hamilton, and Hopsin, discussing mental health within the realm of hip-hop isn’t so taboo.
While Cilvia Demo gave us a glimpse into Rashad’s mind, The Sun’s Tirade gave us something closer to the full picture. Though less coming-of-age, it does deal with similar themes as Cilvia Demo—but Rashad dives in head first. The Sun’s Tirade is even more bold and even more honest. In the same interview with Ebro, Rashad remarked, “The Sun’s Tirade is a long, hot ass rant. The longest day you could have.” That’s what having depression feels like—an unendingly long day.
Cilvia Demo allowed Rashad to open the door, but The Sun’s Tirade is where he really connects the dots—the moment where he could be unflinchingly sincere. His moment of truth has pushed me for my moment of truth, public admittance of something I sparingly admit to myself.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Art Credit: lexthexn