Although the link between creativity and mental illness has been heavily embellished, there has always been plenty of overlap between the two on a purely anecdotal basis.
For as long as hip-hop has existed, there have been artists who have either hinted at or directly addressed their issues with mental health—from The Notorious B.I.G.’s tales of depression to Lil Wayne’s recent verse on Solange Knowles’ track “Mad,” in which he details a suicide attempt.
While hip-hop has been criticized for its lack of acknowledgment of mental illness on a large scale, artists like Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Joe Budden, Tech N9ne and countless others have done their part to bring the conversation to a larger audience through painfully honest lyrics and public acknowledgment of their personal battles.
Yesterday (October 9), TDE signee Isaiah Rashad—whose battle with depression and substance abuse is well-detailed in his music and interviews—took to Twitter to remind his fans that when it comes to struggling with mental illness, they are never alone.
Rashad's message couldn’t have come at a better time, as today (October 10) is World Mental Health Day, an internationally observed date with the goal of raising awareness of mental health issues on a global scale and empowering efforts to support mental health across the world.
The fact that artists like Isaiah are feeling more comfortable than ever addressing their personal experiences publically is huge, both for the artists themselves and the countless fans who have been raised to see artists as almost superhuman, immune to the struggles of the average person.
As fellow DJBooth contributor, Tara Mahadevan, recently detailed, Rashad’s newfound openness about his struggles with depression helped her to address and admit her own struggles, a story that’s true for more of us than one might expect.
Emotional relatability is a huge part of what makes music so powerful and given hip-hop’s influence, it has the potential to legitimately change the lives of countless people who seek solace in music.
While we as a society continue to struggle with both identifying and treating mental health issues, artists like Isaiah Rashad are providing their following with a meaningful reminder that the first step for many is admitting that help is needed.
We all need help sometimes, and we’re never alone. It’s a universal truth, but sometimes we still need a reminder.