It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and as usual, hip hop is silent. While the industry has made great strides in releasing the stigma of mental illness, with artists like Kid Cudi and Chance the Rapper openly discussing their inner demons this year, the subject remains the biggest elephant in the room.
The media and fans may not have picked up on all of the warning signs, but it turns out a lot of our favorite rappers have been crying out for help the only way they know how to–through their music. But for some reason, they continue to go unnoticed.
1. Notorious B.I.G – “Suicidal Thoughts”
The final track on Biggie’s Ready to Die album should have been a serious wake up call to hip-hop. The somber track painted a scene of of a phone between B.I.G and Puffy, in which he was contemplating suicide. As Puff is trying to calm him down, the late rapper shares his final words. “I reach my peak, I can’t speak Call my nigga Chi / tell him that my will is weak / I’m sick of n***as lying, I’m sick of b****es hawkin’ / Matter of fact, I’m sick of talkin’,” he raps before a single gunshot fires.
2. DMX – “Slippin”
DMX, who recently checked himself into a rehabilitation center for health concerns, was literally calling out for help on his 1998 single. On the song’s hook, he repeatedly says, “Ay yo I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I can’t get up Ay yo I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I can’t get up.” Furthermore, he lists the piling issues that have him feeling overwhelmed, including problems with his child’s mother and greedy acquaintances.
3. Kanye West – “Clique” / “Yikes”
After the death of his mother, Donda West in 2007, Kanye was visibly a mess. He often cried during his performances of “Dear Mama” during his 2008 Glow in the Dark Tour. And in 2012, he further revealed that he had suicidal urges. “Went through, deep depression when my mama passed, suicide, what kinda talk is that,” he raps. Kanye also revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder on his single “Yikes,” off his his 2018 studio album, Ye. “That’s my bipolar shit, nigga, what? / That’s my superpower, nigga, ain’t no disability
/ I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero,” he raps.
4. Lil Wayne – “Mad”
Complex Magazine’s 2006 cover story asked the question “Is Lil Wayne Crazy” (an ode to VIBE’s 1994 cover featuring Tupac with the same headline), but no one asked the question is Lil Wayne okay. On Solange’s No. 1 album, A Seat At The Table, Tunechi revealed his battles with depression. ” I wear this f***ing burden on my back like a cap and gown… And when I attempted suicide, I didn’t die,” he raps.
5. Kid Cudi – “The Prayer”
It should not have been much of a shock when Kid Cudi checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges in Oct. 2016. The rapper has always been vocal about his issues through his music. On his 2008 mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, he candidly spoke about how he felt alone and that his mind is always racing. He also speaks about dying and his funeral.
6. Kendrick Lamar – “U”
On K.Dot’s confessional track from his 2015 album, To Pimp A Butterfly, the Compton rapper quite simply addresses his mental illness, admitting, “I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.”
7. Joe Budden – “Only Human”
Joe may be a problematic TV personality, but he has been advocating for mental health awareness in hip hop for awhile now. In addition to his occasional tweets regarding the subject, he has also spoke about his own battles with addiction and ill thoughts on his 2015 single.
8. Logic – “Anziety”
Logic’s latest album, Everybody is a refreshing compilation of thoughtful rhymes and glorious beats. But more importantly, he calls out the industry for turning its back on mental illness. “People in the street going ape s**t Battling depression but nobody wanna say s**t.”
9. Isaiah Rashad – “AA”
The TDE artist used his 2016 album as a way to address his battles with alcohol and drug addiction and anxiety. Shortly after its release, he issued words of encouragement to other people battling demons. “Don’t go through the problems in your head alone. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. The worst thing to do is think ur alone in it,” he tweeted in Oct. 2016.
10. Scarface – “Mind Playing Tricks 94”
On Scarface’s 1994 track, he basically give fans an inside look at his diary, revealing his struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicide. “Dear diary, I’m havin’ a little trouble with my mind state How many bullets would it take to change my mind? wait /’Sometimes I want to end it but I don’t though / They tell me see my pastor but I don’t go,” he raps.