young rappers addiction and mental illness

Live Fast, Live Long: Young Rappers Speaking Out About Addiction And Depression

This entry was posted on .

If you call the phone number (800)273-8255, you’ll get access to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline[1], a confidential support organization to help people who are in distress. The number is also the title of one of rapper Logic’s newest songs. Huffington Post[2] reported that after the musician performed the song at the Grammy Awards in January 2018, the number of calls to the hotline tripled. While this is helping to dissolve the stigma associated with mental health issues such as addiction and depression, it also demonstrates the magnitude of the problem.

Logic’s message was that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with addiction and depression. He is right. More than 350 million people across the globe[6] suffer from the mental illness. Many young rappers are now opening up about the disease to help spread the word about the need for adequate support.

Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

No one is immune to the devastating effects of depression. Money can’t buy happiness, and even the rich and famous have battled mental illness.

The Grammys weren’t the first public performance during which a star has openly supported this cause. In 2016, Lupe Fiasco, Chance the Rapper and DMX prayed for Kanye West, who was hospitalized for severe depression and paranoia, according to Vibe[7]. Although reports claimed that Kanye’s troubled psychological state was brought on by dehydration and fatigue, he has battled mental ailments for a long time.

Fiasco explained that the rigorous demands of the rapper lifestyle can take a toll on anyone. When they’re not performing, musicians are often recovering from a show or preparing for the next performance. There isn’t always time for self-care. Many performers certainly don’t get mental health days.

During the same speech, Fiasco urged fans to be patient. After all, artists spend much of their time trying to make other people happy. This desire to please can take over, preventing stars from taking care of their own needs.


About a year before West was hospitalized for his condition, Kendrick Lamar opened up about his own struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies. In an MTV interview[8], Lamar discussed the lack of balance that young rappers have to deal with. Many of these stars were thrown into the limelight after coming out of humble roots. This can lead to guilt and feelings of helplessness when it comes to raising up their families and communities.

Feeling Guilt in the Face of Success

Rappers may also have to deal with the aftermath of deaths from violence and drugs. In 2006, Eminem became depressed after the murder of his friend Proof. The musician has always been open about his background and mental health issues.


Eminem came from a tumultuous broken household with little stability. As a child, he witnessed his own uncle’s suicide. As an adult, he tried to cope with the internalization of the trauma by taking drugs and resorting to violence.

Everyone has demons. Just one negative experience can leave you reeling. If you don’t know how to cope with stress and trauma in a healthy way, you can spiral into a cycle of out-of-control emotions. NPR[9] says that most people with depression don’t get the treatment that they need.

Sometimes, they avoid seeking help because they perceive depression as a personal weakness. Others don’t think that they can be helped. Lack of knowledge and education about psychological illnesses keeps many people in a dark place.

Hiding mental health conditions doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it can make the problem worse. Many people use drugs to escape from their destructive thought patterns. Failing to get care for a dual diagnosis can lead to less-than-happy endings.

(Continued after image…)

For example, Lil Peep allegedly died from a drug overdose when he was 21. Opioids and benzodiazepines were only some of the substances that were found in his system.

He claimed that he did not take medication for his depression, although he was open about his struggles with suicidal thoughts. He understood that he had a chemical imbalance in his brain and claimed to take drugs because of the pleasurable effects that they delivered.

Other rappers glorify drug use and partying in their lyrics. Still, many talk about how they use substance abuse as an escape from problematic patterns and ways of thinking.

This Los Angeles Times article[10] discusses rapper Vic Mensa’s contributions to the conversation. In his album “The Autobiography,” Mensa is forthright about his decline into the grip of addiction.

He even says that although many of his friends deal with similar psychological issues, they don’t openly discuss them. Mensa is sober now, and he talks about wishing that he had had access to addiction education and treatment programs earlier. He used 12-step programs, therapy and medication to launch his recovery, and he believes that at-risk youth should have access to therapists and psychological support in schools.

Credit: (Steve Russell/Getty Images)

Jay-Z has said the same thing[11]. In a CNN interview, the rapper mentioned how strong the stigma of seeking therapy is in the black community.

The music scene has perpetuated the myth that rockers should “live fast and die young.” However, many of today’s musicians are speaking out instead of glamorizing self-destructive behaviors. The messages resonate with many people who buy the albums, watch the videos and listen to the music.

Sharing their hurt and offering hope to others who are dealing with similar issues is one way that young rappers are helping to normalize mental health issues. At the very least, they’re putting their emotions into words, which is one step in the journey of self-discovery and healing. Continuing that path with the right blend of detox, therapy, healing and support is crucial for people who have a dual diagnosis of addiction and depression.















About the author: