Skip to content

Lauryn Hill, hip hop and mental illness

    Hip Hop & Its Poisonous Disregard For Mental Illnesses

    Contributor: Chakara

    For over 20 years the memory of stale hall ways and eggshell colored walls still remain embedded in my head from visiting my mother in a mental ward. The ups and downs of her life are things I can’t disregard, and today the hip hop culture almost takes a jokingly disregard to an illness that is spreading like a plague across many communities nationwide. Hip-hop and mental illness – listeners will hardly ever place the subjects beside one another, until their favorite artist is tucked carefully away dealing with the Jedi mind tricks of these awful diseases. My mother had her own cocktail of issues – depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. A person who is mentally ill often suffers from a variety of diagnosis. It’s nothing you can purposely ignore.  The time for hip hop to embrace resources and material for factual information on mental illnesses is now. With the funds of nonprofit organizations across America, drying up from blows handed down from representatives, as a culture we can do better with assisting our fellow brother or sister living with mental illnesses.

    A musical selection of emotions and empowerment, respect and just soulful music is what the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill provided for young women who enjoyed R&B/Hip-Hop music across the world. Recently, we’re drenched in stories providing assumptions of signs of ‘mental illnesses’ were being reason for her musical absence. Lauryn hill traveled mentally from being one of the sharpest and motivational artists in music, to someone who sporadically responds to media accusation thru a Tumblr page – providing rants that include dialogue that can’t be properly understood. Instead of worrying, empathetically – our hip hop family can be found daily placing jokes and unnecessary names on Lauryn Hill’s name. Instead of understanding the fruit Lauryn carried to widen the door for female hip hop, today’s hip hop connoisseurs would rather make jokes about how ‘weird’ the dresses, or the dialogue of her written letters. You see with the many mentally ill people out here, fighting to their ‘life’ back from the grasps of their own ‘unintentional’ thoughts. I just can’t laugh at Lauryn Hill. Thinking about her birth children who will face even more confusion, much more personally, than the rumor thriving worlds of social media, can’t allow me to ridicule or joke.

    Real or fake, true or false, rumors about Lauryn Hill and her ‘reason for going crazy’, as the public loves to mention, just don’t sit well with me. Being a child who witnessed their mother experience mental illness downs, can’t allow me to push the fact that mental illnesses affect the AA community to an extreme. There are so many harmful stigmas thriving frantically in the communities that need the most clarity on the issues. Just as the terrible HIV/AIDS stigmas keep our AA community in fear of ‘knowing their statuses and going to get tested, the stigma’s surrounding mental illnesses are far worse. Talking to a psychiatrist isn’t heard of in the communities where Hip Hop lives. In fact, doing things that seem abnormal is not ‘noted’ by our own, instead we ridicule on social media, laugh, imitate, and scream “it’s over” for even our favorite music contributors. Lauryn Hill dawns heavy on my conscious because of her present tax situations in the media, but please let’s agree upon the idea that mental illnesses have affected some of the craftiest and amazing artists we love. Just in 2011, trap music’s rapper Gucci Mane was sent to a psychiatric ward, upon the request of a judge.

    Whether we know the details surrounding his issues, is it really something to laugh at? Maybe a fair assumption would be because of his aggressive lyricism and ‘trap beats’ we’re not ‘allowed’ to provide empathy toward his health situations. Even Kid Cudi talked with Washington Post about his issues with mental illnesses earlier this year, and his actions should have had more ‘hip hop community’ push. Scarface, the South’s ‘grandfather of hip hop’ attempted suicide at the early age of 12 or 13, becoming institutionalized as a child. The south icon even co-penned a book discussing these details, entitled, ‘Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip Hop’.These are those who ‘lead’ us into this open world of rap music, where we’re free to express ourselves.

    As a genre, as fans, and as humans, we owe a little bit more respect to those who are dealing with the demons of mental illnesses. Let’s tear down the walls of stigma by educating ourselves on the hereditary factors of mental illnesses, its effects on families (especially children), instead of ridiculing conditions that must be medically controlled. After all, you never know whose life you may save.