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Thursday
Oct062016

Kid Cudi & The New Road Of Rap's Mental Health - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: RunTheTrap

It’s only been a couple of days, but Kid Cudi’s open
letter to the public before he checked into rehab to
combat his ongoing struggle with depression and
‘suicidal urges’ has added more fuel to the fiery
conversation about mental health in the Black
community. And in some ways, it’s also crafted a
new road for Black men in particular with the rap
world being the vessel, evident through discussions
seen with the #YouGoodMan hashtag. The outpouring
of support Cudi has gotten, beginning with Kanye 
West who he had a publicized beef with just weeks
ago is heartening. And might not have been the 
case about a decade ago.

It aint hard to tell that this year in particular has
been alternatively triumphant and tragic for Black
people in America. Whether or not we each are in
a place to admit it or not, the struggle to just be
is that depending on how your situation is. In my
own case, I’ve grown to recognize and appreciate the
struggles of those dealing with mental health issues
in the community in all walks of life. Cudi’s letter 
and admission of his own issues parallels what I’ve
been witnessing for the past few years. Black people -
Black men now more than ever - are stepping up
and keeping it real as to how they are seeing and
dealing with the overt and covert pressures of life.
In doing so, they are slowly dismantling the years-old
precepts of not showing emotion. “Suffering in silence
is now being identified as truly harmful, yet it’s not
fully eradicated yet. This is mainly because a large 
number of folks in the community don’t have the 
means or access to clinical help as clinical depression
numbers have been on the rise.

Rap music has garnered many labels for itself, many
that focus on a mood that is a decadent and defiant 
bravado. A mood that can be translated in material 
means, from the “bling” era to “Money Aint A Thing”.
But for the past decade, we’ve seen more of the 
underbelly come through in rap. More of a deeper and
sometimes darker exploration of the inner workings
of the soul. Granted, you’ve had rappers and different
songs speak to these inner struggles in the past. Tracks
like Mobb Deep’s “Drink Away The Pain”, anything from
Scarface’s collection. Even Lil Wayne has dropped some
science on it. Kid Cudi’s own career has been essentially been
a juggling act of boisterous fun and clouded introspection.
Even now, you’ve got a slew of MC’s both popular and
not on the radar for contemporary rap who analyze these
issues of self and mental health like Kendrick Lamar,
Red Pill and Phonte among others. It’s vital in a time 
where state-sanctioned deaths of Black & Brown people
are dotting your television and social media feeds as if 
they were viral infomercials. It’s vital in a year where 
one of the presidential candidates has become poised to
totally turn the clock of American society back 50 years
and more if he and his base have anything to say about
it. To hell with reality TV, we need more of that reality rap.

Kid Cudi’s choice has laid more bricks down on a new road
in hip-hop culture. May he find the peace that he seeks,
and may his move help others to do the same. And the
next time you and your people link up whether it be a 
phone call, text or email, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re
good. Or afraid of the answer. You may just make a real
difference. 

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