Does Hip-Hop Take Mental Health For Granted?

Kehlani Capital Steez mental health

I have never thought about killing myself, but hearing Biggie’s “Suicidal Thoughts” for the first time helped thrust me into that headspace. Especially considering the bitter irony of the song landing on Ready To Die, fans weren’t considering their favorite artist’s feelings 20 years ago, either.

Being in the public eye is stressful enough without throwing the burden of mental health into the mix; but the internet continues to find ways to exacerbate stress to ridiculous levels. Earlier this week, R&B singer Kehlani was driven to the brink of suicide after internet blowback from fellow singer PARTYNEXTDOOR sharing a picture of the two of them in bed together, while she was still seeing Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Memes flew recklessly the whole day and the less said about the well-intentioned but now caustic #StayStrongKehlani, the better. Our constant search for jokes, combined with archaic views on sexual freedom and hot takes straight from the Man Laws bible, pushed yet another celebrity already on the record saying she occasionally blacks out her social media for her own health over the edge. And that scares the shit out of me.

Kehlani IG


There are more factors at play here than I fully understand that lead so many people like Kehlani to consider taking their lives, and many artists communicate those feelings of anguish through their works. And at the same time, some don’t. We all cope in different ways, but the ultimate goal is to get well and move on, right? Imagine all the grief and turmoil that Little Simz put into last year’s A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons; hearing it is one thing, but living with society’s pressures as a woman of color is indescribable.

Many people still don’t understand that, especially Chris Brown, who chucked stones from his glass balcony late last night by outright saying that Kehlani’s incident was her “flexing for the gram.”

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Between Chris Brown’s flippant ass and Troy Ave’s tasteless diss track/video aimed at the late Capital Steez (and the legions of people on their side), it’s miraculous that artists still have the bravery to come out with their problems at all. We’re so quick to consume themes of depression and suicide at arms length on an album, but once they creep into real life, we tend to fall silent or dismiss/mock those we once bonded with over the same thing.

Some are still in denial over whether or not legendary A&R Chris Lighty killed himself or not back in 2012, and close friends of Freddy E refused to talk about his death in 2013. Understanding is the only way we can not only come to terms with our own grief, but help others through theirs, too. No one should have to feel that life’s not worth living just because of who they choose to love, especially when that info was leaked by someone else. I’m no expert when it comes to depression, but it shouldn’t take one to know that a little empathy goes further than you might think. 

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