Rap music is often associated with its high-energy beats, clever wordplay, and larger-than-life personalities. However, beneath the surface of this popular genre lies a deep and often raw exploration of the human experience. One area where rap music has particularly shone a light is in the realm of mental health issues.
Through their lyrics, rappers have tackled topics such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma, providing a voice for those who may feel silenced or stigmatized. By openly discussing their struggles and experiences, these artists have helped destigmatize mental health issues and promote a message of hope and healing.
So, whether you’re a longtime fan of rap music or a newcomer to the genre, you’ll find that many of its most powerful and moving songs address the very real challenges of mental health in a way that is both honest and uplifting.
1. “Yikes”- Kanye West (2018)
From his album “Ye”, the song “Yikes” was produced by Kanye West himself as it features a minimalist beat and dark, brooding lyrics that tackle various issues on mental health, drug addiction and paranoia.
In the song, Ye alludes to his struggles with bipolar disorder, referencing his diagnosis and the impact that his symptoms have had on his life and relationships. The song also touches on themes of violence, anxiety, and the pressures of fame.
2. “Proud of You”- Lil Uzi Vert (2021)
The song was released from his album “Eternal Atake(Deluxe)- LUV vs. The World 2” and touches base on mental health issues, loss and resilience.
Lil Uzi Vert raps about his struggles with mental health and the losses he has faced, including the death of his friend and fellow rapper Juice WRLD. Despite these challenges, he expresses a sense of pride and resilience, celebrating his ability to persevere through difficult times.
The chorus of “Proud of You” features Lil Uzi Vert repeating the line “I’m so proud of you,” conveying a message of self-affirmation and encouragement. The song’s overall message is one of positivity and self-love, promoting the importance of resilience and finding strength in difficult times.
3. “Suicidal Thoughts”- The Notorious B.I.G (1994)
The song was from his debut album “Ready to Die”, which was released in 1994 and features a somber, haunting beat that complements the song’s introspective lyrics.
In the song, The Notorious B.I.G. reflects on his struggles with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. The lyrics are deeply personal and raw, with the rapper expressing a sense of hopelessness and despair in the face of his emotional struggles.
Throughout the song, The Notorious B.I.G. addresses a range of issues related to mental health, including the stigma surrounding mental illness, the difficulty of opening up to others about one’s struggles, and the importance of seeking help and support.
The song has also been noted as a landmark moment in hip-hop, with its frank discussion of mental health breaking down barriers and helping destigmatize discussions around mental illness in the genre.
4. “U”- Kendrick Lamar (2015)
The song was released from the album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, in “U.” Kendrick Lamar delivers a deeply personal and emotional reflection on his struggles with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. The lyrics are raw and introspective, with Lamar expressing a sense of guilt and shame over his perceived failings and the pressures of fame and success.
Throughout the song, Lamar addresses a range of issues related to mental health, including the stigma surrounding mental illness, the difficulty of opening up to others about one’s struggles, and the importance of self-care and self-love.
5. 1-800-273-8255 (2017) – Logic, Alessia Cara & Khalid
The song title is actually a phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The song is conversational, and it starts out with the message that the singer does not want to live and does not think his life matters.
In the song, Logic raps from the perspective of someone contemplating suicide, addressing themes of depression, hopelessness, and the struggle to find a reason to live. Alessia Cara and Khalid contribute to the song’s chorus, which reassures the listener that they are not alone and encourages them to reach out for help.
The song’s title and lyrics helped to raise awareness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which saw a significant increase in calls following the song’s release.
6. “Lucid Dreams”- Juice Wrld (2018)
As part of his “Goodbye & Good Riddance” album, Juice WRLD released “Lucid Dreams,” which reflects on a failed relationship and the pain that it caused him.
The lyrics address themes of heartbreak, regret, and the struggle to move on from a past love. The title “Lucid Dreams” refers to the dream-like state in which the rapper finds himself, unable to escape the memories and emotions associated with his past relationship.
7. Deep Reverence”- Big Sean & Nipsey Hussle (2020)
In “Deep Reverence,” Nipsey Hussle and Big Sean reflect on their struggles with grief, trauma, and the pressures of fame. The lyrics address mental health, self-care, and the importance of prioritizing one’s well-being in the face of adversity.
The song is particularly notable for being one of Nipsey Hussle’s last recorded collaborations before his tragic death in 2019. The song’s release posthumously pays tribute to the rapper’s legacy and impact on the world of hip-hop.
8. “So Many Tears”- Tupac (1995)
The song was released as part of his album “Me Against the World.” In the song, Tupac reflects on the struggles of his life, including his experiences growing up in poverty and his encounters with violence and injustice. The lyrics address pain, loss, and the search for hope in the face of adversity.
The song has been noted for its emotional depth and vulnerability, with Tupac’s raw and powerful delivery conveying a sense of urgency and authenticity.