Let’s address the musical elephant in the room. Mumble rap is (subconsciously) drawing attention to mental health issues. The subject is gaining more and more recognition through artists like: Lil Uzi Vert, NAV and various others. These rappers have had a positive effect on people taking mental health seriously, especially the younger generations, but this factor seems to be a by-product of their music and not a main objective – as many think.
The correlation between this up-and-coming rap genre and mental health may be further explained through drugs. The relationship between the two, could be described as symbiotic. There is a possibility that music works as a form of escapism for many artists. The same could be said for substance abuse. In NAV’s single, Myself, released earlier this year – the Canadian rapper clearly states that he feels normal and a better person under the influence. This is not the only song where he expresses personal mental health issues. NAV shows symptoms of depression on his mixtape (produced by Metro Boomin), in particular- the song Call Me.
“Do you know how I feel, I feel alone. Bought myself a house to feel like I ain’t home”
The song revolves around a girl who won’t answer his calls. Similarly, Lil Uzi Vert also highlights the concern for his mental health in regards to a relationship. A well supported theory behind the hit, XO Tour Llif3, is that the lyrics depict the end of his relationship with his long-term girlfriend. After arguing with her, Lil Uzi contemplates suicide by shooting himself in the head. These lyrics are followed by the XXL Freshman, calming his suicidal thoughts with “Xanny” or Xanex. You starting to see a pattern?
This doesn’t mean that all rappers follows the same pattern. There are ways to consciously put mental health on a social pedastal without using yourself as an example. Logic made the Suicide Hotline number, 1-800-273-8255, a song title to prove this. The song talks about suicide not being an option or solution to a problem no matter how tasking or troublesome it may be. An example of this is the music video. A black teenager fears coming out as gay and considers suicide, rather than telling his family.
These comments are not being made to deduct any positive awareness that has arisen from these artists. Instead, it is important to highlight the trend that is forming in certain areas of the music industry and for what reasons. If anything, these cases are ones to learn from rather than condemn. Mental health is an elephant we can longer ignore.