5 rappers speaking up about mental health

rappers and mental health

Artwork by Ashee Brunson, Frankie’s Mind, Marcus Lane Print Shop, Its Livai and Misha Korablin

The rap community hasn’t shied away from much in it’s lyrics. Tough topics like sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty and crime have all been well documented through rap music. What was once an up and coming niche genre is now the most mainstream it’s ever been and all ears and eyes are on rappers.

It’s hard to stay healthy when you’re an artist.

All the things that seem fun at first glance, like catching flights to perform all over the world, hosting afterparties, and entertaining groupies can be really draining on your mind and body. Self-care is tough; it’s especially tough when you’re constantly out of your environment and in a different city each night.

Rap has gotten more in touch with it’s feelings over the last few years and rappers are opening up about their struggles with mental health. It’s tough to admit you’re feeling down and not yourself, especially in a high-octane ultra-masculine genre like rap music. Rappers speaking out about their mental health struggles hopefully comforts their teen fans and lends inspiration to start these conversations in their circles.

Recently, Chance the Rapper pledged $1 million dollars towards greater access to mental health services in Chicago. The announcement comes after his admission of dealing with PTSD and anxiety after the death of close friends. Chance has also been a very vocal advocate of his friend Kanye West, whose mental health issues have made headlines all year.

Here are 5 rappers that are speaking out about their own mental health issues

  1. Kid Cudi – Cudder disappeared for awhile and fans were left wondering what the hell happened. He came back in 2016 with a lengthy Facebook post in which he described his time in rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts. Cudi was one of the first to speak candidly about how anxiety has made it difficult for him to trust people throughout his life and how his paranoia was once so bad he was afraid to leave his house.

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  2. Logic – Calls to the suicide prevention hotline spiked when Logic performed his touching song about suicide at this year’s Grammy awards. The track 1-800-273-8255 which is also the number for the National Suicide Prevention centre, features Alessia Cara and Khalid and addresses dark but relatable thoughts. Logic was inspired by Kid Cudi to speak openly about his own lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety.

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  3. Kanye West – Kanye is the most prolific rapper to speak about his mental health struggles and also have them play out in the media. Kanye opened up to his fans after being inspired by his close friend and collaborator Kid Cudi. Kanye has rapped about seeking therapy and being on antidepressants in his 2016 album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ and recently went on TMZ where he discussed his lengthy hospital stay where he was treated for bipolar disorder.

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  4. Eminem – It’s unsurprising that many people self medicate through drugs when their mental health issues go untreated and this is how Eminem coped for nearly two decades. The rapper has been vocal about his addiction to prescription pills both in his music and interviews. He kicked his habit in 2008 and credits his sobriety with clearing his mind of cluttered thoughts.

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  5. Danny Brown – Danny Brown may seem like he’s always hype and in a great mood but he’s been very open with his fans about his experiences with depression and sleep issues due to anxiety. He’s admitted that his prior rampant drug use was to numb himself so he didn’t feel these issues as deeply and has repeatedly encouraged his fans to seek help if they’re going through the same things.

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This article is inspired by World Mental Health Day and was originally published on Vellum’s blog –  SMOKE + MiRRORS.

Where We’d Go? The Screen Girls Return After Working on Vellum Wellness

We’re Back…
After a long break, The Screen Girls return

Its been 588 days since we last shared anything with you guys. At the time, we had no idea our last radio show, on April 20th, 2018 would actually be our last show.

Since then, we’ve been working on expanding Vellum Wellness. What started off as a way to ‘stay moisturized between the joints’ turned into a complete wellness line, with products designed to unite your mind and body.

The Vellum brand is heavily influenced from our time as Screen Girls and our late nights covering shows and interviewing artists. It was during our time shooting and editing for The Screen Girls that we discovered what wellness meant to us. It was tough with only two of us, going out every night to cover the latest rap shows and snag interviews. Each night, we fell asleep knowing that our sleep hygiene was suffering and our overall sense of well being was slipping away from us.portrait file
How The Screen Girls Inspired Vellum Wellness

So much of what inspired the Vellum brand was the journey of artists we met along the way as Screen Girls. Staying physically healthy on tour is a challenge, and with the current state of the world today, staying mentally healthy is even more challenging. We’ve long praised the benefits of cannabis sativa for both the mind and body, and it felt natural for us to include a form of this magical plant in our first formulated product – Elevate Hemp Hand Lotion. We’re so proud of this unique formula we created in conjunction with our team of experts, and even more proud to present our first full collection: Mental Essentials.

Mental Essentials is a collection of 100% pure essential oils designed to reflect your mood and emotions. A strong appreciation of art is at the cornerstone of our brand values, so we worked with LA based artist MRBBABY and commissioned hand painted illustrations of the oils personified into characters. The idea is that when you inhale the oil, and reflect upon the artwork, your mind and body work together to explore the mood the oil is praised for. We found Lavender Oil to work wonders at restoring our night routines.

Although our time at CiTR 107.9 fm has come to an end, we’re just getting started with Vellum and we’re so excited to share updates with you along the way. We’ll still be covering artists, but this time we’ll be focusing a little more on their self care processes, for all the latest updates, follow @vellumwellness on social media (Twitter, IG, FB) and check out the blog SMOKE + MiRRORS. While you’re at it, pick up some products to get started on your wellness journey and use the code TSG18 for 40% off your first purchase (code valid until December 31st, 2018).

The Screen Girls Work on Vellum Wellness and present Mental Essentails

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PENCIL FINGERZ PRESENTS HIS PORTRAITS IN “ALL MY CREATIONS”

Pencil Fingerz first caught our attention with his renderings of celebrated rappers and influential figures of our time. He’s been working hard, building up a roster of rapper clients, who are fans of his drawings, done by Wacom tablet. He put on his exhibit “All My Creations” at Fortune Sound Club, and we were treated to an up close look at his art over the past few years.

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Yelawolf is one of PENCIL FINGERZ longest collaborators. The pair have worked on the Slumadian and Slumerican Made your posters, and merchandise. A drawing of Yelawolf, his middle finger prominently on display during Pencil Fingerz art show in Vancouver.

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It’s been less than a year since Pencil Fingerz moved from rural Chilliwack, to Vancouver, and he’s been busy making moves since. His first art show in the city, marked his presence as a Vancouver artist, and it was touchingly well attended by friends and family who came out to show love for their hometown boy.

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Check out review of his debut Vancouver show on Episode 36 of TSG:OA

 

 

Day 1 at Osheaga Music and arts Festival

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is Canada’s most sophisticated music festival. It takes place around the sweltering last weekend of July each year, and delivers a cool lineup of local, Canadian and international talent. Fodor’s Travel voted Osheaga as one of the top 15 music festivals in the world, and it attracts over 140,000 people annually. Each year, Parc Jean-Drapeau, an expansive park on St. Helene island in Montreal, is transformed into a music and arts haven, for festival goers of all ages. The location of the festival is unique in that it’s provides an outdoor, nature heavy space, but is just one metro stop away from the core of Montreal and all it’s amenities.

Now in it’s 11th year, Osheaga has over 100 acts performing over three long, hot days. This year, local talent included bands like The Damn Truth, The Barr Brothers, Kaytranada and Grimes. The marquee headliners this year were history making, with Radiohead taking the stage on the last night, a conquest that Evenko Nick Farkas had been eyeing since the festival began. Other headliners included singer Lana Del Rey and ’90s rockers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 

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The River and Mountain Stages, where the headliner’s played nightly, was always filled to the brim with people.

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A gaggle of people sit underneath one of the many colourful art installations.

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A hallmark of Parc-Jean Drapeau, and a lookout from the water onto the city centre.

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Art melted seamlessly into nature at Osheaga.

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Lots of interesting lines and textures to be seen at Parc Jean Drapeau.

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The park is very expansive and the concerts are spread out across the park.

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Some installations shone brighter at night.

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Osheaga feels like a grown up Disneyland, like there’s magic in the air.

Canadian illustrator Pencil Fingerz is making his mark on hip hop

Pencil Fingerz Davis Graham

(Pencil Fingerz)

The hip hop core community has changed significantly from what it was, during its sudden birth in the ‘70s.  As with all great cultural movements, hip hop evolved as it made it’s way from a niche – a few men beat boxing and emceeing in the streets of South Bronx – to finding a global audience through radio play giving a popular voice to black artists and changing the landscape of music in a way that still resonates today. As Kanye West declares he’s the biggest rockstar on the planet, rap has replaced pop music, brands are shelling big dollars for product placements in songs, and every pop starlet from Ariana Grande to Selena Gomez has sought out a rapper for a feature to edge up their sound.

Hip hop and rap’s ability to connect people through little more than bass and lyrics has attracted lifelong fans (and brands) from different environments and all corners of the planet. Everyone’s trying to cash in on the culture, whether it’s Hillary Clinton dabbing to Fetty Wap on the Ellen show or fast food chains tweeting about rappers feuding online. Social media has made it possible for anybody from all over the world to participate in the culture but true fans of the genre are now able to connect and actually influence their favourite artists. 

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(Andre 3000 drawn by Pencil Fingerz)

One of these lifelong fans is Pencil Fingerz, a digital artist, illustrator and painter who resides in the rural Canadian town of Chilliwack. While his environment is more suited for country music than rap, his portfolio includes: a music video for CJ Fly, tour posters for Yelawolf and Mick Jenkins, and album covers and more for Rittz. One of Pencil Fingerz longest ongoing collaborations is with The Underachievers and was sparked after Issa Gold spotted Pencil’s portrait of Andre 3000, with roses sprouting from his mind. 

Pencil’s exposure to rap began by chance when he first found a stray Eminem CD on the ground. It was that serendipitous moment that ignited a respect for the culture. After Eminem, he fully immersed himself into early 00’s hip hop, and often reflects on this era, with portraits of artists, like Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Since then, he’s honed both his artistry as well as his appreciation for hip hop and has injected himself into the culture, by producing art for some of his favourite artists.

Since meeting Issa online, Pencil has collaborated with The Underachievers to produce covers for their Cellar Door, Evermore: The Art of Duality albums and their latest mixtape, It Happened in Flatbush. Under Issa’s instruction, he’s even drawn himself into the artwork for the latter, shown smiling and laughing, amongst the rest of Issa and AK’s inner circle. Not bad for a young kid working from a small town in Canada.

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(It Happened in Flatbush cover art by Pencil Fingerz)

He’s amassed quite a following on his Instagram, where he posts lifelike portraits of public figures like Chance the Rapper, Will Ferrell, Audrey Hepburn and Pickachu, replete with a blunt in his hand.  With talent, a Wacom tablet, a bit of Photoshop, and a rich portfolio of  illustrations of all the rap gods from the golden era and beyond, Pencil Fingerz has since become quickly sought after, for up and coming artists looking to incorporate his signature pencil drawings into their brand. 

We spoke with Pencil Fingerz, on our radio show and discussed his favourite works, his creative problem solving with Chance the Rapper’s management and his collaboration with Complex magazine.

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(Evermore: The Art of Duality cover art by Pencil Fingerz)