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Three Hip-Hop Artists Give Their Thoughts On Creativity, Depression, and Mental Health

 

Mental health is becoming an increasingly more prevalent subject in the hip-hop community as even mainstream artists are speaking on its importance. We have seen artists like Kendrick Lamar reflect on his own experiences in records like “U,” a revealing track that illustrates his inner struggles that many can empathize with. And of course in the existence of ample musicians ranging from mainstream to independent, many of which have been featured on our site and shed some light on the subject of mental health. Hip-Hop is in a place where artists and their audience are more open to speaking about mental illness and insecurity than ever before, which is why we thought it would be a great idea to talk to about creativity and mental health by asking a few select artists three simple questions:

1.If you could, how would you characterize depression? 2. How does your mental state affect your creativity? and 3. How do you cope with depression and attempt to stay sane? Are there any specific thoughts or things that lift you up when you’re feeling low?


 

We choose to talk to Michael Da Vinci, a Chattanooga artist who personified his alcohol reliance on “40oz,” Angelo Mota, a New Jersey rapper/producer who has boldly spoken about his battles with depression and anxiety on albums such as House Of Diamonds, and lastly, rapper BZZY who delivered one of the most compelling rap albums of the year in Before I Jump.

 

Michael da Vinci

If you could, how would you characterize depression?

I would characterize depression in my personal opinion as a mental disorder that can feel like a disease at times when that is all you’ve known your life. Some people are born with a lack of happiness within themselves and others may have a tragic life-altering event, or even just slip into the disorder over time through various reasons. Being a black male, I think we within our community stigmatize each other when one shows signs of depression as a character of weakness when we should rally behind this rising issue and stop being like our elders.

How does your mental state affect your creativity?

My creativity lately can be sparked by the smallest conversation to just hearing music that inspires me, but depending on my mental state, the creative process can be more draining or therapy. If I’m in a very low period in life, the mood can begin to affect what I say, how I say it, and what I tend to cling to as far as sounds and my lyrics. Like the one thing I’ve noticed about myself is my mental state will also affect how harsh I depict things within a certain topic or how much profanity lingers into the songs.

 

How do you cope with depression and attempt to stay sane? Are there any specific thoughts or things that lift you up when you’re feeling low?

The best way for me to ultimately shake that state of mind is to turn off the world and go inside myself and find the root of my issue, pray about what’s causing my depression, and begin my own personal routine of self care. I’ll relax my thoughts in nature, read, exercise, be amongst my family, especially the youth like my nephew and niece because I think their innocence to the lack of understanding that type of disorder allows them to see the world in a different light plus they are total cartoon characters in real human form. “The Art of Not Giving A Fuck,” has shown me the past year possibly the best how not to stress and feel as if there is no up when I’m down, and listening to jazz or Frankie Beverly and Maze and some Roy Ayers or feeling through instrumentation lifts me up in a better place the best if I can’t find some self-motivation speeches or self-help books or articles or anything. The last thing I must say though for anyone who reads this to forever remember, ”It’s a slow process, but quitting won’t speed it up.”


Angelo Mota

 

If you could, how would you characterize depression?

To me, it feels like a weight. Everyday shit is just four times harder to do throughout the day. Sometimes it’s not even a feeling of being sad or upset, it can be numbing and dull as well. It’ll be days I don’t leave the house cause I can’t muster the strength to get up.

 

How does your mental state affect you creativity?

I think that it comes before anything, since it’s interfering with my general well-being. So really I need to work on separating the art from that because this isn’t a well to draw creativity from. It’ll kill my drive to be creative in the first place, so I use life experiences and current events to draw my creativity and inspiration from.

 

How do you cope with depression and attempt stay sane? Are there any specific thoughts or things that lift you up when you’re feeling low?

I think I’ve developed an efficient but unhealthy way of coping with it. I don’t like how I’m doing it right now and I want it to change, but what I need for right now is just a level ground to stand on. The support from the people who enjoy my music and the support of those close to me in my journey is what keeps me motivated.


 

BZZY

If you could, how would you characterize depression?

I would characterize depression like a dark fog. Once that dark fog gets inside your home you can’t do much. It doesn’t feel like home anymore. You don’t really do the things you love cause there’s this fog in the way. It’s weird because the fog wasn’t always there so it came from the outside world. Or maybe something broke inside your house.

 

Depression gives power to the negative voice inside your head. It lowers your vibrations. You feel tired even when you just woke up. You don’t have the energy to do things you normally love doing. It fucking sucks.

 

How does your mental state affect you creativity?

My creativity is a reflection of my mental state. 100%.

 

How do you cope with depression and attempt stay sane? Are there any specific thoughts or things that lift you up when you’re feeling low?

I write music. That’s like the healthiest thing for me, when I’m down. It sucks cause if I’m too depressed sometimes I can’t even write. I don’t want this anymore though. It’s something I’ve always accepted like, this is me; but I don’t want to live with this anymore. I’m trying to be happy. When I’m feeling low playing with my daughter helps. Taking a walk alone. Reading def helps. Music is my #1 go to though.

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