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Hip-Hop music can help tackle mental health – Research

A lyrical battle /FILE

Lyrical UoN law student wins rap battle

While some parents think hip-hop is a sure path to a mental break down, new research shows hip-hop music may be the answer to mental health issues. Hip-Hop Psych, an initiate associated with Columbia University, used songs by Notorious BIG, Nas, Tupac and Grandmaster Flash to gauge the effect of the songs on patients struggling with depression.

Juicy, by The Notorious BIG, and The Message, by Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five, are just two of the songs used by researchers at Cambridge University to help tackle issues surrounding mental health.

Hip-Hop Psych co-founders Dr. Akeem Sule and Dr. Becky Inkster, explained in The Lancet Psychiatry:

“Much of hip-hop comes from areas of great socioeconomic deprivation, so it’s inevitable that its lyrics will reflect the issues faced by people brought up in these areas, including poverty, marginalization, crime and drugs,” explains Sule.

“In fact, we can see in the lyrics many of the key risk factors for mental illness, from which it can be difficult to escape. Hip-hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free.”

The researchers indicate that positive and aspiration lyrics, such as Biggie’s Juicy ‘dedicated to all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nuthin’, can offer hope to patients struggling with depression. Dr. Sule and Dr. Inkster hope the project will be rolled out into prisons, schools and hostels to promote positive self-esteem.

“We’ve had an enormous response from the global community, from patients, prisoners, and parents to artists and fans alike,” says Inkster. “We are overwhelmed and excited by requests from people around the world reaching out to us who want to help. It has been moving to see how honest and open people have been with us.


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