On Oct. 4, rapper and singer Kid Cudi took to Facebook to announce that he would be taking time off from music and would check himself into rehab for depression.
“It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie,” Cudi wrote.
It’s the word “ashamed” that stands out in Cudi’s open letter. While the artist shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed about his mental health, he and many other people in this world are and don’t seek help for their issues.
Mental health is often a topic that is taboo for many especially in the minority community. According to a report from The Nation’s Health, “racial and ethnic minorities — as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — face greater mental health risks and burden of the disorders because of disparities working against them.”
While celebrities such as Owen Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Lovato have all made their stints in rehab public, the rap world has never seen someone be so upfront with their issues the way Cudi has. Although Cudi may be the first rapper to make his stay at rehab for mental health public, he is not alone in his battle with depression or other mental disorders.
Like Cudi, rapper Joe Budden has been open about his battles with depression, even going as far as rapping about it in his songs. “Tired of being strong, please let me be weak for a minute / Kinda thought that my disease tried to kill your man first,” Budden raps in “Only Human,” one of his most emotional tracks.
But depression isn’t the only problem that affects rappers. Like Budden and Cudi have discussed, suicidal urges are also often a part of depression, something that Bushwick Bill of The Geto Boys fame knows all about. In 1991, after a night of heavy drinking and drug use, the rapper attempted to get his to girlfriend kill him. “When I came home, my girl was asleep so I woke her up and told her to kill me cause I wanted to die, I was tired of my life,” the rapper told radio station KUSF that same year. “I was a homicidal maniac with suicidal tendencies.”
Lil Wayne recently also opened up about an unknown attempted suicide attempt. On a new song with Solange called “Mad,” off of her “A Seat at the Table” album, Weezy raps, “And when I attempted suicide, I didn’t die / I remember how mad I was on that day.”
Other rappers such as DMX have had their own battles with other disorders, such as bipolar disorder. During a 2011 interview with ABC 15 news, DMX revealed that his struggle with the disorder took away his ability to separate his stage life from his real life. “I used to be really clear on who was what and what character each personality had… But at this point I’m not even sure if there is a difference.”
While rappers like Lil Wayne, DMX and Cudi have been able to discuss their mental health issues, other rappers have taken their lives without ever making a mention of their problems. In 2015, Canadian rapper, Brooklyn, took his life at the age of 30. And before that, rapper Capital Steez’s death shook the hip-hop world when he jumped from the top of the Cinematic Music Group building in New York City in 2012. He was just 19 years old.
As Joe Budden once said in a tweet: “Depression is killing more than ever, yet still it remains the largest elephant in the room.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only one quarter of African-Americans who suffer from mental illness get treatment, compared to 40 percent of white people.
Perhaps Kid Cudi’s announcement will resonate with other rappers and fans and allow them to no longer be ashamed of themselves and seek the help they need when it comes to dealing with mental health.