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What can we learn after Travis Scott’s latest interview

An anthology of psychic disorders in the rap industry

What can we learn after Travis Scott’s latest interview An anthology of psychic disorders in the rap industry

Recently Travis Scott opened up about depression and mental illness, during an interview with Show Studio.

The artist explained how the fame and lifestyle, that many people tend to iconize, may turn against you and put you in a constant state of pressure and frustration. Not being able to do your everyday things without people trying to assault you, while having to face your ambitions and the pressure being a world famous artist means. Sometimes when all the world is watching you, it's easy to feel like everyone is waiting to see you fail. These could be really oppressive thoughts and opening up about all this could really help people to understand that being famous doesn't turn you into a superhero, but on the contrary can consume you and worsen your insecurities and fragilities.


The problem we all have with iconising and idolizing rap stars is that making someone and icon means to stop thinking about that person, as an actual person. This is a common and a serious distortion of reality we all have to deal with because when you stop considering someone as a person, as a human being only bad things can happen in a way or another. If the one in front of you is not a person, you will not treat them like one.
It's easy to arrive at that pint where there are no boundaries: harassmentpersecution, stalking and everything Travis Scott mentioned as the thing he actually has to face in his everyday life, derive from this kind of distortion - and the recent case created around Kanye West's hospitalization is a clear proof of this collective hysteria. 

Also, this is why hearing celebrities speaking about their personal issue always sound so estranging. Because they are bi-dimensional to us. Hip Hop artists have a long story of speaking about intimacy and personal issues in their songs.

Mental illness has been actually faced multiple times in hip-hop records that actually made history, but we are still surprised and confused when an artist has a breakdown in real life or shows symptoms of mental illness. 
Rap is not always about fast cars, money and expensive clothes and so many artists have faced the theme of depression and mental health. The first ones were Geto Boys with their song Mind Playing Tricks On Me that openly speak of depression and schizophrenia.
Lyrics were quite explicit about that.

“At night I can't sleep, I toss and turn
Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned
Four walls just staring at a nigga
I'm paranoid, sleeping with my finger on the trigger”

“I take my boys everywhere I go because I'm paranoid
I keep looking over my shoulder and peeping around corners
My mind is playing tricks on me”

“Day by day it's more impossible to cope
I feel like I'm the one that's doing dope

Can't keep a steady hand because I'm nervous”


Then in 1994 Notorious B.I.G came out with the song Suicidal Thoughts in his legendary Ready to Die album. This track was completely revolutionary, as it was the first time in hip hop history a song about suicidal thoughts and mental disorders was released.


"The stress is buildin' up, I can't— I can't believe

(Yo, I'm on my way over there, man)

Suicide's on my fuckin' mind, I wanna leave

I swear to God I feel like death is fuckin' callin' me

But nah, you wouldn't understand "


The same year rap collective Fu-Schnickens published their album Nervous Breakdown where the theme of mental disorders like anxiety and depression were faced. Also, artist like DMX, who actually needed rehabilitation due to depression and suicidal urges, wrote some verses about his condition in his song Sleepin' in 1998:

"Ay yo I'm sleeping, I'm falling, I can‘t get up"

Also Kayne West had to face depression and suicidal thoughts after his mother passed away. Apart from his most recent breakdown more likely caused by stress, he had some serious problem when Donda West parted. He also chose to rap about it in his song Clique:


"Went through deep depression when my mama passed, Suicide, what kinda 
talk is that".


These are not the only artist who tested mental illness themes in their songs: from Lil' Wayne to Kid Cudi, from Kendrick Lamar to STORMZY the list is endless.


So why after 25 years of lyrics we are still surprised when something happens for real?


In the last decade, hip hop subverted the music market and shaped the public imagination like no other music genre. This is maybe because of the people need for a form of contemporary poetry to describe the world inside and around them. Poetry has always been about the capacity to turn personal struggle and torments into something that could reflect a collective way of feeling. Poetry has also a strong cathartic power, able to make people feel less alone and guilty for their imperfections. That's why we should care more about art and less about artists.
We all should stop this idolatry-madness and just listen to what they want to express. This could help art to make the world a better place and would help us to understand that there are no icons, not idols to stare at. Just people trying to leave a message we all should interiorize and keep mind.

So we should just listen to Travis Scott words, leave him alone and love his art instead.