Telling a Black parent about struggling with depression or anxiety will typically warrant a response of this nature: “It’s just a phase,” “Just pray about it,” or my personal favorite, “Just think about all the good things you have.” This is largely due to the stigma that surrounds mental health in the Black community: A stigma that either denies mental health as a real illness or categorizes it as a weakness that the victim can simply “get over.”
Popular Hip Hop artist Drake reinforced this belief in his new song Two Birds, One Stone. Drake made the song as a diss track in response to comments made by Kid Cudi, another Hip Hop artist. Soon after Cudi’s original diss, the artist took to twitter and apologized for the unnecessary comments about Drake and other artists. Cudi then revealed that he is fighting depression and suicidal thoughts and will be checking into a rehabilitation center to seek professional help.
Over the weekend, Drake decided to release a response to Cudi’s criticism towards him, but instead of criticizing Cudi’s music, Drake attacked Kid Cudi’s struggle with depression. In his lyrics Drake writes “You were the man on the moon//Now you just go through your phases//Life of the angry and famous”.
It was hurtful to listen to someone I look up to reinforce everything that is wrong with the way the Black community views mental health issues. Drake supported the destructive idea that depression is not a serious illness, but rather a weakness and a fault. Drake’s behavior is harmful because as an influential black male, his opinion on this subject matters more than most. Black males are the most marginalized in expressing their struggles with mental health issues because they must deal with the stigma of “weakness” that surrounds the subject and how this intersects with the expected gender roles for black males.
So, to Drake and any other person who does not understand mental illness: depression is NOT like that emo “phase” you went through when you were 13. Depression is not someone just choosing to be angry and sad all the time. Thinking about all the good things one has won’t cure the chemical imbalance that causes depression. Depression is not Child’s Play and it’s definitely not something you can use to prove you’re a better rapper than another person. Get it together, Aubrey.