Hip-hop and mental health have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Since the genre’s conception in the early 1970s, hip-hop artists have delivered loud-and-clear messages of personal struggles and strengths, as clearly captured in the recent film Straight Outta Compton. Hip-hop culture embraces self-expression and recognizes the daily trials and tribulations that many people face – the pressures that challenge their state of mind.
The distant worlds of hip-hop and psychiatry collided in 2012 when we launched an innovative social venture called HIP HOP PSYCH. We are both affiliated with Wolfson College and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Dr. Akeem Sule is a consultant psychiatrist with Cumbria Partnership Trust/South Essex Partnership Trust, and Dr. Becky Inkster is a neuroscientist affiliated with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Equally important though, we are passionate hip-hop fans!
Through HIP HOP PSYCH, we link hip-hop music and culture with mental health to cultivate awareness, empower others and remove stigma surrounding mental health and hip-hop. We apply the five elements of hip-hop culture, especially focusing on the fifth element: knowledge.
We’re excited to team up with CAMH for HIP HOP PSYCH: Demystifying mental illness through hip hop beats and lyrics, on Saturday, October 17, starting at 8 pm, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
Our events offer something for everyone. It’s for those who love hip-hop. It’s for those who hate hip-hop. It’s for those who have experienced mental health problems. It’s for those who want to learn more and help those who suffer.
We’re thrilled that JUNO Award winner Lillian Allen will also perform at this event. Lillian Allen is a creative writing professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University in Toronto, and one of the originators of dub poetry. She is considered a godmother of rap, hip-hop, dub and spoken word.
At the end of the night, you will walk away realizing that some of the hip-hop songs and artists you love (or hate!) actually contain deep and powerful messages about mental health. The knowledge gained is empowering and will hopefully inspire you to share what you’ve learned and relate what you’ve learned to your own situation and wellbeing.
We hope to see you there! Admission is free.