Depression Vs. Music

Depression is more common than you might think, it affects over 16.1 million Americans and continues to become a daily factor in life. In life depression can be hard to handle, coming from someone who has it himself. It can eat at you and tear you down, depression is relentless. Sometimes medicine, therapy, and other treatments simply don’t work and at that point, it usually seems hopeless. There is, however, a silver lining in life: music. Music is an art form that can be interpreted in an infinite amount of ways. These interpretations can create an endless string of insightful and intuitive thoughts. Now more than ever, depression and other mental health issues are becoming a known problem in the world, especially in America. With a bigger focus on these disorders, artists have taken it upon themselves to put these feelings into words and more importantly into music. With a growing rate of depression in the world comes a growing rate of musicians who attempt to combat depression by presenting their interpretation of their thoughts and feelings.

More recently, however, artists have come to abuse this message for personal gain. The main artist on my list is Drake. Drake is known for being a “soft” and “vulnerable” guy who just wants to succeed, yet is he really worthy of being an icon for mental health? It is a known fact that humans have and show a variety of emotions on a daily basis, however, is Drake frequently depressed and upset about things? While we may never truly know this answer, it’s easy to agree that Drake is not that icon. Drake has even gone against those who suffer from depression themselves in the past especially Kid Cudi in 2017.

In 2017, Drake released “Two Birds, One Stone” which was a diss to Meek Mill, Pusha T, and most notably Kid Cudi. At this time, Kid Cudi was going through personal issues and had been in rehabilitation. Kid Cudi was very vulnerable during this time, yet Drake still decided to take the shot at him regardless. I firmly believe everyone in rap music can be criticized and dissed, especially when it’s beneficial for both parties involved, except this, wasn’t beneficial for Kid Cudi in any way, shape, or form. Calling someone out while they are actively seeking help is the exact opposite of beneficial. This shot by Drake only further shows why he shouldn’t be an icon. By dissing someone who is in a depressive and dark stage of their life you’ve not only brought negative attention and remarks to the already hurt person, but you’re also making their treatment harder to get through. Nobody in this world wants to be called out for doing the right thing, especially when they are taking care of their own psyche. By supporting Drake and his actions, we as a society are taking two steps back.

With suicide becoming a rising statistic in the world, it is up to us to stop it. It is up to the people of the world to do their best to support someone who is going through tough times. Lending a hand to a fallen friend is what ultimately brings people together. Unification in 2018 is essential. Far too often we hear about more and more suicide cases each year such as Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain most recently. This constant growth is what we as a society need to talk and be concerned about. Per year, roughly one million people will commit suicide. We need a positive icon to combat this statistic. While each person has their own opinion on who should be the face of mental health one thing is for sure: Drake is simply not that icon.

Favorite Song Friday #3

6/1/18

“The Story of Adidon” – Pusha T

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At first, there was Kendrick Lamar, Tory Lanez, Ludacris, and Meek Mill. These brave rappers decided to take a stance upon the media-giant Drake, however, most of these feuds have either been resolved or ended in defeat (Meek Mill especially). It wasn’t until 2018 when an unlikely hero would emerge to finally stand up to this industry icon. This is “The Story of Adidon” by Pusha T.

After roughly seven years of throwing insults and sneaking disses into songs, Pusha T finally snapped this year. “The Story of Adidon” is a welcomed return to the diss-era of rap where rap used to flourish. This method of rapping is very nice to see because it emphasizes the pen over the sword especially today where violence and hate run rampant in the world. Pusha T absolutely demolishes Drake’s credibility and reputation as a prominent figure of hip-hop. With images of black-face and accusations of having a child with a pornstar, Pusha T won this feud without a doubt. In seven years Pusha T finally broke through barriers and fought the opposition in order to dethrone a king. “The Story of Adidon” is going to be a landmark in the rap game until Pusha T needs to inevitably top his own work. I must commend Pusha T for doing us all a favor and proficiently calling out the 6 God himself. Pusha T definitely has earned the title of “King Push” with the release of this song.

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Legends Pt.2

(I personally do not listen to Drake anymore due to his attack on Kid Cudi and repeated stealing of flows, however, my friend Ziggy Starscream has examined Drake and how he has impacted hip-hop.)

Drake is really important and made a huge impact for a decade but he just isn’t there for me. I have heard him really rap and he surely does on “Back 2 Back” which made me take another look at Drake and his talent. He’s brought an emotional side to hip-hop to soften it up and broaden the genre overall. Drake has been popular since I was in high school. Hell, before that if you consider his time playing Wheelchair Jimmy. He earned himself a lot of respect (and trophies) from not only me but fellow artists, critics, and fans alike.

But I really have a hard time saying he is top five rappers or artists in the genre all time. I just can’t put myself to have him there. For starters, that top tier of artists/rappers is very, very difficult to break into let alone even come to a consensus on. Tupac and Biggie are always auto-includes as both made great music and revolutionized the genre in an insurmountable number of ways. Would hip-hop even survive the decade if it wasn’t for those two? Bringing both of them in also represents the New York where the sound was born and raised as well as the West Coast that transformed and baptized the world with fire through its blistering sound.

Regional bias is a factor when forming a list of the top five. The Atlanta sound is the sound that is dominating popular hip-hop right now. Migos & Gucci Mane are huge right now and it’s been a sound that has had a death grip on popular hip-hop currently. “Atlanta” is one of the most popular shows on television about Southern Hip-Hop. So wouldn’t you need to have an ATL artist there too? But almost every time I look at people’s top five lists, rarely do they have a southern sound rapper on their list. Why?

This is where I believe forming this list past Biggie and Pac gets extremely messy. I think the first thing to say is what criteria are we judging a hip-hop artist/rapper to quantify “greatness”?

For me personally, there are several I can think of right now in no particular order:
1) Advancement of the Genre
2) Originality & Authenticity
3) Technical Skill, Ability to actually “Flow”
4) Wordplay, Metaphors. (do they have “those lines”?)
5) Staying Power
6) Respect from Fellow Artists
7) Respect from Fans
8) Respect from Critics of the Genre

Drake has 1 from the opening of the emotional side of hip-hop as well as 5-8. But I am not sure on 2, 3 and 4 because there are just so many other legends of the genre that have achieved all 8 of these criteria in my mind. Drake is good. He has his moments where he is really great. If I am thinking about his flow, how would he be able to hold up to an Eminem, Andre 3000, or Common? Does he really make you think the way a Kendrick or Nas would? Has he really changed the sound the way Dr. Dre, Wu-Tang, or Kanye has? Does he make you gasp with brilliant wordplay the way MF Doom or Rakim would? Does he have that ultimate swagger that Jay-Z exudes in his music? It is difficult to even be mentioned in the conversation as you can see.

I don’t believe that he is quite there. Awards, sales, and critical success are great but I just don’t see it as an accurate measurement to place Drake in that conversation. He has had ghostwriters in the past which should eliminate him from the best lyricist conversation in the first place. While I liked “Views” there were several lyrics that I swear could have been written by someone using a crayon (Turn that 6 into a 9? Really?). I don’t feel impressive when I can rap all the words to a Drake verse. It’s not that hard. His songs aren’t really about much. He has the party lifestyle and does all this fantastic stuff that hip-hop is criticized for glamorizing and produces music that lacks the depth to really counteract any of that image. He was good in an era that didn’t have many others to compete with other than Kanye and Lil Wayne.

As a result, Drake has been busy and rather prolific. He has been omnipresent in pop culture for a decade now but at a time when there was not much to compete against. His music lacks the depth of many others. Lyrically he would be hard-pressed to compete against more than a handful of artists. Drake has been good in a bad time of the genre. Just because he has been here for a long time doesn’t mean he is great.

-@Ziggy Starscream On Twitter and Instagram