Insane in the Brain:
Did Hip Hop Drive Us Crazy ?
TRUTH Minista Paul
“I keep lookin’ over my shoulders and peepin’ ‘round corners/ my
mind’s playin’ tricks on me”
Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me- Geto
For a time, up and coming attorney, Beauford Jenkins
,of the prestigious law firm, Black, Rock and Ron ,seemed perfectly normal. Even
when he legally changed his name to B-Dawg and got a lollipop tatted on his
face, his coworkers thought it was just the stress from his new position as a
junior partner. However, when during the weekly staff meeting, he jumped up on
the conference room table and broke into an impromptu rendition of Nicki Minaj's
“Beez in the Trap” while tryin’ to twerk, they knew it was time for him to seek
professional help from Dr. Feel . After a few sessions , Beauford’s behavior was
diagnosed as the effect of a lifetime of over exposure to Hip Hop....
of the most difficult issues to discuss ,especially in the Black community, is
mental illness. No one wants to believe that Uncle Leroy, who comes to the
family reunion picnic every year in a bathrobe and biker shorts is really crazy
. (No, that’s just his swag.) But in a period in Hip Hop when it is becoming
harder and harder to distinguish fantasy from reality, this issue must be
Historically, there have been those who have, purposely,
misdiagnosed normal Black behavior as abnormal. According to Dr. Harriett
Washington, in her book, Medical Apartheid ,during the mid-19th century, Dr.
Samuel Cartwright concocted some diseases to diagnose those who resisted slavery
. He came up with diseases like drapetomania , which made slaves want to run
away and dysaethesia aethiopica which, supposedly, made the slaves tear stuff up
on the plantation.
Also, Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary and others have used the
term, Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, to describe the mental distress that
results from centuries of slavery and oppression.
However,as for what
is happening in Hip Hop right now...well, normal people just don't do that kind
To be fair, over the years, Hip Hop has dealt with its
insanity in different ways, some funny, some not so funny.
UTFO had a
humorous rap hit in the 80’s called ,“Split Personality.” which was a spoof on
dissociative identity disorder. However, in the real rap world, that could
explain why rappers like 50 Cent can make cds that make them seem like homicidal
maniacs but when they are interviewed by Oprah or Pierce Brosnan, appear to be
astute, well-mannered businessmen.
Some of the most graphic tales of
mental disorder have come courtesy of Scarface and the Geto Boys ,as the “Mind
of a Lunatic” was a recurring theme in many of their songs. Scarface once
described himself as “a homicidal maniac with suicidal
Perhaps , the most telling mental breakdown moment that best
exemplifies Hip Hop’s current state is the classic scene from the movie ,Juice,
when “Bishop “(Tupac Shakur) admits to "Q” (Omar Epps) “You're right, I am crazy
and I don't give a ..." As insanity has become standard Hip Hop
So, the major question is , what makes some Hip Hop artists
actually lose their minds in real life?
The most convenient answer may be
alcohol and drug abuse abuse. After all, rap music does promote the use of
marijuana, sizzurp and Ex as forms of self medication to ease the pain. Although
the pharmacist at the drug store requires a prescription from a doctor, the
neighborhood “street pharmacist” has no such requirement. Remember, back in
1991, Geto Boy, Bushwick Bill lost his eye, allegedly, after drowning his
sorrows in a bottle of Everclear. Also, years before the current hysteria of
people turning into cannibals after getting high on bath salt, back in 2002 ,
rapper Big Lurch is said to have eaten a woman’s body parts because of PCP.
However, there can be other factors as well.
Perhaps the least
talked about reason for odd behavior among rappers is explored on Cee Lo Green's
(Gnarls Barkley) song “Crazy" where he seems to be feeling the pressure of one
of the most talented intellectual minds that Hip Hop has ever produced when he
was with the Goodie Mob being transformed into a cross- dressing, pop cultural
What must not be forgotten is that in some ways,the themes that
are prevalent in much of rap music are also present in ‘hoods across
Although, the theme of gun shots flyin' , people dyin' and
babies cryin' is talked about, extensively, in rap music, what is rarely
discussed is how living in that type of environment effects one, mentally. Could
it be that the millionaire rapper from the ‘hood who now lives in a mansion on
the hill still has unresolved childhood issues that are reflected in his music
When multi-national corporations get a hold of this type of behavior
and glamorize it, they make even the most irrational type of behavior a
requirement for being "down with the culture." And if they can make a quick buck
sellin' insanity, so be it.
So the youth become victims of what Coach
Alfred Powell, author of the book , Hip Hop Hypocrisy, calls “psycho media
perpetrator disorder," mirroring the behaviors exhibited by their favorite
While there are economic incentives to promote rap insanity,
there are other entities that may have a vested interest in keeping us out of
our minds as well.
Psychologist Bobby E. Wright argued in his book
“The Psychopathic Racial Personality “ that the pathologies plaguing the 'hood
and, therefore, Hip Hop are no accidents but are a result of what he termed “
Mentacide.” He said that Mentacide was a way for the power structure to combat
If Einstein was correct and insanity is “doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different results, perhaps the most
insane are not the rappers but the conscious ones of us who consider ourselves
in our right minds, as we have used the same formulas to “cure the insanity in
Hip Hop" for two decades. Maybe it's time to find a new cure. As they say,
"desperate times call for drastic measures."
As a Public Service
Announcement, if you are a 30- something year old man and find yourself unable
to stop repeating Lil Wayne's "A Millie" or a 40 year old woman who decides to
dye your hair pink and get booty injections, seek help,
Like Ice Cube once said:
“You better check yourself
before you wreck yourself.”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott's weekly
column is "This Ain't Hip Hop," a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For
information on his upcoming lecture series contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or his website NoWarningShotsFired.com. Follow him on Twitter