Hip Hop Therapy Psychiatrists Ask Media to Keep It Real

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The Guardian and other media outlets ran articles about two psychiatrists promoting “the use of hip-hop as an aid to the treatment of mental illness.” Now, Drs Akeem Sule and Becky Inkster have responded on their website, expressing concern that they “have been misrepresented in terms of our hip-hop credibility.”

“The group says that hip-hop provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and self-knowledge that could be exploited to help people tackle their own psychological problems,” stated the Guardian article. “There is an intrinsic awareness of issues connected with mental health in many forms of hip-hop art, it is argued… Among the songs and artists highlighted by Hip Hop Psych for their potential use in the understanding of mental illness, and their notions of empowerment, is Pharrell Williams and in particular the million-selling British No 1, Happy.”

The founders of Hip Hop Psych then responded on their website, expressing concern that they don’t actually use Williams’ song Happy because they see it as more an example of pop music than of hip hop, when compared to artists they do use in their work like Tupac, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. “We love all kinds of hip-hop artists, not just commercially successful ones,” they wrote. “We are trying to correct the misunderstanding made by the Guardian. We respect and are part of the hip-hop community and need to keep it authentic.”

On their recently launched website, the founders of Hip Hop Psych explain, “Hip-hop culture is a powerful vehicle for raising awareness about mental health. It is rich with references to psychiatric illnesses that have not been explored, dissected and documented until now. We are the interface that links hip-hop music and culture with mental health. Our medical credibility and authentic passion for hip-hop enables us to bridge this gap. We understand the culture and speak the language. We want to share our knowledge in order to cultivate awareness, empower others and remove stigma surrounding mental health and hip-hop…”

Hip Hop Psych Statement about Media Coverage (Retrieved October 20, 2014)

Hip Hop Psych Website

Hip-hop therapy is new route to mental wellbeing, say psychiatrists (The Guardian, October 11, 2014)

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