Rap Gets Real

Savvy speaks with the Rap Gets Real show which aired on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 8th of March. They discuss raps potential to address black men’s attitudes towards mental health.

“Rap is changing. High profile UK artists such as Stormzy and Dave are shunning the genre’s dominant tropes of hypermasculinity and aggression. Instead they’re putting their battles with mental illness at the forefront of their music. From North America, Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar are proving it’s ok – and commercially viable – to be vulnerable.

References to mental health in rap lyrics have more than doubled in the last two decades. With black men the demographic most likely to suffer from mental illness – and also the least likely to seek help – the MOBO Award-winning rapper, author and broadcaster Guvna B assesses the extent to which rap now actively tackles this epidemic.

For Guvna B, this is deeply personal. When his Dad passed away a few years ago, he sank into a depression and subsequently suffered a mental breakdown. Looking back now on his childhood and upbringing, with the help of his lifelong best friend Joe, he reflects on possible causes of his breakdown and on the progress he’s made through writing so openly and honestly.

Mike Silvera from the charity Mind explains why black men are affected disproportionately by mental health issues. The veteran hip hop MC / producer Nigel Cudjoe (Asaviour aka Savvy) recalls how other artists have enabled him to share his innermost feelings.

Leading UK rapper Che Lingo reveals how his very personal lyrics have “literally saved people’s lives”. And BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Remi Burgz considers whether this new era of emotional rap is a passing fad – or here to stay.”

Listen back to the show via the BBC Sounds player here: