How rap music can help you journal
Inside the MindJournal writing programme, there is a session where I suggest you to write a rap about your life — here's why...
I’ve personally found Hip-Hop music to have a huge positive effect on my life. Not only for its entertainment value, but for how it’s inspired me to think more positively about my life.
Since the age of around 14, I’ve listened to Hip-Hop. I found gangster rap to be the thing that I enjoyed listening to the most. The more violent, the more aggressive, the more raw the music the more I got from it.
It made me feel OK to think and feel that life is shit.
So from these early days of listening to Hip-Hop, up until I was 18 I would write my own raps. I’d stick my headphones on and immersive myself into their world. I’d imagine I was in the Bronx or Queens Bridge projects in New York and learn how they were expressing themselves with words and beats.
I never knew it at the time but what I was doing was keeping a Journal. Every emotion, situation and crazy thing that was going on in my life was rapped about. I felt a huge connection with these artists I’d never met. I’d never even been to a gig. It was just CD’s in my hi-fi and some ropey old headphones. But it was perfect.
I honestly believe that their music and me trying to emulate them in my own raps really pulled me through the darkest points of my life. It was only when I was producing MindJournal did I look into rap music more deeply. To see if there was any real benefit to writing a rap about your life. Or even listening to Hip-Hop music in general.
I discovered that rappers are pretty much the dons of writing a Journal. They openly pen all their hardships, loss and sufferings down on paper and then repeat them through a microphone for you to listen to. The rags to riches story that most, if not all, rappers fantasise about in their lyrics encourages listeners that they’re not alone in their struggles. When rappers rhyme about drug abuse, violence and dead homies, it strikes a chord with listeners that are also down on their luck. And there is evidence to support this with researchers believing that hip-hop can help treat schizophrenia and depression.
Rap music is a form of artistic expression and these artists are expressing the same struggles we all at some point can relate to. The use of rap music, and the writing of, as a therapeutic tool for self discovery and growth is supported by multiple studies. And apart from freestyles, most rap artists begin with a pen and a piece of paper. All the pent up anger, depression and pain gets turned into powerful pieces of spoken word. But it begins as an entry. A page in their Journal of life, spoken through their music.
So now it’s your turn to be a rapper. Give it a go. Chuck on some music and write your life as a rap.
Not sure what music to write your rap to? Don’t worry I’ve put together 6 top tracks to help you get your rhyme flowing.
SLUM VILLAGE — THE REUNION
The standout verse on this track is by Elzhi, a member of the originally 3 man group. His lyrics are about the former member, Baatin who battled with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
THE DOGG POUND GANG — REALITY
West Coast rap doesn’t get much better than DPG. For such a gangster image that they present this track is a lot more mellow. It’s all about their daily struggle with coping with the reality of their lives and that they can’t escape it.
THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G — SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
This track is dark and emotionally raw. Regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time, Biggie is completely open with how the mounting stress he’s experiencing is making him feel.
OUTKAST — DA ART OF STORYTELLIN'
Fact or fiction, it doesn’t really matter in this track. It’s a poignant, beautiful track that just makes you think. Andre 3000’s verse about a girl called Sasha Thumper is particularly moving.
DMX — SLIPPIN’
Considering most of DMX’s tracks are loud, aggressive and full of yelling — this track came as complete surprise to me when I first heard it. He’s a rapper that has been surrounded by a sleuth of struggles throughout his life. In this track, he sheds some light on the reasons behind it all.
SHYHEIM — LIFE AS A SHORTY
When I fist heard this track it broke me. I think it might have been the first track that I felt spoke to me personally. There is a line in it where Shyheim raps about his mum overdosing and how it made him feel.
There’s so many more tracks that I could add to this article — artists like 2Pac, Nas, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots … the list goes on and on. They’ve all helped me realise that the shit I was going through, wasn’t a lonely experience. Rap music can offer a powerful supporting voice when you feel like no one could possibly understand what you’re going through.