Hip-hop's survival anthems: Incarceration narratives and identifying resilience factors in Maino's lyrics

The purpose of this paper is to examine the resilience factors exhibited by a well-established hip-hop artist, Maino. In particular, we focus on his well-known track called 'All the Above' (featuring T-Pain),but we also make references to some of his other songs like his more recent song, 'Motivation'. We also draw upon observations from his documented life experiences in order to gain insights as to what resilience factors shaped his journey and what might inspire others to learn from his narrative.


Hip Hop Psych on George the Poet's Podcast!

George the Poet talks to Becky and Akeem about Hip Hop Psych!
The interview starts at 14:50. Check it out!

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Logic Under Pressure -
HIP HOP PSYCH blog by: Chinmaya Vempati

Tuesday 21st of November, 2017

Over the entire rap industry, it may be difficult to find a charting rapper that prioritizes his personal connection to his fans as much as Maryland rapper Logic, according to publications like Forbes. His motto is “peace, love and positivity”, and he has gone door to door with this message to his fans — even literally. His best charted song to date, “1- 800-273-5255”, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid cathartically and openly talks about topics like depression and suicide to reach his listeners with their own mental health struggles. This empathy is the source of Logic’s appeal. He is an MC with the ability to introspect, and this introspection reveals a great emotional awareness in his songs that his fans relate with. Logic raps from the depths of understanding: not just of himself, but of the struggles that he and his fans have in common. In the process of his rise in the last few years, the work he has put out serves as an analogue for hip-hop’s power to reach the most psychologically authentic places. One of his most memorable tracks in this regard stretches back to 2015 — the title track of his debut album, “Under Pressure”.


Eminem’s Character, Stan: A Bio-Psycho-Social Autopsy

Friday 13th of October, 2017

Eminem is a multi-platinum selling Hip Hop artist. For over a decade he has proven his mastery of multi-syllabic rhyming and vivid storytelling. In this article, we dissect lyrics from one of Eminem’s most critically acclaimed songs, ‘Stan’, for mental health themes. We use the bio-psycho-social model to explore contributing factors leading to the decline of Stan’s mental health. For the results, we speculate that Stan might be suffering with emotionally unstable personality disorder of the borderline type as evidenced by self-harm, overdose, fear of abandonment, chronic emptiness, self-image and sexual identity issues, and impulsivity. Stan speaks of having an adverse early childhood, which we propose relates to changes in Stan’s brain that affect his ability to cope with stress. In conclusion we highlight the feasibility of using Hip Hop lyrics to open up dialogues around mental health and for bridging youth culture with the medical community.


Journal of Public Mental Health Article Submission : American drug term trends in hip-hop lyrics

Friday 21st of April, 2017

From hip-hop’s conception to current trends, its lyrics have reflected significant shifts in drug culture. This article explores the frequency of word usage of drug terminology in hip-hop lyrics spanning 3 decades of the genre. We explore how and possibly why different lyrical trends have emerged, risen and fallen out of popularity.

Read the article submission...

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Medscape article: Psychiatry Moves to a New Beat With Novel Hip-Hop Program

Monday 20th of March, 2017

Hip-hop music and psychiatry may seem like an unlikely pairing, but two UK researchers have developed an innovative program that uses the lyrics of popular rap songs to raise mental health awareness.



Monday 16th of January, 2017

HIP HOP PSYCH interviewed by British Neuroscience Association

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Monday 5th of October, 2015

#FreestyleMixtapeEssay - To thank to all of our supporters we are releasing some new thoughts and material on our website to share with you all. This #FreestyleMixtapeEssay release focuses on the issues of social adversity, as portrayed by iconic legendary hip-hop artists Tupac and Eminem. Check it out!

Download #FreestyleMixtapeEssay

All Eyes on Mental Health & Hip-Hop

by CAMH on September 25, 2015

Hip Hop Psych CAMH Banner

By Akeem Sule and Becky Inkster, Co-Founders of HIP HOP PSYCH, Cambridge, U.K.

Hip-hop and mental health have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Since the genre’s conception in the early 1970s, hip-hop artists have delivered loud-and-clear messages of personal struggles and strengths, as clearly captured in the recent film Straight Outta Compton. Hip-hop culture embraces self-expression and recognizes the daily trials and tribulations that many people face – the pressures that challenge their state of mind.

The distant worlds of hip-hop and psychiatry collided in 2012 when we launched an innovative social venture called HIP HOP PSYCH. We are both affiliated with Wolfson College and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Dr. Akeem Sule is a consultant psychiatrist with Cumbria Partnership Trust/South Essex Partnership Trust, and Dr. Becky Inkster is a neuroscientist affiliated with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Equally important though, we are passionate hip-hop fans!

Through HIP HOP PSYCH, we link hip-hop music and culture with mental health to cultivate awareness, empower others and remove stigma surrounding mental health and hip-hop. We apply the five elements of hip-hop culture, especially focusing on the fifth element: knowledge.

This has been a momentous year for HIP HOP PSYCH. We published an innovative article in The Lancet Psychiatry entitled “Kendrick Lamar, street poet of mental health” that went viral across the world – gaining more than 1.4 million Facebook shares in less than 72 hours. We also received the Senior Public Communications Prize awarded by the British Association of Psychopharmacology. To top it all off, our FIRST EVER TRIP TO NORTH AMERICA will be held in October to the beautiful city of Toronto!


We’re excited to team up with CAMH for HIP HOP PSYCH: Demystifying mental illness through hip hop beats and lyrics, on Saturday, October 17, starting at 8 pm, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Here’s a sneak peek of what it’s like to attend a HIP HOP PSYCH event: Our events offer something for everyone. Absolutely everyone. It’s for those who love hip-hop. It’s for those who hate hip-hop. It’s for those who have experienced mental health problems. It’s for those who want to learn more and help those who suffer.

The best way to describe our events is to let the people who’ve attended – from inside prison walls to prestigious lecture halls, from universities to dance clubs – speak for themselves:

“All prisoners that attended could relate to the music material. They feel that the knowledge and understanding of this event has helped to develop their own coping skills.” (HMP Bedford Prison, UK, In-Reach Team, 2015).

“We enjoyed the intellectually stimulating cross-disciplinary approach of the speakers.” (Cambridge Psychiatry Society, UK, President, 2012).

“The co-founders adapt the format of an event to suit a particular audience. They also incorporate an off-the-cuff delivery with a feeling of spontaneity that makes it all the more refreshing. I truly enjoyed working with both of them for this event.” (Oxford University African Caribbean Society, UK, Liaison Officer, 2014).

We can’t give away all our secrets about our Toronto event, but here’s a glimpse into what you’ll experience:

  • Ballroom doors open, and you’ll be greeted by a DJ on the wheels of steel – deejay t-jr (@deejaytjr) – showing her serious scratching skills, while also pumping out some sounds of the underground and club bangers alike. The lighting is dim and every effort is made to bring an authentic hip-hop vibe. BIGGIE in a ballroom!?!  All good, baby, baby.
  • Express yourself with our open-minded dress code: wear your bright Nike trainers, smart suit jacket, baggy jeans, baggy t-shirt, or Timberland boots! Akeem likes to wear a t-shirt of his ultimate icon, Tupac Shakur, and Becky tends to sport her Air Jordans and “I love haters” t-shirt.
  • We’ll be greeting you as you come in, asking various questions like “Who’s better: Nas or Tupac?” or “What do you think about chromatin looping?” or “What brought you to the event tonight?”
  • We’ll open with a playful exposition of hip-hop culture. Then, we’ll set off to explore hip-hop songs and lyrics for references to mental illnesses (addiction, borderline personality disorder, depression), environmental triggers (peer influence, urbanicity) and neurobiological factors (genetics, brain patterns).
  • You will be continuously encouraged to speak out during the show. Each event is different, even when we cover the same songs – people’s views are integrated into the mix, and debates and discussions unfold. We present knowledge in a free-flowing way, depending on what the crowd wants to learn about. We inject humour to keep things light at times.

We’re thrilled that JUNO Award winner Lillian Allen will also perform at this event. Lillian Allen is a creative writing professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University in Toronto, and one of the originators of dub poetry. She is considered a godmother of rap, hip-hop, dub and spoken word.

At the end of the night, you will walk away realizing that some of the hip-hop songs and artists you love (or hate!) actually contain deep and powerful messages about mental health. The knowledge gained is empowering and will hopefully inspire you to share what you’ve learned and relate what you’ve learned to your own situation and wellbeing.

We hope to see you there!

HIP HOP PSYCH: Demystifying mental illness through hip hop beats and lyrics is happening on Saturday, October 17, starting at 8 pm, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Admission is free.

Register on Eventbrite 

Hip Hop Psych CAMH Poster

Kendrick Lamar, street poet of mental health

Akeem Sule, Becky Inkster

Read more at www.cam.ac.uk...
Read more on the University of Cambridge FaceBook page...

We have some astonishing numbers/facts to share about our unprecedented outreach via social media - our messages are getting out there - thank you all According to the University of Cambridge Press Office:

  • On Facebook, our article coverage has broken the University of Cambridge record for the number of likes, at over 21,000, has had over 700 comments, and has reached 1.3 million people (i.e. appeared in their news feed).
  • Since our article coverage appeared on the front page of Cambridge University on Friday 1st May it has had 28,000 page views and has been shared over 18,000 times throughout the world.
  • In just a weekend, it’s become the University of Cambridge's second most read story of the year (the first most read story was posted over 3 years ago).

Published Online: 29 April 2015

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Kendrick Lamar has received critical acclaim as the hottest hip-hop artist of the past decade. A native of Compton (California, CA, USA), he has had a meteoric rise over the past 3 years. He released his major-label debut album good kid m.A.A.d. city (acronym meaning “my angry adolescence divided”; “my angels on angel dust”) in Oct, 2012, which Rolling Stone considered “worth all the hype”, describing Lamar as “a dazzling street poet” unlike any other from his generation. This album covers the trials and tribulations of an adolescence spent in an inner-city subculture of violence and drugs. His heavily anticipated sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly was released in March, 2015, and was viewed by many critics as a masterpiece covering even wider subject material, such as the sociopolitical struggles of African-Americans growing up in America, the pressures that come with success, racism, black empowerment, and spirituality. To Pimp a Butterfly showcases a diverse array of musical and artistic genres, including jazz, hip-hop, blues, and spoken-word, and an interlaced poem that develops through the album.

To that, we would add that Lamar’s rich narratives relate to important mental-health themes, including addiction, depression, and resilience. As co- founders of a social venture called Hip Hop Psych, we are interested in interpreting hip-hop lyrics through the filters of psychiatry and the neurosciences. In this essay, we offer a glimpse into our work through the dissection of Kendrick Lamar’s conscious lyricism.

Lancet Psychiatry: A hip-hop state of mind

Tuesday 11th of November, 2014

Akeem and Becky's paper, "A Hip-Hop State of Mind" is now published in Lancet Psychiatry!

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Lancet Psychiatry 2014
Published Online
November 11, 2014

HIP HOP PSYCH in Cambridge Evening News

Tuesday 11th of November, 2014

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HIP HOP PSYCH initiative aims to tackle mental health issues through hip-hop


Tuesday 11th of November, 2014

"It’s been about forty years since hip-hop first began in the ghettos of New York City and it has come a long way since then, influencing areas as diverse as politics and technology. Now we hope to add medicine to the list" - Becky Inkster


See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/hip-hop-psych-initiative-aims-to-tackle-mental-health-issues-through-hip-hop#sthash.Tx4vf0DF.dpuf

Hip-hop therapy in action

Tuesday 28th of October, 2014

HIP HOP PSYCH is collaborating with Dr Adia Winfrey, creator of H.Y.P.E.-- Healing Young People thru Empowerment, which integrates Hip-Hop culture and psychological theories to educate and inspire youth.

Learn more about H.Y.P.E., the program developer Dr. Adia Winfrey here: letsgethype.com.

H.Y.P.E. Hip-Hop Therapy video

Can HIP HOP PSYCH help people battling with mental illness?

Thursday 23rd of October, 2014


Response to the Guardian (October 11, 2014)

Wednesday 22nd of October, 2014


We really appreciate the coverage and chance to share our vision about mental health and hip-hop, however, we have been misrepresented in terms of our hip-hop credibility. While we appreciate the song Happy by Pharrell Williams, we do not use that song as an example as we feel it represents pop culture and we are keen to dissect hip-hop lyrics as we are incredibly passionate about hip-hop. For example, at our Cambridge Festival of Ideas event 20th October West Road Music Hall, Cambridge, we will be covering such artists as Tupac, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. We love all kinds of hip-hop artists, not just commercially successful ones. 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. We want to represent hip-hop and maintain respect from the community that we love so much.

We would like to highlight that even though Pharrell Williams has a successful pop career, he is also solid for his hip-hop career:


Mad in America article

© Hip Hop Psych 2014