Dancing Around Mental Health: Why Everyone Remembered KiKi, but Forgot about Drake
Like millions of other music lovers, I stayed up after midnight to listen to the release of Drake’s album Scorpion back in June 2018. Hip-Hop has really gone down the drain as far as I am concerned, and Drake, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Common, and (sometimes) T.I are the only time I even think about listening to a new Hip-Hop release.
More so for the social media fun of it, I stayed up ‘late’ to give the new title a try. What I expected was typical Drake- a few Hip-Hop love songs and a catchy crossover dance track or two. What I walked away from the album with instead was an emerging concern for the star’s mental health
Scorpion is a dark reflective and sometimes frightening album. The soft tender Drake, who wanted us to Take Care, is long gone. Left standing is a broken, paranoid, and aching individual.
Intoned throughout the album is regret about his fame and new fatherhood, betrayal by friends, the weight of rumors, the negative impact of social media on his life, refusal to commit romantically, talk of death, drug use, alcoholism, the idea of murder, and most surprisingly a confession that a sniper is stocking him.
The entire album is laced with shocking confession after confession.
“I’m upset. Fifty thousand on my head is disrespect….. they be trying to get me for my soul.” – I’m Upset
“Backstabbed so many times, I started walking backward.” – Sandra’s Rose
“I’m a unforgiving wild ass dog nigga…. I’m a grave digger. –Non-Stop
“I’m exhausted and drained, I can’t even pretend…. All these followers, but who gone follow me to the end.” –Emotionless
“It’s breaking my spirit, single father I hate when I hear it. I use to challenge my parents on every album, now I’m embarrassed to tell them I ended up a co-parent. –March 14
“No one to guide me. I’m all alone, no one to cry on. I need shelter from the rain to ease the pain…. –March 14
The next morning I turned to social media, sure that everyone was as dumbfounded as I was about Drake’s alarming turn. I was floored to find that the buzz was only about Drake’s secret son and the sexy bedroom banger After-Dark.
What was more appalling was the rise of KiKi.
The KiKi/In My Feelings Challenge
Maybe a week or two after the release of Scorpion, someone created a dance to accompany Drake’s song In My Feelings . The In My Feelings/Kiki Challenge became an overnight internet sensation. People everywhere started hopping out of moving cars, sometimes into busy streets, to take on the KiKi Challenge. Several people actually died attempting the dance moves in traffic, while Drake’s problems were totally forgotten.
I sat watching the entire spectacle in shook and a outrage. I though the days following Scorpion’s release would foster healing and open conversations about cyberbullying, depression, and mental health. Instead people were too busy making memes featuring Drake’s quotable lyric about hiding his son from the world, and doing the Ki-Ki to their hearts content.
There was something very symbolic about fans choosing Ki-Ki over Drake. We live in a society that likes to dance around mental health issues rather than tackling them head on.
A Cry For Help
Scorpion was obviously a loud cry for help for the rapper. There have been many instances in recent history were artist cry for help through the art and the lack of being heard ends in disaster.
For example, on Michael Jackson’s Blood on the Dancefloor album he penned a song called Morphine. During the song, the music eerily breaks as a heartrate monitor beats in the background. Over the track Jackson is moaning, “Demerol, Demerol, Oh God, he’s doing Demerol.” Ten years later the famed singer tragically died from an anaesthetic drug overdose.
If that isn’t shocking enough, consider Amy Winehouse’s breakout hit Rehab, and think about how she died.
Drake openly admitted to depression, having a sniper, and being stalked, but his fans chose to worry about Ki-Ki instead.
African American’s and Mental Health
In the African-American community especially, may people glaze over mental health issues. Usually jokes are told to override the problem at hand. Ki-Ki provided enough comic relief to do just that.
A study by Ward, Wiltshire, Dety, and Brown (2013) reported that black people, especially men, were afraid to seek treatment for mental health issues, because they feared social stigma. M.T Williams reported that many blacks felt they would be considered ‘crazy’ for seeking mental health treatment and felt it was an inappropriate subject to discuss with family. In 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only 54.3% or blacks were receiving treatment for depressive disorders compared to 73% of whites.
Taking the Stigma Out of Mental Health
It has been reported that lack of healthcare and finances are also reasons why many American Americans do not seek mental health treatment options. This is understandable, but stigma and using laughter as a coping mechanism is not. We must collectively decide to take the shame out of discussing mental health. Mental disorders like depression and anxiety, which Drake seemed to be exhibiting during the recording of Scorpion, are diseases that need to be combated. Not just with the help of therapy, but peer support as well.
Peer Support for Healing
Peer support is help from people suffering with the same mental ailment as a patient. A study by W.H Sledge and colleagues has proven that peer support aids mental health patients in no longer needing to seek formal therapy for treatment.
Scorpion’s release was the perfect time to start a conversation about mental health issues among African Americans. Maybe if young men and women saw Drake receive proper support and understanding with his issues, they would have found they courage to stand up and express their own need for guidance and treatment. Instead Drake’s cries where met with memes and more cyberbullying. An offense not only to Drake, but the millions of people who needed this moment to come out with their own mental issues.
Looking forward, we must understand that we all belong to each other and one person’s problem impacts the group at large. We must find the valor to tackle mental health issues head on. Mental illness, after all, is not a weakness, it’s a disorder that needs proper care and treatment.
As a general rule, we must stop dancing around matters of our health and support each other. For a lot of people it would be very upsetting if this line from Scorpion came true just because we decided not to take mental health seriously:
Don’t link me. Don’t hit me when you hear this and tell me your favorite song.
Don’t tell me how you knew it would be like this all along.
I know the truth is you won’t love me until I’m gone..