On Tuesday, October 5th, rapper Kid Cudi took to Facebook to inform his fans that he is checking into a rehabilitation facility for his struggles with “depression and suicidal urges.” This admission came as a surprise to many; Cudi has always given off the impression of a very happy-go-lucky guy despite his sometimes ominous lyrics. His critically-acclaimed debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, featured the songs “Soundtrack 2 My Life“ which contained the lyrics, “I’ve got some issues that nobody can see” and massive hit, “Pursuit of Happiness” which popularized the line, “Tell me what you know about the night terrors every night / 5 A-M cold sweats, waking up to the sky.”
It is extremely rare for a male musician, especially a rapper, to admit that they are struggling with depression. It is also widely recognized that many men within the black community struggle with admitting that they are fighting a mental illness. In a 2014 speech at the University of Chicago, Dr. Waldo E. Johnson Jr. stated that young black men suffer from much higher rates of depression compared to young white men, due to trauma. He went on to say that many black men do not recognize that they are dealing with depression. Kid Cudi’s admission just opened doors for so many people who are also struggling in the ways that he is and he has become a beacon of hope, strength, and confidence for young men worldwide. His Facebook post included the following passage:
“It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.” -Kid Cudi
Kid Cudi has held prominence within the music industry since his 2009 debut. The rapper/actor is a triple-threat; he has acted in several big-budget films and starred in the Mark Wahlberg-produced HBO series How To Make It in America. He is also known for his extensive work with Kanye West and his successful venture into the fashion industry. So, a man who, in just a few years, has lengthened his resume to include acting, recording, producing, composing, designing, and charity work has now started a bigger discussion about mental health.
Cudi’s openness about mental health is a massively important moment for culture in America. The United States of 2016 has become an open platform for many things: the transgender community, the first female presidential nominee, police reform, and now mental health. In recent years, women in the spotlight have consistently been vocal about struggling with depression, but many men choose to deal with their issues in private. Cudi is breaking the mold for this kind of closed-door struggling and showing young and old people alike that they can talk about it openly. While he admitted in his Facebook post that he feels “ashamed” to speak out about his struggles he is still changing the way in which men – especially men in the black community – are dealing with their depression.
Many fans took to Twitter to send strength to Cudi, even starting a new hashtag trend “YouGoodMan”, to open up about struggling with depression as a man:
As Black men we’ve been taught not to talk about mental illness or express our emotions. Glad we’re having the conversation. #YouGoodMan ?
— Dakari A. Barnes (@dk_barnes1) October 5, 2016
Sometimes the lack of education about mental health issues in our community destroys us. Other times it’s the lack of resources. #YouGoodMan
— Joshua P Smith, M.A. (@ProphetJSmith) October 5, 2016
The feeling of not being able to talk with our women, love our sons and show love to another Black man without being “weak” #YouGoodMan
— MyBlackJournal (@BRashadBeal) October 5, 2016
Kid Cudi may be dealing with what could be considered one of the most difficult obstacles that a person could have to face, but he is also starting a conversation that is long overdue.
-Jessica Natale for The Untitled Magazine