Charlamagne Tha God
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Charlamagne Tha God's Quest To "Eradicate The Stigma Around Mental Health"
Anyone keeping pace with the world of hip-hop knows the road to credibility and fame these days passes through "The Breakfast Club," Power 105.1's self-acclaimed "World's Most Dangerous Morning Show," hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God. As a group, they've interviewed everybody who's anybody, and become known for their discussion topics, asking about anything and everything no matter who sits in the hot seat.
Of the three dynamic personalities, perhaps Charlamagne That God embodies honesty, frankness and audacity the most. Now, he is using that same voracity to take on mental health. His new book, Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me, focuses on his personal experiences facing anxiety and unpacking the damage of traumatic events of his past.
"It's based off my own experiences with anxiety, going to therapy, realizing I got PTSD and even trauma from things that happened to me when I was younger," Charlamagne told Billboard about his book. "I definitely wanted to bring in an expert's opinion because I'm not an expert in anything….I had to go get Dr. Ish Major, who is a therapist that specializes in black mental health. So everything I describe in the book, he gives a clinical correlation for at the end of each chapter. It would just sound like I'm venting [without it]."
The book's title and subtitle pay ode to songs by Mobb Deep and Geto Boys respectively. Charlamagne describes the former's "Shook One" as, "Such a great [song] for our culture" and the latter's "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" as, "The greatest hip-hop song ever written about anxiety -- one of the greatest songs period ever written about anxiety." The message of the song is as powerful as it was when it was released in 1991, but some of the challenges have changed. Charlamage also addresses the mental health hurdles of today, namely how social media can affect mental health.
"With young kids from the hood, I see a lot of PTSD. Social media brings another whole level of anxiety that we're all dealing with," he said. Charlamagne admits that he's happy he didn't have to deal with social platforms growing up. He continues:
"I just thank God that I didn't have to grow up with social media in my formative years. I don't think I would've made it, to be honest with you. I talk about the fear of missing out in the book, and that's what social media does to you. I think social media is painting an unattainable picture of perfection. Social media is literally everyone's highlight reel. You don't see any mistakes, flaws, or struggle. The problem with that virtual reality is we're trying to bring that into our real world."
Not only does he provide a candid and relevant perspective on an issue that isn't going away, but is creating a space for black men to talk about mental health. And is backing up his words with actions. The radio personality had scheduled an on-stage interview with Kanye West, who has openly spoken about dealing with bipolar disorder, but recently pulled out of it, sensing recent events might divert the conversation from being a constructive dialog about mental health.
“For what I’m trying to do, which is like elevate the conversation of mental health in the black community and you know, try to eradicate the stigma around mental health, I just didn’t think it’d be a good conversation,” he said. “It’d be a distraction.”
As more and more black rappers and members of the hip-hop community add their voices to the growing narrative of mental health in recent years, such as Logic, Vic Mensa, and Kid Cudi have, hopefully Charlamagne's efforts will finally reach a critical mass.