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Mental Health in Music

I was talking to my wife the other day and she mentioned an artist that has recently become a pretty big deal in the rap world, NF. Even if you are unfamiliar with this artist, you likely have heard his huge single, Let You Down, that was released in 2017. It was constantly playing on the radio. I was excited that she was asking about NF as I have followed him for a few years and have really connected with several of his songs in particular. She inevitably asked, "So why do you like him so much?". Hmm... I was taken back a little, because I honestly haven't thought about why. The beats are there, his lyrics just fly at speeds that seem inhuman at times and many songs tend to build in an epic climactic fashion (which are excellent for working out). But when I really got to thinking about it, my main praise is that I can't get over how deep his lyrics go.

I feel like most of the songs that get air time on the radio are crafted to focus on the hook and overall catchiness. However, there's something timeless about lyrics that are written from such a deep place of vulnerability. To simplify a lot of my thoughts, it's refreshing to hear songs that display emotions or experiences that are typically very difficult to express. If I can listen to or sing with a song that conveys deep emotion, my internal itch to release pent up emotions gets scratched. A lot of us don't even recognize when we have that 'itch' but can recognize the good feeling of release. NF does a phenomenal job of expressing pain, fears, insecurities, past abuse and other emotions that are vulnerable grounds that most people avoid like the plague (or in 2020, The Coronavirus). The reality is, however, that all of us have experienced past hurts, and often these pains still negatively affect us in our present lives.

I think specifically as a man, and obviously I'm not speaking for everyone here but from my perspective, it's harder to connect with emotions. Even naming emotions behind moments of frustration or anger can be difficult to do. So my concluding thoughts with Meagan were, I love listening to NF because of his ability to unlock emotions within me through meaningful song lyrics. Meaningful music is awesome!

Written By: Clay Coppage, LICSW

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