Kanye West, The Life of Pablo, Decoding Black Depression, Black Depression, African Americans, Depression,
The Life of Pablo: Decoding Black Depression

“I’m trying to keep my faith. Somewhere I can feel safe.” -Ultra Light Beam. Common words uttered, yet often ignored as deeper meanings. For years, Blacks have misconstrued resilience with depression. We ignore the signs and replace difficult moments with phrases such as “man up” or “get it together girl.” But what if it never was together, and what if you’ve been feeling down lately and there’s no strength for you to get up? On February 12, 2016, hip hop artist/activist Rhymefest shared his thoughts on Kanye West with fans. “My brother needs help, in the form of counseling. Spiritual & mental. He should step away from the public and yesman and heal.” A week later, I would revisit these thoughts and hear The Life of Pablo in a way that I had never heard it before. The Life of Pablo: Decoding Black Depression is an attempt to highlight the signs of depression in The Life of Pablo, and how often we ignore these signs in our daily lives. Mental Health America does a great job of articulating depression as it relates to African Americans. Citing the top 10 signs of depression.  “Like I ain’t got enough pressure to deal with.” -Real Friends. One of the most popular being, Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism.

“They wish I would go head and fuck my life up. Can’t let them get to me. And even though I always fuck my life up. Only I can mention me.” – FML

While we all experience ups and downs in life, “Nah Fam, I’m good” can no longer be an acceptable response. Here are some of the facts that we’re ignoring as reported by Mental Health America.

  • 63 percent of African Americans believe that depression is a personal weakness, this is significantly higher than the overall survey average of 54 percent.
  • Only 31 percent of African Americans believed that depression was a “health problem.”African Americans were more likely to believe that depression was “normal” than the overall survey average.
  •  56 percent believed that depression was a normal part of aging
  • 45 percent believed it was normal for a mother to feel depressed for at least two weeks after giving birth
  •  40 percent believed it was normal for a husband or wife to feel depressed for more than a year after the death of a spouse.

The two highest barriers cited by African Americans to the treatment of depression are DENIAL, followed closely by EMBARRASSMENT/SHAME.

“Million dollar renovations to a happy home.” -30 Hours. Getting paper, chasing paper, or whatever method you cite as becoming financially stable is not the end all be all to happiness. But it is important to note that people who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated or have substance abuse problems are at higher risk for poor mental health. “Sorry I ain’t call you back, same problem my father had.” -PT. 2 Kanye shows signs all throughout The Life Of Pablo. From not having a strong relationship with his father, societal pressure, and missing his mother, the person that was there for him consistently. But if Kanye, a person we see in the spotlight everyday exudes these signs, ask yourself what you, someone who isn’t under the daily guise of the public eye are exuding. “I had a cousin that stole my laptop that I was f*ckin bitches on. Had to pay that n*gga 250K just to get it from him.” -Real Friends. Maybe it’s not 250K, but it might be lack of genuine friends/relationships, figuring out life as a first generation college student, societal pressure, racial battle fatigue, or the feeling of holding your families weight on your shoulders. These are just a few of the many challenges some of us face on a daily basis. Kanye may be going through it, but he’s not alone. If you think you might be experiencing clinical depression, don’t ignore the signs.

“You ain’t never seen nothing crazier than, this n*gga when he off that Lexapro.” -FML

The most common ways to treat clinical depression are with antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The choice of treatment depends on how severe the depressive symptoms are and the history of the illness according to Mental Health America. Common forms of treatment include medication and counseling. In FML, Kanye admits to his use of Lexapro, a form of medication most often used to treat depression and general anxiety. But in the same sentence he also touches on how important it has become to his stability. And if medication is something you don’t believe strongly in, it’s okay if you need somebody to talk to. Don’t continue your life ignoring past trauma, current challenges and obstacles, and feelings of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness. You’re never, ever, alone. Never. The Life Of Pablo: Decoding Black Depression.

If you think you might be experiencing depression, start here.