Chance The Rapper Talks Learning About Mental Health, Anxiety

By Victoria Kim 03/17/17
"I don’t ever want to convince myself that I’m hindered by any of my experiences."
Chance The Rapper
Photo via YouTube

After winning three Grammys in February, there’s no stopping Chance the Rapper. The independent artist—born Chancelor Johnathan Bennett—won the awards for Best Rap Album, Best New Artist, and Best Rap Performance, despite his refusal to sign with a record label.

In a recent interview with Complex magazine, the rapper, singer and songwriter spoke about his mental health and how he deals with past traumas.

In 2013, the Chicago native watched his close friend, Rodney Kyles Jr., die in a fight. But Chance says he’s hesitant to label Rodney’s murder as a traumatic event. “I don’t ever want to convince myself that I’m hindered by any of my experiences,” he responded to a question about whether he had PTSD. 

He continued, “There’s definitely a lot of things that have happened in my life that would cause me to think a certain way or feel a certain way. But I don’t label those experiences as traumatic events. They are events that were paradigm shifts in my life, but I don’t know if they cause a disadvantage.”

The 23-year-old’s career took off with the success of his second mixtape, Acid Rap, in 2013. In early March, he donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. This week, a group of CPS students thanked him in an open letter: “You’re more than just an artist to us, you are a way of life.”

Despite the pressures of fame, Chance says he’s in a good place—he keeps his circle tight and is encouraged by the growing conversation about mental health in the black community.

“A really big conversation and idea that I’m getting introduced to right now is black mental health,” he told Complex. “Cause for a long time that wasn’t a thing that we talked about.”

“I don’t remember, when I was growing up, that really being a thing. Now I’m starting to get a better understanding of that part of my life.”

The young artist’s peers and collaborators—Kanye West and Kid Cudi—are helping open up that conversation. Kanye West made headlines in November for landing in the hospital after canceling the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour.

TMZ reported that the influential rap icon suffered from temporary psychosis brought on by sleep deprivation and dehydration. A source close to him said he hadn’t been the same since his wife, reality star Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in October.

In October, recording artist and actor Kid Cudi announced that he checked himself into rehab for depression, suicidal ideation and anxiety. “It took me a while to get to this place of commitment,” he wrote in a Facebook post, “but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr