We knew it: Hip-hop is really good for your brain

Apparently, listening to Kendrick Lamar can positively transform your mental state (yay!).

Before we delve into the facts, I think we can all agree that music has the power to have a profound psychological effect on us — and now two neuroscience professors have zeroed in on the awesome effects of hip-hop on our minds.

In a paper written by Cambridge University professors Akeem Sule and Becky Inkster, they argue that hip-hop music can “positively transform [peoples’] lives and achieve a formidable sense of empowerment, street knowledge, resilience, and self healing.” This all hinges on the idea of music as therapy, which we totally subscribe to.

Hip-hop music often openly discusses mental health issues (think Kanye West in “Clique” rapping, “Went through, deep depression when my momma passed”). Sule also points to the other side of the coin which is the fact that “there’s often a message of hope in the lyrics,” and listening to them has an uplifting effect. That combo of hope and honesty is pretty powerful.

Through their program, Hip Hop Psych, Sule and Inkster hope to explore the relationship between mental health and hip-hop. They’ve tested their hypothesis in various locations like prisons, schools, night clubs, and lecture halls. The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. In fact, Sule and Inkster cite these four specific songs, due to their references to positive imagery and/or empowering lyrics, as being emblematic of the potency and power of hip-hop.

So, what do you think? Does hip-hop have the power to transform your mental state for the better? Let’s put their theory to the test and hone in on the lyrics that they claim have the power to transform us.

1. “Juicy” – The Notorious B.I.G.

Choice lyrics:
We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay
Uh, damn right I like the life I live
‘Cause I went from negative to positive

2. “i” – Kendrick Lamar

Choice lyrics:
And I love myself
The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs
I love myself
But it can do what it want whenever it want, I don’t mind
I love myself
He said I gotta get up, life is more than suicide
I love myself
One day at a time, sun gon’ shine

3. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash

Choice lyrics:
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m going insane

4. “Keep Ya Head Up” – 2pac


Choice lyrics:
I know they like to beat ya down a lot
When you come around the block brothas clown a lot
But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up
And when he tells you you ain’t nothin’ don’t believe him
And if he can’t learn to love you you should leave him

[Image via]

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