It’s interesting that you talk about going hard on that track because it then changes pace so much at the end – it follows on from your video addressing anxiety on Instagram late last year. Could you break down that part of the track?
The track gets fierce and then it hits you with a surprising twist at the end. You just don’t expect it. It’s two sides of me that I never thought I’d be able to merge together. I posted that video [on Instagram] about anxiety a few months ago and I was so surprised with the response, with how many of my supporters are going through it. It really hit home, because I’ve always kept that inside. I’ve told people close to me, but I’ve never really expressed it online or done what I think an artist should be doing – showing the supporters that they’re not going through this alone. At first the video was just to express how I felt, and I felt so much better after that. I was on top of the world. Some people work better expressing themselves to strangers, and that’s how my brain works. I see my supporters as family anyway, and I wanted to get their advice, their response. So yeah, I did want to touch on anxiety and depression. I have been through it many times in my life, but I’d never, ever expressed it personally. I know that it can take people by surprise, but I’m real. If I want to say something on a track I’ll say it, and if I want to release it I will release it.
It will come in and out of your life, anxiety. In unexpected situations, that’s when it arises. I just wanted to put it out there, see how the supporters would take it and help them as well. A lot of them message me now and ask me how I got through it or say, “Wow, I feel so much better now that I know you have gone through it.” It’s a really good thing, because still so few people have touched on it in the music industry, especially in the genre of music I do.
Did you worry about how talking about anxiety would fit with the established image of hip-hop artists?
Well, you know, everyone is a human being before anything else, and before music, we had feelings regardless. We cut, we cry, we smile the same, so of course we’re going to go through things like depression and anxiety. A prime example of this is how people treat Kanye West. It can be all fun and games, “Haha Kanye West is crazy”, but actually: no. Before he’s Kanye West the artist, he has a life and he goes through things. On top of that, music is really, really stressful at times: the industry will eat you up and spit you out. It depends on the people he surrounds himself with. His lifestyle. His family. And a lot of people really diss him and put him down on the internet. I just think it’s such a shame that because he’s a rapper, people don’t take his health seriously.
What advice do you give your fans about dealing with anxiety and depression?
I’d just say, never bottle it up inside. That’s what I was doing and you eventually burst. It’s like a can of Coke, innit? When you shake it, when you’re finally ready to open it it’s going to burst. That’s when you’re going to have a breakdown. You have to express yourself to the people around you. A lot of the people who were commenting on the video, I saw them speaking to each other, like, “I’m going to DM you,” so it was good to see that I’ve brought some people together who can relate to a situation and talk about it amongst themselves. Just talk to other people who are going through it – help each other.