Rap and mental health are two categories that we don’t often picture together, but the game is changing. Kevin Abstract is the ‘leading man’ of American boyband Brockhampton, with his own solo music career on the side. As a gay, young, black man, Abstract discusses his own personal struggles with his race and sexuality in many of his songs. In opening up the conversation about mental health to the young people that make up most of Brockhampton’s fanbase, Abstract normalizes mental health struggles and empowers the American youth.
In the Brockhampton song entitled “Weight,” Abstract raps about how, “I’ve been feeling defeated, like I’m the worst in the boyband” and that “I'm still worried 'bout when Ashlan finna put the razor down,” about his bandmate, Ashlan Grey. He later delves into his struggles with finding his sexuality and being honest with himself in that regard. By being so honest, Abstract makes it okay for people to accept their true selves and feel comfortable speaking about what they have and are going through. Besides creating a feeling of safety and validation among his fanbase, his songs also expose Brockhampton’s listeners to topics of depression, self harm, LGBTQ+ issues, and racism.
In an interview with Marc Palatucci of Office Magazine, Kevin was asked about one of his albums, “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story.” He describes wanting to be a definition of what it means to be “American,” and wanting people to see him on the album’s cover rather than a white, suburban boy who they would probably anticipate. This is, he explains, so that “other kids that listen to my music relate to me, so they have a voice.”
In many of his songs, Kevin Abstract normalizes mental health struggles. He owns who he is and encourages his fans to do the same, though he knows it isn’t necessarily easy. Through chronicling his own personal challenges, Abstract allows others to speak out as well.