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Hip Hop May Help Cure Depression, Cambridge Study Says

When Grandmaster Flash wrote "The Message" and The Notorious B.I.G. turned out "Juicy," it was not just a way to share a glimpse of everyday life in New York's toughest neighborhoods, but also escape it.

"It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin" under" Grandmaster Flash raps, urging himself on amidst the urban turmoil of 1980s' South Bronx.
Across town in Brooklyn, Biggie would later boast: "Now I'm in the limelight "cause I rhyme tight."
Expression through music has always been an effective method of self-therapy.
But according to a new Cambridge University study, the act of listening to hip hop in particular could be a bonafide psychological help for people suffering from depression or mental illnesses. In an article just published in the medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry psychiatry researchers Akeem Sule and Becky Inster studied how "hip hop can be implemented as a unique tool for refinement of psychotherapies and psychoeducation ... and to help with public health education and anti-stigma campaigns."
Grandmaster Flash's "The Message", The Notorious B.I.G."s "Juicy" but also J Flexx's "Lady Heroin" are three tracks the researchers particularly recommend.

As major depressive disorders spread throughout the world and mental health support is decreasing, they found that "bridging such techniques with hip hop music can cultivate a new culture of understanding, based on a context-enhanced partnership of mutual respect and trust." But most importantly, it is about making these techniques "culturally accessible to those who most need them."
The two researchers put forward the rich and visual narrative-style that is commonly used in hip hop, which emerged in the South Bronx in the early 1970s. And because the genre generally stems from areas ravaged by socio-economic deprevation, patients suffering from depression may feel concerned by the lyrics, which are often linked to crime, drugs and poverty.
“Hip hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free. There’s often a message of hope in amongst the lyrics, describing the place where they want to be the cars they want to own, the models they want to date," the researchers explain.

To continue breaking barriers between the hip hop and medical communities, Akeem Sule and Becky Inster co-founded Hip Hop Psych, a venture aiming to further raise awareness on mental health issues through music, with outreach work in prisons, schools, and youth hostels.
In addition to the three tracks recommended by the Cambridge study, we at Worldcrunch suggest this global hip hop playlist — with artists from the U.S. to Russia, China, Italy, France and beyond — to help brighten your day:

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

After Abbas: Here Are The Three Frontrunners To Be The Next Palestinian Leader

Israel and the West have often asked: Where is the Palestinian Mandela? The divided regimes between Gaza and the West Bank continues to make it difficult to imagine the future Palestinian leader. Still, these three names are worth considering.

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas speaking into microphone

Abbas is 88, and has been the leading Palestinian political figure since 2005

Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Updated Dec. 5, 2023 at 12:05 a.m.

Israel has set two goals for its Gaza war: destroying Hamas and releasing hostages.

But it has no answer to, nor is even asking the question: What comes next?

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the return of the current Palestinian Authority to govern post-war Gaza. That stance seems opposed to the U.S. Administration’s call to revitalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume power in the coastal enclave.

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But neither Israel nor the U.S. put a detailed plan for a governing body in post-war Gaza, let alone offering a vision for a bonafide Palestinian state that would also encompass the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers much of the occupied West Bank, was created in1994 as part of the Oslo Accords peace agreement. It’s now led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2005. Over the past few years, the question of who would succeed Abbas, now 88 years old, has largely dominated internal Palestinian politics.

But that question has gained new urgency — and was fundamentally altered — with the war in Gaza.

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