Hip Hop Psychology
Reflections on Hip Hop Culture, Mental Health,
Spirituality, Neuroscience, and Social Transformation
HIP HOP PSYCH is co-founded by Dr Akeem Sule and Dr Becky Inkster. Sule is a Consultant Psychiatrist in General Adult Psychiatry, South Essex Partnership Trust, and an Honorary Visiting Research Associate at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. Inkster is a Clinical Neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and she holds an Honorary Contract with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Inkster and Sule are both affiliated with Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.
Soul Size: Process Perspectives
See also Hip Hop Theology and Process Theology
and The Globalization of Novelty and Hip Hop Hijabi
Pando Populus is a platform for people who care about big ideas and the Earth. Our aim is to create an ecological civilization.We’ve taken our name from the largest and oldest organism on the planet — a giant quaking aspen tree, spread over more than a hundred acres, thousands of years old, connected by a single root system.Various movements and organizations focus on one aspect or another of ecological concern. We endorse and celebrate their work.
what is a soul, anyway?
"I am a philosopher, let me tell you a great secret of life—a soul is not a thing, it is not something which stands untouched by the events of your life. Your soul is the river of your life; it is the cumulative flow of your experience. But what do we experience? The world. Each other. So your soul is the cumulative flow of all of your relationships with everything and everyone around you. In a different image, we weave ourselves out of the threads of our relationships with everyone around us."
Linking hip hop and mental health is a big idea, and it is coming down to earth in the work of Hip Hop Psych. The Pando Populus community celebrates and supports the work, ever mindful that the creativity of hip hop culture articulates both the broken dreams and the resilient hopes of so many in the world today. We know that there is not a single norm for mental health that applies to all, and that considerations of mental health can all too easily lapse into authoritarian models that emphasize functioning in society rather than a healthy alienation from society. There are some aspects of the dominant society that are not worth adjusting to: its patriarchy, violence, greed, homogeneity, light-skin supremacy, and joylessness. Hip hop culture is complicit in some of these problems. We know that, too. But we also know that there as many kinds of fat soul as there are souls to be fat: about 7 billion at the time of this writing. And we know that hip hop culture at its best is an immensely creative expression of that diversity, combined with a protest against the abuse of human beings and an abuse of the earth. Each of these souls deserve a chance to grow wide and healthy. Considerations of mental health demand, at the same time, considerations of social transformation.
the emerging global perspective
Today, we are on the verge of a truly global medicine, embracing the insights of both East and West. Twenty-five years ago, when I began teaching spirituality and medicine at a major medical school, my students chuckled when they viewed films on acupuncture, Qigong, and healing touch. They couldn’t imagine a creative synthesis of East and West in the practice of medicine. Today, they ask me for referrals to acupuncturists and reiki healing touch practitioners. I believe that Whiteheadian philosophy can provide the intellectual and practical foundation for the emerging holistic and global medicine of our time.
mental health as soul expansion
For process thought is all about expanding our souls to embrace contrasts and differences in a richly interwoven world that is always in the process of becoming. It’s about seeking beauty in our relationships, not only with people who are different from us, but with animals and the planet and the very air we breathe. And in this world of religious conflict and environmental disaster, such a philosophy as Whitehead’s—one which promotes beauty and justice and relational harmony among all living beings—well, it couldn’t hurt, could it?
multiple factors influencing mental health
Whiteheadian philosophy sees the universe in terms of interdependence, creativity, energy, choice, and possibility. Divine energy (chi, prana, pneuma) flows through each entity, constantly providing possibilities and the energy to achieve them. The dualism of mind and body that shaped Western medicine until recently is an abstraction; rather, mind and body exist in continuum of energy, experience, and creativity. Moreover, no person or moment of experience can be separated from its environment. Health and illness are a matter of environment as well as choice. In fact, a person’s current health condition is the result of many factors, including immediate environment, economics, family of origin, DNA and physical condition, personal choices, and spiritual life. In the following paragraphs, I will outline the resources of Whiteheadian philosophy for a truly integrative East-West medicine.
the size of soul
By S-I-Z-E I mean the stature of [your] soul, the range and depth of [your] love, [your] capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature."
music is what feelings sound like
Many studies suggest that the kind of music we enjoy is related to the way we think and how we feel. This is not surprising because, after all, music is what feelings sound like. At least this is what process philosophers believe. We believe that the universe is an evolving web of inter-subjectivity and that everything (even allegedly lifeless realities) have energy and something like feeling. Music is an acoustic expression of human feeling, available to the ears, spirit, and body. These three -- ears and spirit and body -- go together. We hear the spirit of music and we dance to it. Different kinds of music reveal different kinds of spirituality: prophetic protest (holy maladjustment), personal longing, inner peace, raw anger, unfettered desire, fear and trembling. Each of these kinds of spirituality has its place in human life, albeit relative to different contexts. But the point here is that hip hop music is appealing, not only for its lyrical dexterity which is sometimes to amazing, but for its rhythms, melodies, contrasts, and soulfulness. It's in the sounds and not just the words.
my new faith
My new faith is a deep trust that God is present with me and understands how I feel -- especially when no one else can. I no more blame God for my sadness, than I credit God for happy days. This faith tells God how I really feel knowing that an offer of my true self is worship. I appreciate songs of sorrow more. I dance only when joyful. I am upheld by church community that can linger in pain without moving to fix it. This faith is different than what died. But it's just as holy."
Social Transformation: Pope Francis and the Hip Hop Caucus
"Home eschews the gentle folk and singer-songwriter melodies that typically accompany similar ecologically-minded albums in favor of hard hip-hop rhythms. On "Trouble in the Water," Common rhymes, "We think our opponent is overseas/But we messin' with Mother Nature's ovaries" over martial drums and ominous synths that could have been a Yeezus outtake.
the hip hop caucus
"The Hip Hop Caucus has been aligned with the environmental movement since 2005 when we were working on the ground in the Gulf Coast and in Washington DC to fight for a fair and just response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. No moment has so clearly shown the world who suffers first and worst – the poor and people of color – from the devastation of natural disasters caused by extreme weather patterns, which are increasing because of global warming. Since 2005 and 2006, the Hip Hop Caucus has evolved into a leading environmental organization participating in campaigns for clean air and water, for comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, for an end to the fossil fuel economy, and in opposition to iconic battles like the proposed KXL pipeline.
Gonna be Alright?
Kendrick Lamar Videos
Five Elements of Hip Hop Culture
Street Poets Unite: The Emerging Movement
HIP HOP PSYCH initiative aims to tackle mental health issues through hip-hop