Detroit rapper Danny Brown has become one of the darlings of Hip-Hop after toiling in the mixtape circuit for years. Now a legitimate force in the genre coupled with rapidly rising fame, Brown took to Twitter this week and expressed in a series of tweets his bouts with depression along with how he copes with drugs.
Brown’s passionate outburst has called for some to examine the price of fame, and how depression may fuel his art but also could spell downfall for he and other Black men.
Colorlines pulled a piece from Ebony’s Alex Hardy, who examined the deeper messages of Brown’s tweets. Much of Brown’s words appeared to come from a place of pain and confusion, and Hardy noted how Brown has publicly admitted his addiction to “lean,” a drink that uses a cough medicine consisting of codeine and promethazine.
“I can’t sleep my anxiety is at an all time high (sic) but don’t none of y’all care about that sh*t,” Brown tweeted. He later added, “Depression is serous y’all think I do drugs cause it’s fun” right before calling out his fellow rap associations for not supporting him when he’s been down. Brown also said because of not using lean any longer, he has trouble sleeping and the like.
Brown has always been candid about his drug use, and much of his later music revolved around his hard-partying lifestyle. To be fair, however, Brown’s rapping ability and songwriting range displayed an awareness about his seemingly nihilistic lifestyle. As much as the songs about sex and drugs made up a good portion of his soundtrack, so did tales of living in Detroit and struggling with abject poverty as well.
Colorlines also highlighted a 2013 piece from BET focused on Black men and mental health, which cited that suicide is the third cause of death among African-American males between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidents per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There has long been a stigma in the Black community that depression in men is a suppressed matter that typically goes untreated, which possibly leads to drug use and other detrimental health issues.
Boys are often socialized to hide their feelings or express them quietly, which disrupts the normal process of healthy mental development. Essentially, there are instances where Black boys who are scolded for attempting to sort out their emotions become men who never learn proper coping tools when it comes to depression.
In Danny Brown’s case, it appears the rapper is reaching out for help and wants to fix his life. Like many tortured and talented artists, it may be he realizes that drugs are simply a crutch and hopes to face his demons head on without dulling his senses. Hopefully Brown will find exactly what he is looking for in the end.