Chi Town’s G Herbo sat down with the Recording Academy to discuss his latest album and his plans to use his platform to help de-stigmatize mental health and expound on the commonly misunderstood mental disorder.
On the title track to his newest album, PTSD, the up-and-coming rapper enlisted Lil Uzi Vert and two of his hometown’s Hip Hop heroes, Chance The Rapper and the late Juice WRLD to help with his mission.
Being a fan of all involved on the track, we had a feeling “PTSD” would take us on an intimate journey into the minds and and vulnerabilities of these Hip Hop heavy hitters, before we even pressed play, and we were right.
As artists, these four don’t typically allow stereotypes and stigmatization deter them from using their music to get personal and speaking their truth. Which in part has truly helped mold a new generation of Hip Hop, and for all intents and purposes a sub-genre of rap.
On the track, G Herbo raps about the friends he's lost to Chicago's extreme gun violence. While, Chance uses the opportunity to bring up how he and his mother avoided talking about the social issues plaguing his community. Lil Uzi sing-raps about the delusional "war zone laying inside my head.” With Juice WLRD on the emotionally-charged chorus enveloping the song's overall theme: "I got a war zone on inside of my head / I made it on my own, they said I'd be in jail or dead / I've seen my brothers fall over and over again / Don't stand too close to me, I got PTSD.”
Originally released in February, PTSD, is inspired by G Herbo's personal experience with the mental health condition and therapy treatment he has since sought to address it after being clinically diagnosed in 2019. Stemming form a gun-related arrest in 2018, Herbo agreed to enter therapy as suggested by his lawyer.
"I didn't really think (therapy) was something that I needed or something that was for me, because where I come from, the things that we go through and the things that we experience, we sort of normalize." He continued, ”so we don't think that we're crazy. We don't think that we're suffering from mental illness because we're paranoid for our life, because everyone around us is paranoid for their life. So we don't feel like the oddball, and I think that needs to change.”
Additionally, throughout the entire album Herbo really digs in, taking on real-life issues according to him. "Gangstas Cry" examines toxic masculinity, "Lawyer Fees" accounts the gun-related violence that plagued his childhood and community, and "Feelings" details the rocky relationship between him and the mother of his child.
"I never really gave it much thought about [the album] being too heavy for people, because I felt like people may look at my situation and my life like I don't do these things, like I don't have problems, like I don't endure pain or stress. I just wanted the world to know that we all are the same," G Herbo says of PTSD, which he regards as his "most complete" project to date.
Evidently, his message hit home, resonating with fans around the world, helping push the album to the Top 10 Billboard Chart, and the title track reach gold status in the US.
Since the album's release, G Herbo continues on his mission to use PTSD and his platform to help impact the change he wishes to see in the world. Most recently, launching Swervin' Through Stress, an initiative providing therapeutic and mental health resources, including a free therapy-intensive program, to Black young adults in honor of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
"I think people need to treat mental health more seriously," G Herbo reflects. "You just have to take these things seriously so more and more people can be aware and more people that could bring change actually want to bring change. That's what PTSD is [about]."
Check out the entire interview here.
RADIO.COM’s I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there.
Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.