Over the weekend I was finally able to watch the documentary, What Happened Miss Simone? The legendary blues, jazz, and R&B soul singer became a household name at a young age but catapulted her career when she became involved in Civil Rights. At a lonely time in her life making music to push the revolution is what kept her thriving internally because singing empty love songs when you’re not in love brings about desolation. Miss Simone shared that making music for the movement is what stirred her heart and her soul towards her purpose in life. Not being able to reach her ultimate goal of playing classical music at Carnegie Hall is probably one thing that eroded her own definition of her own success and with a husband who was not open minded enough to be a part of the movement she became an example of a tortured artist or a tortured soul.
They say the crème de la crème are always “crazy”, “tortured”, or suffering in some way. Look at Kanye West, a lot of people describe him as a “musical genius” yet “crazy” at the same time. This is not exclusive to Rap/Hip Hop musicians but anyone who is seen as “successful” in their field; Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Vincent Van Gogh, Chris Farley, and even Jimmy Fallon. These individuals were scrutinized in the same media who are fans of their iconic artistry. A lot of these individuals will have that shame attached to their name forever even after their death only to be seen as a tortured soul. Rap music has not seen anyone reach those levels of torture except Chris Lighty. Despite his family not willing to accept or believe that their loved one could have committed suicide that is understandable. Mental health has never been big in the Black community and that translates into the musical genres created by Black people i.e. jazz, blues, soul, and Hip Hop. Music has always been the therapy for our community so I wonder how many current or recent Rappers are going through this same level of torture.
Just as the artists before them they mask their feelings of emptiness, depression, and loneliness with drugs, alcohol, sex, and money. This is the same behavior displayed by everyday people like you and I who aren’t in the limelight but continue to feel pressure from family members, fans, or themselves. Who smokes the most/best weed? Who drinks the most liquor? Who’s having the most sex? Who has the most money? If you can answer those questions ask yourself why. Why does that person drink and smoke the most? Why is that person having sex with all these people? They are searching for love and acceptance. No matter how successful a person in any field of work is, if they do not have love of self and/or something to live for than they are susceptible for all the aforementioned behaviors. These artists are on top of the world with an entourage of over fifty people and still feel alone. These people are yes-men and women who make them focus on the money when they should be focused on the message. Working themselves twenty hours in a day, seven days a week is not ideal and you wonder why you hear about artists getting dehydrated and weak because they are being worked too hard for next to nothing. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?