Hip Hop is Therapeutic
by Lou Simeone
Lou participated in our writing groups at John Jay Center for Justice and Opportunity. This year we are so fotunate to have him join us as an intern! Lou is working on creating a Hip Hop curriculum. He is taking a course on Hip Hop in college. He's discovered research on Hip Hop therapy as well as people and organizations using Hip Hop therapeutically with young people.
This book is an excellent and fun resource to share the history of Hip Hop with young and old alike!
As you may know, writing in general can be healing, therapeutic and empowering. Therapeutic Hip hop writing is another form of writing that has been proven to have many positive benefits.
Hip-Hop writing can open doors for young artists to express themselves and talk about the community and Society. They get to articulate their perspective about the urban environment and many young adults use it as a coping mechanism that improves their mental health. It’s proven that it heals the brain because freestyling puts the rapper's brain in a unique flow state, which touches their emotions, language, motivation, motor functioning and motor processing.
The repetitive nature of Hip Hop provides a sense of safety and some say that it is way a patient trusts much more than a way of traditional therapy. Hip hop’s origin comes from African roots but the style began in the Bronx in the seventies. Hip hop is made up of African drums, jazz, blues, reggae, funk and soul and that combination provides an incredible energetic writing experience. The artists can create their own beat, by beatboxing , which is a beat in your mouth or even on a school desk without even using an instrument and just a pen and a piece of paper and a creative mind. Dancing to Hip Hop has a physical benefit where the oxygen flows through muscles in a person's body which decreases stress and lowers blood pressure.
For many it's a voice for the oppressed to political advocacy and it's a way to tell their story. Some reenact the pain they've gone through in life and speaking it and putting a beat to it lessens their trauma and healing occurs. A positive experience can be the result and that's another reason therapeutic hip hop writing can be an important tool in a young adults writing resume.
There are many ways to write Hip Hop; Start with the prompt or think about a theme tell your story start to create a beat in your head and find a catchy hook to be the chorus then use your fingers and tap the beat on a table or with your mouth ,ie.. beatboxing and soon the lyrics will match the beat and the therapy begins and the story is told.
Padilla, Tatiana R., "From spitting rhymes to inspiring minds : the role of hip hop therapy in treatment engagement amongst Latinx and Black youth : a project based upon an investigation at Beats. Rhymes and Life" (2016). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.