Pusha T, Ella Mai, Jussie Smollett & More Give Aspiring Artists Advice on How to Maintain Their Mental Health

Ella Mai, Pusha T & Jussie Smollett
Getty Images, AP; Design by Jessica Xie

Ella Mai, Pusha T & Jussie Smollett

Today, more and more aspiring artists are hungry to break into the music industry. While many try to run and chase after their dreams head-on, several tend to lose sight of what matters most throughout this arduous process: themselves. Even when artists are able to finally get a hold of their elusive dreams, they fail to take care of their mental health, an issue that has become ubiquitous in the hip-hop community.

The biggest hindrance for many young artists coming up is their lack of knowledge regarding the importance of mental health. In hopes of building a stronger understanding on the issue, Pusha T, Ella Mai, Jussie Smollett, Styles P, Royce Da 5'9'', Big K.R.I.T. and Sylvan LaCue are each dishing out their best advice to Billboard on the importance of maintaining your mental health while pursuing a music career, advice that ranges from having a simple conversation, eating the right foods, and having a tight crew.

Take a look below. 

Jussie Smollett

Continue to write and create for yourself. Write about yourself. Self-care is really important. And again, I’m trying to be as honest as I can. I’m not really good at that. I’m trying to come up with a good answer but I’m not good at that. I’m not good at it yet, and I know the way I stay mentally healthy is by admitting things. I admit that I’m jealous, I admit that I’m insecure and that I’m not good at certain things. I’m getting better at it.

I wish I had something really deep to say but I’m in my 30s and I’m trying my best to learn that I can’t bend anymore. I’m about to break. Also for me, it’s about finding the joy in what we do. I don’t believe in happiness because I feel like happiness is an emotion that can be taken away. Joy is something that lives deep inside of you. That’s why I find joy in my sadness, frustration, love, hate, excitement, whatever emotion I’m feeling at that moment -- joy is always there.  

Pusha T 

Mental health is something that I'm totally not even well-versed on. I'm just getting hip and I feel like first and foremost that's something that should be talked about in the black community, because I grew up in a household where "crazy" is used so loosely. I don't think my mom or my dad today even subscribe to you know, crazy. They don't subscribe to that. They're like, "What? You know what I went through?"

They have that mentality. So I'm learning more and more, you know watching things on suicide and so on and so forth. I feel like with mental health and what I'm seeing is that most people need that outlet to talk. If you can talk through your issues and not feel bound by embarrassment or whatever the case may be, I feel like that's step one. If you can speak out it, then you're on the road to calming that breakdown. 

Big K.R.I.T. 

Maintaining your mental health while pursuing any career is extremely important. Having someone to talk to; it can be a therapist, it can be family, friends, but having someone to be able to really just divulge what you're dealing with how you feel in the moment is very important. There's nothing wrong with expressing yourself. If you have a bad day, tell people you had a bad day. You know, they might be able to shine some kind of positivity on the situation. 

Not running to your vice is extremely important. It's very dangerous to use your vice every time something goes wrong and in order to get over your problems because you're not really going through the problem naturally. So, what happens is that it's going to get worse and worse until you crash. If you go through it naturally, if you get into the bottom of why you feel a certain kind of way or why something affected you so much, then, the next time, it probably won't be as bad if you do it sober. 

Once again, just be honest with yourself and honest with the people around you with what you're going through and what you're dealing with. It's very easy to get caught up in the workload, to just keep pushing, trying to be a superhero with these kinds of things and if you're putting your emotions to the back burner, at some point, they pop up, and it stops everything. That's what you don't want. It goes with panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

Talking through these things are probably some of the best things you can do and not medicating, or substituting your vice. Eating better, keep positivity around you, keeping away from all the negativity and sometimes getting away from social media and what that may mean [are good alternatives] because there's a lot of negativity in that too.

As us humans, sometimes, all the positivity in the world can be there and we somehow are going to see the negativity. So just being aware of that, staying prayed up, doing right by yourself, talking about your emotions and not abusing your vices are extremely important. Please maintain your mental health while pursuing anything in life. 

Royce Da 5'9''

Everything is rooted in confidence. So, really, the only way to build your confidence is when you're talking about doing something. Like if you have a God-given talent, with that talent, you gotta practice, and it's like a use-it-or-lose-it type of thing, but you gotta practice, practice, practice, until you feel like you're so good at it, and it makes you confident. And when you're confident, it makes it so much easier for you to stay outside of your own head. You don't want to be living inside your own head. That's basically the same thing with artistry. 

A lot of artists are controlled by other people. You know, they're ran by the consumer. I was having a conversation with my little brother and he was like, "Yo. I'm kind of trying to find my place, artistically." I said, "It'll be easier for you once you know exactly what you wanna hear." All of that comes with time. You know, a whole lot of time with your craft, getting good at actually A&Ring yourself and then, actually having the vision so you can work towards that vision. Only you will know if it's right or not, that way you'll only be seeking validation from yourself. You're not looking outward for that. You'll feel more validated.

Ella Mai

As an artist myself and speaking on personal experience, a lot of the time we put music [first] because it's our career and it's our first love and that's what's most important to us, but we can't forget that at the end of the day, health is number one in all aspects. Your physical health and especially your mental health [are important] because if you're not in the right head-space, you can't even concentrate on your music. 

So you definitely have to take the time out and have the perfect balance of stuff that makes you happy and stuff that you love to do, as well as doing your music, which sometimes seems like it can't be done because music is a 24/7 career and almost a job. You definitely have to take the time out to relax and detox and do stuff that you love when you get the chance to.

Even if you don't and if you don't feel like you have the chance to, you have to make the time for it because like I said, you can't perform at your best if you're not at the right headspace or do anything, like interviews. Just remember that that comes first and the music is not too far behind.

Styles P

Watch your energy and just try to be peaceful. Really watch your energy, what you're eating, who you're around, how you spend your time and just try to be positive. Try to be positive because what you give out is what you'll get back. It may not be on time, but you'll get it back.

You need to really focus on your craft and don't let the fucking pressures of the game get to you. Everybody has mental health issues, if you ask me. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't have some sort of mental health issue one way or the other. Especially for young artists, focus on your craft and stay smiling.

Try to make yourself laugh, stay joking and [know that] everything that glitters ain't gold. You can't judge a book by its cover. You're gonna have good times, you're gonna have bad times and that's just the fucking way the ball bounces. Pray and give out good energy because it's a fickle game. 

I learned from a few execs, and this is what calmed me down years ago: I once saw a multi-millionaire go flat broke when everybody thought he was rich and he got it right back. I've seen that with a couple of people. Then, as you study entrepreneurs and different businessmen, there are people who gain success, lost success and got it back.

So when you're in the game, rap has a tendency where you worry about how you look to everybody and for everybody. When you catch that down, fuck how you look. Focus on getting it up and don't worry about that. Don't worry about your image. Don't do any of that shit. Just stay up and stay steadfast whether it's financial, physical, emotional, whatever the fuck it is, you catch that down and get back up. 

Sylvan LaCue

Do things to reaffirm who you are outside of music. It's very important to know who you are outside of what you do because you are who you are and what you do is how you do it and what you decide to do is how you do it. Word to Phonte. I would definitely say take time to know when you need to turn it off and to do things that make the person come alive, the soul come alive because the person influences the music, not the other way around. 

I would also say take care of your physical health. Physical and mental health is one of the same. As artists, we run super, super hard. We don't sleep a lot. We have a lot of bad diets and a lot of vices that come with this industry, so it's just knowing when to moderate and when to take care of your actual physical health because when you feel better, you're going to think better and when you think better, you're going to do better. 

Know your cost and know your price in this industry. In my opinion, especially a lot of times as aspiring artists, we get caught up in the idea of making it so much that we forget what our cost and what our price is and that can drive us into an oblivion and cause us into a depression because we're like, "What does it take? What does it take?"

You have everything it takes, just know your cost and know your price as you're going through this journey. Remind yourself constantly of your price, because that's what's going to keep you balanced. Also, having a relationship with God is going to keep you straight and narrow [during those hard] times.