This is branded content created in partnership with Sound Mind.
Community is what drives Troy Donald Jamerson, better known as Pharaoahe Monch. The Queens-born MC known for his decades-long career built on complex, interlocking lyrics and rhymes credits his intimate knowledge of Black America’s struggle for stability as a formative force in his life. Troy’s mother and father both worked punishing early shifts, and Troy saw how that hard work provided stable ground in the face of adversity.
But that safe harbor could only insulate Troy so long, and with so much external struggle around him it was difficult to think that internal strife was important. “When you want to discuss emotional instability it’s difficult to feel worthy,” he says in the latest installment of the Sound Mind Unmasked video series. “It’s something you don’t talk about.”
Each video in the Sound Mind Unmasked series features an artist sharing their mental health journey, opening up about the toll touring and recording can take. Unmasked is focused on as shining a light on free mental health resources available to everyone, as well as fostering an open dialogue about mental health for artists and audiences alike.
Uncompromising dialogue has always been part of Troy’s artistic impulse, and that candor has helped him come to terms with his own emotional and psychic battles. He points to the power of his music and personal community to help him through the dark times in his life. “Fortunately I have the best family and the best friends and I felt like these guys have supported me,” he says. “What’s fly about the culture of hip hop is that it respects real truth and honesty.” His 2014 album, PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, explored those frank topics with deft lyricism, putting words to the struggle that he and so many others endure.
Still, Troy knows that many in his orbit and community are facing their demons alone and he hopes to change that through partnering with Sound Mind on the Unmasked series. “Too often we feel societal pressures to function in our everyday lives with the weight of overwhelming circumstances,” he says. “My hope is that by sharing my story we can accentuate the strides we’ve made by pinpointing the root cause of some mental health issues. If we continue to evolve in our communication and encourage people to better articulate their feelings, we can one day eliminate tragic outcomes.”