Hilgy is always trying to push out creative art with a powerful message. He recently released his album Mental Health. The rapper took some time to answer questions about his alum and goals for its content.
The title of your album goes straight to the point – Mental Health. What was the statement you were trying to make by putting it right there in the name?
I wanted people to know exactly what this album was about. The first track is a vulnerable conversation I had with a pastor and unveils the direct heart of the album title, Mental Health.
What are your personal experiences with “say a prayer” or “don’t worry, God will fix it” when concerning responses to mental health from the church?
I think the heart of those two statements is the ultimate solution to many of our problems. But sometimes being at the receiving end can make those statements feel dismissive – even if it was well-meaning. We must respond with compassion and walk with our brothers and sisters instead of word vomiting Christian jargon. “Don’t worry, God will fix it” should accompany “we’ll get through this together.”
Why do you think mental health is a taboo subject in the church and is it getting better?
I don’t think mental health in the church is fully taboo anymore. 2020 brought to light how depraved we are and how much we need healthy mental health to navigate this life. As more and more pastors are being transparent about their mental health battles from the pulpit, the stigma that therapy and Christianity can’t co-exist is being broken.
What have you done and what can we do, to help be stewards of better conversations and hold churches accountable for how people deal with trauma?
The first step to curating helpful conversations is to talk less, listen more. Make people feel truly heard. Create spaces where they can share without the fear of rejection or condemnation. Be present.
What’s your favorite Bible story about a situation where someone was dealing with trauma and how God was glorified through it?
I love the at the end of Job after he had gone through many trials he says, “though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” Job had complete trust and faith in The Lord. So much to learn from his story.
You’ve had your own struggles with drugs and addiction. What’s your testimony on how you were delivered and do you still fight urges?
Freshmen year of high school I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. When I was in the hospital they gave me Vicodin to ease the pain. They gave me lots of this stuff…I remember loving how Vicodin made me feel and started forming a dependence. Eight months later I was discharged with no Vicodin to go home with. I found myself going to poker games and playing Texas Hold ‘em every Tuesday night in Chicago where Vicodin was being sold.
Eventually, I turned to OxyContin and then, cocaine. I overdosed on 8.21.2010 at 21 years old. At the hospital, my family thought I was going to die. I remember briefly, my mom giving me a hug, it felt like the love of Jesus. I survived that night and the next morning gave Jesus my life. Then went to my backyard got on my knees and cried out to him for two hours, I had no idea what it looked like to give my life to God but I was in complete surrender and desperate. I told God that if He were to save my life and rid me of my drug addiction I would do anything for him. Long story short I started making music for God and haven’t touched a drug since. Because of Jesus, I am free.
If you had to point to a specific song on your album that was most important and poignant in terms of “this will make you understand” which track is it?
“FLESH OR FREEDOM” — because it points to our own individual hearts first. If someone is not healthy mentally, they can’t help guide someone else to be healthy mentally. Simple as that.
Is it difficult to pour your life out into an album like this and how do you overcome the fear of judgment?
Not necessarily difficult. 90% of my music is testimony music so I’m used to putting myself out there. I think the hardest part would be mustering up the creativity to create and the willpower to not compromise the bars.
As someone who focuses strongly on visuals, what are some things that you wanted to capture in a unique way?
I wanted every music video to look exactly the same but with minor twists. I wanted to lead people outside of the album and towards solutions. There are QR codes inside the TVs in the music videos – that point people to mental health resources (Mental Health Devotional on schedule to release February with The Bible App).
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Was this album therapeutic to you and what are some other issues that you’d like to express in music that maybe haven’t really been covered yet?
The album was therapeutic for me. It felt good to share stories about Mental Health in a creative way. I’m excited for the conversations that are already taking place and the work ahead to be done.