This list will introduce you to some popular rap songs about depression.
Until the last decade, it was rare for rappers to explicitly rap about depression and mental health.
In the 2010s, that started to change. In the last decade or so, a growing number of rappers have written about their experiences of isolation, grief, despair, addiction, anxiety, suicide, and depression.
The rise of emo rap certainly saw a lot more rappers talking about their personal struggles and mental health. However, there are numerous popular rappers outside of the realm of emo rap who have also rapped about their experiences of being in a dark and difficult place.
Some of the songs in this list are intensely sad, and share deep feelings of despair and hopelessness. Other songs are more optimistic, and talk about overcoming struggles.
All of these songs hopefully affirm that if you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone.
Some of the greatest rappers of our time have experienced depression, including Kanye, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Mac Miller. In the songs below, these artists share their struggles.
Let’s check out some of the best rap songs about depression from some of our favourite rappers.
23. Feel – Kendrick Lamar (2017)
Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Feel’ is a powerful confessional song from his critically-acclaimed 2017 album Damn. The song sees Kendrick explore feelings of depression and disillusionment. He expresses a sense of isolation, distrust, and disconnection from people around him.
The motif “ain’t nobody praying for me” seems to express a spiritual disconnection, where Kendrick feels the world is cold and lacking in empathy – that no one cares about him on a spiritual level, and that he is alone. The song has a pervasive sense of disappointment and hurt, and Kendrick’s hurt seems to manifest in feelings of depression, as well as pushing people away.
One of Kendrick’s most powerful songs about depression, in which he opens up about a range of dark thoughts and feelings.
22. Beautiful – Eminem (2009)
The candid and stark ‘Beautiful’ is a song that Eminem wrote in rehab. Opening with the line “I’m just so ******* depressed,” Eminem is characteristically direct throughout the song.
The cathartic lyrics show Eminem going through a phase of trying to accept himself with all his struggles, picking himself up by the bootstraps, and ultimately affirming himself.
‘Beautiful’ is a song that reflects the artist’s mood at rock bottom – expressed in characteristic Eminem style – but it is also very much a song about showing yourself empathy and self-acceptance.
The track is the most-streamed song from Eminem’s 2009 album Relapse.
21. Come Back To Earth – Mac Miller (2018)
The opening track to Mac Miller’s brilliant album Swimming (2018), ‘Come Back To Earth’ deals with the struggle between helplessness, despair, and hope. The song has optimistic undertones, but the lyrics are laden with a sense of pain and struggle.
The refrain encapsulates the mood of the song: “sunshine don’t feel right when you inside all day / I wish it was nice out, but it look like rain / grey skies are drifting / not living forever / they told me it only gets better.”
In this song, Mac offers a hopeful glance toward a future in which he can better deal with the struggles of addiction, isolation, and depression.
Mac Miller is a truly great artist when it comes to expressing his struggles with mental health. This one is a beautiful and comforting song from Mac Miller at his best.
20. Slippin’ – DMX (1998)
This moving track from the rap legend DMX is about picking yourself up from rock bottom. The track comes from his 1998 album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.
The song touches on the struggles the artist has faced in life, including his chaotic and violent home life as a child, and the impact that had on him. The lyrics touch on his own violence as an adult, his dependence on substances, and his desire to change for the benefit of those around him, including his son.
The chorus “ayo, I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I gots to get up / get me back on my feet so I can tear s*** up” reflects the sentiment that DMX does not want to be consumed by his past, but is intent on moving forward.
19. Jocelyn Flores – XXXTentacion (2017)
‘Jocelyn Flores’ is amongst XXXTentacion’s most popular songs. The song reflects the artist’s feelings as he deals with the his friend, Jocelyn, who committed suicide.
The soulful and downtempo track has led to many rumours and much speculation about the identify of Jocelyn Flores. Interview with the artist revealed that it is about a girl who he came across online and became infatuated with. He invited her to visit him and model for his clothing line. The pair fell out, and X made her leave his house. Shortly after, she committed suicide, aged 16.
The lyrics see the artist reflect on guilt, pain, and numbness surrounding his friend’s death. A stirring and sad rap song, that has found resonance with millions of X’s fans.
18. Grief – Earl Sweatshirt (2015)
Earl Sweatshirt’s dark and introspective 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside sees the rapper delve deep into his struggles. ‘Grief’ was the lead single from the record.
The slow and bleak ‘Grief’ is one of Earl’s most striking songs about depression, with the lofi instrumentals giving the track a deeply heavy feeling. Earl described the songs as ‘a final lament and epilogue.’
Both the sonics and the lyrics create a claustrophobic and paranoid feeling, in which Earl seems to find himself isolated, and struggling alone.
Earl has been praised for giving expression to dark feelings with eloquence. The grittiness of his delivery does not glorify the sense of depression, but hopefully offers solace to listeners who may relate to him.
17. Busy / Sirens – Saba feat. theMIND (2018)
Saba’s stirring and beautiful track ‘Busy / Sirens’ deals head on with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection from others. The lyrics speak to the complexity of grief, guilt, and depression.
This track, like many on his 2018 Care For Me album, deals with the murder of his cousin John Walt in 2017. The feelings of dislocation that Saba raps about seem to stem from the disorientation and trauma caused by that tragic event.
In the lyrics, Saba refers to ongoing fears of further catastrophe. The chorus seems to suggest the artist is purposefully disconnecting from others out of a sense of fear: “I’m havin’ a busy day / I’ll hit you back right away / I seen that skies were grey / I hope to God you’re safe.”
A beautiful and emotional rap song in which Saba shares a great deal about his sadness and loneliness.
16. I Feel Like Dying – Lil Wayne (2007)
Lil Wayne is one of the most successful and best selling rappers of all time, which makes his raw confessional song ‘I Feel Like Dying’ all the more striking.
For a rapper whose music generally views drugs in a positive light, ‘I Feel Like Dying’ shows how slippery the slope to addiction can be, when the user begins to struggle with actually being sober.
The song deals with the topic of coming down from various drugs including marijuana, codeine, and Xanax. As the refrain makes clear, Lil Wayne talks about the feeling that comes after the drugs wear off: “only once the drugs are done / that I feel like dying, I feel like dying.”
A stark and introspective rap song about depression, drugs, and suicidal thoughts.
15. I Fall Apart – Post Malone (2016)
In this song, Post Malone gets real about a relationship that has broken down, and the effect that it has had upon him. The track is an example of how a broken relationship can bring feelings of self-doubt and depression to the surface.
The features dramatic trap/pop production, and Post Malone does not hide from feelings in the lyrics. He raps about how he turned to alcohol to numb the pain of the break-up: “Ice keep pourin’ and the drink keep flowin’ / try to brush it off but it keep on goin’ / covered in scars and I can’t help showin’”
As the title suggests, the impact of the relationship is so consuming that he feels himself ‘fall apart’ as a person. The track comes from Post Malone’s debut album Stoney (2016).
14. Self Care – Mac Miller (2018)
Towards the end of his life, Mac Miller’s songs often deal with the themes of addiction, isolation, and depression. ‘Self Care’ is a nuanced song that touches on these topics indirectly as Mac paints a picture of a drug-fuelled trip, and also speaks of a mission to look after himself.
Although the lyrics talk about self care, and the song has a theme of overcoming struggles, it is not clear that the scenarios Mac describes see him sober or on substances.
The lyrics are highly visual, and the song culminates with a stirring coda in which Mac “got stuck in oblivion.” The image he gives of oblivion is evocative and near euphoric, giving the song a complex atmosphere. Mac is seemingly caught between wanting ‘self care’ and wanting the relief of oblivion.
The track comes from Swimming (2018) – arguably Mac Miller’s best album.
13. How Could You Leave Us – NF (2016)
The confessional ‘How Could You Leave Us’ is a stirring rap song by Christian rapper NF, which deals with the death of his mother, who died from a drug overdose.
The song sees NF explore in depth his feelings about his mother. This includes feelings of abandonment, grief, and sadness, as he recalls memories of his mother, and the effect that her addiction and subsequent neglect had on him.
The lyrics are focused mostly on the rapper’s perspective, as he grapples with the effect that his mother’s addiction had on him. A sad and beautiful rap song that reveals a rich and complex emotional world.
12. Internal Bleeding – Kid Cudi (2014)
Kid Cudi’s lyrics are often dark and raw, delving into difficult and painful emotional states. His song ‘Internal Bleeding’ is one of the clearest examples, with Cudi bearing his pain and anguish for all to hear.
The song comes from the artist’s Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon (2014), and reflects a sense of hopelessness. However, at the same time as expressing pain and despair, Cudi contrasts the sentiment of hopelessness with the image of a “warrior man,” alluding to a sense of resilience.
Through the graphic metaphor of internal bleeding, the refrain captures the sense of pain that is so clear in this song: “tried it all / hey, done tried it all / I can’t stop this internal bleeding / my heart is leaking.”
11. Outside The Cave – Otis Mensah (2018)
This track from British rapper Otis Mensah sees the artist at his best. Known for his poetic and introspective lyricism, this moving track is about overcoming struggles, anxiety, and depression, and coming out from a dark place.
The lyrics deal both with personal struggles, and with the role of supporting others who are going through difficulties. The song offers a power message about managing disillusionment and maintaining hope.
The song is beautifully poetic. The chorus captures the sentiment of acknowledging pain and looking towards hope: “I’ve been guilt tripping myself, just living my hell / I’ve got some hells under my belt / the heaven I felt is fading / and you can feel the pain enslave my cadence / but my faith is built bodacious, leave my pride beside the pavement.”
10. Runaway – Kanye feat. Pusha T (2010)
One of the most popular songs from Kanye’s acclaimed album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), ‘Runaway’ sees Ye grapple with dark thoughts about his failed relationships.
The song has a dramatic and somber feeling, and sees the artist reflect on his perceived failings. The track ultimately has Kanye warning any prospective intimate partner to stay away from him because he can “never take the intimacy.”
‘Runaway’ has a sense of self-imposed isolation, and the refrain captures a sense of self-loathing with the striking line, “let’s have a toast for the douche bags / let’s have a toast for the assholes / let’s have a toast for the scumbags.”
One of Kanye’s saddest songs, offering a raw and unvarnished portrait of the iconic rapper and his struggles.
9. Scared of Love – Juice WRLD (2018)
Emo rapper Juice WRLD’s ‘Scared of Love’ is one of his best-known songs, and delves into the artist’s complex relationship with himself and his intimate partners.
The song deals with Juice’s struggles with addiction and his search for love, underpinned by desperation and depression.
The song describes a relationship in which the artist is overwhelmed, yet not getting “enough.” The sentiment of the song is summed up in the simple line, “all I ever do is get f***** up / all I ever wanted was a real love.”
The track comes from Juice WRLD’s 2018 album Goodbye & Good Riddance, and epitomises the artist’s struggles with addiction, relationships, and depression.
8. U – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Kendrick Lamar has openly spoken about his experiences with depression in interviews. In his song ‘U,’ Kendrick delves deep into his self-doubt. One of the artist’s all-time saddest songs, ‘U’ sees Kendrick talk about self-critical and suicidal thoughts.
About the track, Kendrick has said, “That was one of the hardest songs I had to write. There are some very dark moments in there. All my insecurities and selfishness and let-downs. That shit is depressing as a motherf*****. But it helps, though. It helps.”
The track comes from Kendrick’s acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly, which was one of the most iconic and successful rap albums of the 2010s.
7. Solace – Earl Sweatshirt (2015)
Earl Sweatshirt is known and loved for his deep and introspective lyrics. His 10 minute EP ‘Solace’ (2015), which consists of just one song by the same name, is a case in point.
The song runs through a series of phases and downtempo beats, and sees Earl’s lyrical talent totally on point, as he eloquently shares his feelings. The track touches on themes of loneliness, sadness, and nostalgia, depicting evocative domestic scenes.
The record’s concluding lines are some of the best: “To tell you the truth, I’m at a loss of friends / well, time waits for no man and death waits with cold hands / I’m the youngest old man that you know / If ya soul intact, let me know.’
6. SAD! – XXXTentacion (2018)
‘SAD!’ is XXXTentacion’s biggest hit. The legendary emo rapper who died too young is well-known for his emotionally raw songs, and ‘SAD!’ epitomises the artist’s style.
The lead single from his album ? (2018), ‘SAD!’ topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart following the rapper’s death on 18 June 2018. With two billion streams on Spotify, it is one of the most-streamed songs in the world.
Lyrically, the song deals with themes of isolation, depression, and suicide – recurrent themes in XXXTentacion’s songs. The song also touches on X’s struggles with relationships, and the topic of co-dependency.
‘SAD!’ is without a doubt one of the all-time most popular rap songs about depression, finding resonance with the artist’s young fanbase.
5. Rock Bottom – Eminem (1999)
‘Rock Bottom’ is a raw and powerful song based on Eminem’s own experiences of poverty and depression. The song explores how desperation and economic deprivation can drive people towards violence and crime.
The track comes from Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP (1999) and in an interview, he explained the way the lyrics relate to his own experiences of losing his job and being unable to support his daughter.
He said: “That was the worst time ever, dog. It was, like, five days before Christmas, which is Hailie’s birthday. I had, like, $40 to get her something. I wrote ‘Rock Bottom’ right after that.”
The song powerfully describes a state of helplessness, depression, and desperation brought on by poverty.
4. Suicidal Thoughts – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
Biggie’s song ‘Suicidal Thoughts’ is a striking and disturbing song which sees the legendary rapper delve deep into self-judgement, guilt, and depression. The song comes from his 1994 album Ready to Die.
In the lyrics, Biggie discusses various things he has done wrong, expressing the feeling that he is unworthy of forgiveness or love, especially from his mother. Ultimately he expresses his wish to take his own life. The lyrics are chilling and extremely sad.
The lyrics are structured as a phone call between Biggie and Puff Daddy, who answers the phone to Biggie in the middle of the night. Puff provides some consolation as he listens and tries to persuade Biggie to see things differently.
Biggie was tragically murdered on 9 March 1997. Many consider him to be one of the greatest rappers of all time.
3. Good News – Mac Miller (2020)
Mac Miller’s track ‘Good News’ shows the artist at his best, with a song that deals with feelings of weariness, disappointment, and dislocation. Although the mood of the instrumentals is light, and the lyrics have an optimistic thrust, Mac’s sense of tiredness comes through clearly.
The first lines in the second verse capture the song’s sentiment perfectly: “when it ain’t that bad / it could always be worse / I’m running out of gas, hardly anything left / hope I make it home from work / well, so tired of being so tired.”
A poignant and beautiful rap song about depression, isolation, and the hard work it can take to stay above water.
2. 1-800-273-8255 – Logic feat. Alessia Cara and Khalid (2017)
The phone number which makes up the title of Logic’s hit song was the number of the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Although the number has now changed to 988, the phone number in the song title still directs to the helpline.
The direct and powerful track reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and was nominated in 2018 for Grammy awards for Song of the Year and Best Music Video.
The release of the song led to a large increase in calls to the helpline, and a study found that the song may also have prevented a number of deaths.
The song tackles the subject of depression and suicide head-on, with it’s stark and direct lyrics. One of the all-time most powerful rap songs about depression and suicide.
1. Soundtrack 2 My Life – Kid Cudi (2009)
Kid Cudi is an artist who is well-known for dealing frankly and vulnerably with topics including self-doubt, isolation, and depression. ‘Soundtrack 2 My Life’ is one of his signature tunes, and it deals with depression directly.
The song’s iconic chorus summarises the sentiment of the song: “I’ve got some issues that nobody can see / and all of these emotions are pouring out of me / I bring them to the light for you / it’s only right / this is the soundtrack to my life.”
The song sees Cudi baring himself to the listener, and giving expression to a lot of negative feelings, in what seems to be a cathartic way.
The song comes from Cudi’s legendary album Man on the Moon: The End of Day (2009). One of the best rap songs about depression of all time.
If you are going through a difficult time it is important to speak to someone. If you are not able to speak to family or friends, here are some numbers you can call:
- Samaritans (UK) – 116 123
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (UK) – 0800 58 58 58
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) – 988