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14th May 2022

Interview: Amy Bell

Photography & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

“All UK rap videos look the same: same rented cars, same bling, same penthouse, same girls. It’s boring. I wanted a change.” - SHOCKA

Shocka experienced an extreme high when his rap group, Marvel, were offered a record deal, touring the country and more. Only to have it all taken away in an instant, which sent him on a downward spiral, and ended him up in a mental health hospital. He’s now using his experience to share a message of self-love through his music.

For Mental Health Awareness Week this year, we're raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.   

Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic.

We got to speak to mental health advocate and grime artist, Shocka, about his own mental health and why it is so important to raise awareness.

We live in a world, so focused on mental health, especially during the pandemic, why do you think it is so important to talk about mental health, especially from a male perspective? 

It’s important to speak about mental health especially from a male perspective as we are really being effected by it on an extreme level; to provide, to look good, to make money, to be somebody in society - there are all these milestones a man has to reach just to gain a slice of respect. 

Do you think we’re not gonna have some sort of mental health issues? I just got out of a mental home and it's men from all different backgrounds going through the same pressures. Speaking about it and getting other men to speak couldn’t be more important. 

I don’t feel that we hear enough about mental health in the black community as much as in other communities, how do you try to express this in your music? 

I feel like music is the best way to communicate a message because to get something through on a subconscious level, it takes repetition and that’s what we do with music we listen over and over again. It’s also how to get through to the youth too, they would listen to a song about mental health before they sit in a class about mental health.

In the black communities it’s not spoken about because we have a belief system around mental health that goes back so long it's clouding our judgement. It’s a new day and it’s time to relearn. Clearly those old ways of seeing things isn’t working and it’s time to create new beliefs, paradigms and perspectives for future generations.

When you are writing songs about mental health, do you write from personal experiences?

I only pull from real experiences because that’s the only way you can connect with people on a deeper level, there’s something magical about the truth you feel and know it's real when you hear it. If you’ve been through what they're talking about you can identify with it and know they're not lying because you’ve experienced it too.

How do you think we can raise even more awareness in our communities to be able to get more support? 

We can raise awareness by creating more safe spaces for people to express themselves, therapy can’t only be the safe space we can go to. There has to be podcasts that are safe and interviewers friends and family. We also have to show how cool vulnerability is - there is nothing beautiful in a relationship between humans that can’t be birthed without vulnerability.Vulnerability is what separates a stranger from a best friend that person is your best friend because you spoke and took time to pull back certain layers about one another. That’s the beauty of vulnerability. And that’s how we bring about change and raise more awareness. Shames dies when stories are told in safe spaces that quote will always stick with me forever.

How have you learned to accept and love yourself? 

I am learning to love and accept myself more and more everyday, by remembering that God/universe/Creator loves me unconditionally. My enemy is the world, it’s the people that judge and make it hard for you on earth, the creator knows my journey and has forgiven me already and that brings me peace. So as long as I remember what God thinks of me and not what the world thinks I’ll always be at peace in the end! And God thinks we are beautiful and wonderfully made.

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