>It shouldn’t be surprising that many references are made to madness in various forms of music, given the historical and cultural connections made between madness and artistry and genius, but it is perhaps surprising that, in contrast to the frequent references to anxiety and depression in musical genres commonly associated with whiteness (alt-folk, country, and alternative rock), hip-hop artists’ most common reference is to schizophrenia and psychosis. On the Dr. Dre song “Natural Born Killaz,” Dre raps that he is “doomed to be a killer . . . with a heart full of terror.” Ice Cube responds: “I’m the unforgiving, psycho-driven murderer / It’s authentic, goddamn it, schizophrenic.” 2pac raps on “16 on Death Row” that he’s “kind of schizophrenic, I’m in this shit to win it” while Vince Staples on “Loco” says hes “Been a schizo crip though off of 65th though/
Anybody killer I ain’t aiming when the shit blow.” These lines, with their powerful, violent drive, constitute an appropriation of the label thrust upon them by police, by doctors, and the public. This theme is even more explicitly expressed in Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 track “The Blacker the Berry” where he expresses in forceful, half-shouted exclamations the hatred he feels surrounding him, the general disregard and dishonor for his identity and what gets attached to it as well as the rage and anger he feels in response. “Burn, baby, burn, that’s all I wanna see/ And sometimes I get off watchin’ you die in vain” he sings vengefully, quickly adding “It’s such a shame they may call me crazy/ They may say I suffer from schizophrenia or somethin’/ But homie, you made me.” Everything is there in those beginning lines: the representation of rage in response to horror as insanity, and specifically, with all its connotations of delusion and now paranoid aggressiveness, schizophrenia.