Studies indicate that journaling can be just as effective as therapy in helping people change. If this is true, then rap music is the ultimate journaling! When rapper Snoop Dogg burst on the scene much of his music focused on "Chronic" (weed smoking), "Gin and Juice" (alcohol drinking), "hookers and hoes" (derogatory lyrics about women) and "murder was the case" (gun violence). At the time of this writing, his life and lyrics have changed dramatically. He now coaches a youth football league and many of the youth whom he has coached have earned division I football scholarships and several play football in the NFL. He recently published a cookbook entitled, From Crook to Cook. He recently released a 22 song gospel album.
Rapper Jay Z transformed himself from drug dealer to multi-millionaire entrepreneur. This transformation is even reflected in his wardrobe, from sagging pants to pulled up pants and suits. Rap is autobiographical journaling. On the Black Album he explains the connecting between his early drug dealing, womanizing and his father leaving the family. He stated:
"Now all the teachers couldn't reach me and my momma couldn't beat me hard enough to match the pain of my pops not seeing me, so, with that disdain in my membrane, got on my pimp game fuck the world my defense came. Then Dahaven introduced to the game, Spanish Jose introduced me to caine (Cocaine), I'm a hustler now,"
Years ago he wrote a song entitled, "Song Cry" about a woman that left him after he cheated on her. While he was sad he couldn't cry. Here are the lyrics.
"I couldn't see em falling down my eyes so I've got to let this song cry."
He kept writing and who would ever though he would begin his 444 album (released 16 years later) with these words, "Cry Jay Z Cry." This was in response to his nearly losing his wife Beyonce due to infidelity and his desire to transform his life to save his marriage and family. Years removed from drug dealing on the 444 Album he rapped of charity and legally building generational wealth.
In the beginning of his career, Oscar and Grammy winning rapper Eminem described himself as the "white Tupac Shakur." Their commonalities included, music genre, poverty, drug addicted mothers and absent fathers whom they hated. Like many youth I have counseled Eminem used marijuana, alcohol and other drugs to cope. He kept rapping (journaling) and his Relapse and Recovery Albums (released in 2009 and 2010) were transformational. He is now in long term addictions recovery.
Addictions counselors reading this post should be aware of the role creativity can play in recovery and be willing to incorporate a variety of mediums in their work with clients including art, music, movement, dance, poetry and journaling.