B-Sides 4: Kehlani, Kid Cudi, how we talk ab mental health
This week’s playlist highlights Rita Ora, Childish Gambino, and Demi Lovato. View this email in your browser
The B-Sides is a newsletter, but I am toying with the idea of posting some letters on Medium.
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The B-Sides Letter
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For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am always incredibly concerned with the welfare of celebrities.
It’s a little bit much but, whatever, I care a lot. Honestly, why the fuck should I not be concerned? Especially when celebs are having a hard time as a direct result of being famous — I feel implicated in that in some way as a fan.
Trigger warning: discussion of depression and self-harm
In the last year there have been a number of musicians speaking honestly about their struggles with suicide and depression. This is simply and totally a great thing. This kind of honesty from our celebrities provides hope and healing for so many people. But it doesn’t always turn out so well…
Lil Wayne talked about his struggles on a Solange song. Kid Cudi wrote a confessional facebook post about his depression. Kehlani was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. In the months following, she spoke to her audiences and fans about her personal struggles, while encouraging us to take care of ourselves and each other.
Fans did not react to these moments equally. When Kehlani publicly discussed her struggles, fans treated her in some pretty disgusting ways. The aftermath of her hospitalization — from the fans’ perspective — is worth discussing. This article in Paper explains it all really well:
It’s absolutely beautiful that Cudi has been so open about his recent struggles and his brave attempt to seek help. Mental illness is still unduly stigmatized in our cultural discourse, especially for black men, so it’s been even more amazing that he’s received this outpouring of support.
However, this deluge of empathy also highlights how prevalent sexism still is in the conversation about mental health. Take Kehlani’s case earlier this year, in which she was hospitalized for a suicide attempt following a particularly vicious bout of public shaming that resulted from a rumor that she had an affair with producer PARTYNEXTDOOR, while she was supposedly in a relationship with Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving.
Similar to Kid Cudi, Kehlani was very open about her hospitalization, posting an Instagram detailing her desire ‘to leave this Earth,’ but ultimately feeling glad that she was still alive.
However, unlike Cudi, Kehlani was subject to incessant online harassment, made into a recurring joke and told she was hamming it up after her post. She wasn’t, and still hasn’t been, afforded a fraction of the public support Kid Cudi has accumulated since he bravely shared his note (and undoubtedly saved lives) on Tuesday. In fact, her trauma has resurfaced as yet another joke in the wake of this huge conversation about treatment and self-care.
Which is troubling, especially when you realize that the same people sympathizing with Kid Cudi are the ones laughing at Kehlani — and actively defending their mirth.
I am heartened by the positivity coming from so many fans towards Kid Cudi and Lil Wayne and, on a smaller scale, towards Kehlani. I am also freaked out by how terribly we handled Kehlani’s crisis, even though sexism in our culture shouldn’t surprise me. The way we treat celebrities reflects how we are as a society. In these moments of crises, we see the internet as a mirror being held up to us all. Our progress, and our serious shortcomings, are made crystal clear.
So: we have a lot of work to do. But the good news is that Kehlani is back and better and fiercer than ever, despite some terrible treatment. Her new album SweetSexySavage is amazing.
On the playlist, I’ve included “CRZY” by Kehlani and “Trapped in my Mind” by Kid Cudi as topical// great songs. What other Kid Cudi and Kehlani songs do you like? Are there others you think tell the story of their journeys?
“Reflections,” MisterWives — A more recent song of theirs was called “a middle finger to the patriarchy.” Listen to “Not Your Way” here.
“Rock Bottom,” Hallie Steinfield and DNCE — I will never not love to hear Joe Jonas’ voice in my ears and that’s just the truth.
“For You,” Demi Lovato — Demi is my #1 favorite artist of all time for real. I put her on this playlist because she has been very forthcoming and outspokenabout her mental illnesses and journey to healing. She is incredibly talented and I think it shows on this song. Ballads are really where she shines, but I’m hearing from you all that you want these playlists to beupbeat, so I’m introducing you to “For You”!
“Write on Me,” Fifth Harmony — Throwback: this was recorded when there were still five women in FH and before the whole drama with Camila Cabello leaving. What do you all think of her departure and how all sides handled it? I expected Camila to get a lot more sh*t than she has, so good for her?
“Sober,” Childish Gambino — Donald Glover is just the best. He is easily going to be the biggest star of 2017–2018. More coming from his newer album soon. And if you haven’t watched Atlanta, catch up before it comes back on TV! HIGHLY recommend.
Please enjoy this video of Kim Cattrall (Samantha from Sex and the City) scatting. No really — PLEASE ENJOY IT! As this article says, “Watch this. Tell your friends to watch it. Memorize it. Think about it at least once a day. I have and, believe me, it’s made my life better.”
What am I missing about Maroon 5?? I have never liked them but they are super famous and beloved. Plz explain thank you.
Sarah B-S says:
During my last year of college, I got kind of secretly obsessed with “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. I continued to listen to it from time to time but was always embarrassed about how much I genuinely loved the song. After listening to the B-Sides and hearing “Run Away With Me” I realized I actually just love Carly Rae Jepsen in general. Thank you B-Sides for encouraging my listening to Carly Rae Jepsen without shame!
OK EVERYONE THIS HAS BEEN FUN BUT I AM DONE WITH THE B-SIDES. I HAVE ACHIEVED MY #1 GOAL FOR THIS PROJECT WHICH WAS FOR PEOPLE TO LOVE CARLY RAE WITH NO SHAME. Jk I am sticking around but honestly Sarah this is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Power to you
Sasha F-S. says:
hannah gives us the feeling that she’s friends with all her favorite pop stars, which is inspiring.
It is my absolute pleasure, Sasha, to pretend I am friends with celebs. Pro-tip: use only first names. People will think you know Miley or Taylor well. This lesson is free.
Alright everyone. What do you think about this week’s letter? What confuses you about pop music? What is your favorite underrated pop song? What am I missing about Maroon 5? Etc.
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Hannah Zoe // The B-Sides