Music, mindfulness, and mental health: an interview with Joe P. the MC
Joe P. the MC is a Los Angeles-based lyricist who makes all of his own music. He performed this freeverse rap piece called “Mental Health” in support of Mental Health Month. Joe took some time to tell us about how he got into creating music, and explained why mental health is such a meaningful topic to him.
You can find more music by Joe http://fanlink.to/joepthemc.
Q: What sparked your interest in lyricism and music?
A: I remember my interest in lyrical rhyming began at a young age - my mother was an English teacher, and I remembered learning to speak by making up rhymes to songs. Language became a skill important to my success socially, musically, and academically - it was even the topic for my personal statement when I was applying to law school. While I completed my JD, I wrote lots of complex lyrical rhyme schemes and performed in bands. It’s something I have always been doing for fun, and I always planned to do music full time entrepreneurially once I graduated.
Q: Mental health is a subject that’s important to you - why is that?
A: Since graduating JD, I experienced anxiety and depression. It took me a while to pass the bar exam, and people I loved - who I thought loved me - treated me very differently for pursuing music still in my twenties. I felt like they thought that I was less of a person for believing in my music path and treating it like a business plan. To me, my intellectual property law degree, my business degree, and my lifelong musical dedication squarely fit. It devastated me to feel judgment from strangers and see “naysayers” believe I would fail. It wasn’t always even in the words people said to me - I could see their judgment in their facial expressions, their body language, and their overall demeanor toward me.
These feelings and pressures drove me on a long journey of soul-searching and self-awareness such that I became a RYT-200 yoga instructor. I teach yoga at CorePower 5-7 times a week to keep learning and growing in my creative path. Mindfulness has been an immensely helpful tool for me to manage my feelings and my well being. Through yoga, I feel like I am able to apply the universal connection of my breath work, focus, and moving meditation to my performances, videos, and songwriting every day.
Q: Do you still struggle with your anxiety or depression?
A: Definitely. There are deep emotional rollercoasters you go through when you share your art, not to mention hours of screen time and constant stimulation. Social media and the internet creates a space for people who say mean things for no reason, which is both hurtful and makes it challenging to keep going in the face of hate. This makes anxiety and depression more real in my life, and in the lives of my friends/family who also make music or are aspiring artists online in 2019. Everyone is finding ways to express themselves online while battling fear, failure, and fixation on their path to success.
This is something that I want to help alleviate for myself and my community - I feel blessed to help in those ways with music and teaching yoga.
Q: What inspires you to keep creating, despite all your struggles?
A: Over the years, I have lost several of my family members and friends, and I feel compelled to honor their lives by living my own authentic path. Since age 22, I’ve lost several of my best friends to the opioid/violence epidemics and other drug/suicide related incidents. However, these same people were my supporters - they believed in me, and that’s what inspires me to keep creating my lyrics and my music to help shed light on important issues that are causing massive deaths in our community.
The spirit of all these people I lost lives on in me - they loved me, they believed in me, and I channel my connections to their lessons, light, and love with every day.
By creating my lyrics and my music, I get to pursue these dreams through expression. My life journey thus far and my experiences make me who I am, and inspired this particular song as well as my ongoing musical work on my journey, forever.
Lyrics provided by, and reposted with permission of Joe P. the MC
My brother looked me in the eye and said he wanted to die
My mother heard it and she cried before my chance to reply
Our father watched as we philosophized to brighten his mind
A soft reminder every person faces pain in their life
For no reason
Human brains have snow seasons
We show screens to our soul’s windows to grow deeper
Watch em flexing
Complications in our memories
For society’s proprieties
Minds to miss the lessons
On the internet
Denying things they promised with technology
Illness in your brain remains anomalies
For humans sailing choppy seas
But no degree
Can make your life’s occurrences
Or dopest things
You gotta see
When freedom guides our prodigies to grow with joy
Blue light gets you so annoyed
Meditation over joys
Your nervous system
Choked with noise
So breathe deep
Fill your lungs
To see peace
Let your gasping decrease
Leave your drowning knee deep
Reset my possibilities
To foster inner peace
If you believe it you receive it
In the mental frame you script
Embraces shifts to flow your
Your energy and brainwaves
Without displacing gifts
For disruption from the drainages
and all the pain it gives
Healthy food thoughts and acts flow our health and greatnesses
So choose life
breath mind and spine
In its alignment
Devine mindsets pave the
ways your brainpower can find this
in your soul
The future’s up to you
to choose to grow
What a gift to fuel your whole
Way of life and use it full
These tools are used in unity
To fuse a truer, newer me
If only you will choose to see me
we can prove we’re truly free
Ascension happens lucidly
Beyond the the doubt and lunacy
fluidly we choose to be
(Huge breath of fresh air)