Joey Bada$$ Opens Up About Mental Health Among Black Men in America: 'It's Such a Taboo Topic'

Illustration for article titled Joey Bada$$ Opens Up About Mental Health Among Black Men in America: 'It's Such a Taboo Topic'
Photo: Tim P. Whitby (Getty Images)

When he’s not out here starring in Oscar award-winning films, Joey Bada$$ is juggling a thriving music career, the demands of fatherhood, and plenty of other opportunities as he continues to ascend. As such, he’s a prime candidate for Spotify’s podcast Best Advice, which features both up-and-coming artists and legacy acts opening up about their successes and missteps throughout their careers.


Fellow rapper Jeezy was a recent guest on the popular series, and on its latest episode, the “Devastated” spitter joins host Kim Taylor Bennett to discuss fatherhood, the mental health obstacles that Black men face in America, and an assortment of other topics.

“I feel like every day, even just with the topic of mental health, is such a taboo topic. It’s such an invisible thing,” he says. “It’s such a hard thing to just grasp and pinpoint. There’s people that we talk to every day that we would never even know are going through extreme mental pitfalls. With the Emotional Intelligence [2.0] book I feel like it really brought in my awareness on just picking up on nonverbal cues and stuff like that from the people that are in my life every day. Even understanding my own emotions and, and you know how to deal with that.”

He continues, “And, you know, just the ties to it as being a young Black man in America and how [...] we grew up feeling like we had to throw off our emotions or ignore them. It gave me just a new perspective on embracing those feelings and embracing those thoughts and understanding like why I was feeling certain ways that I feel or why other people who feel the certain way they feel or why they might even say things. And it be really covering up things that are way under the surface that they really are trying to get out.”

Joey also made it abundantly clear that while it presents its fair share of challenges, especially as his career continues to skyrocket, he loves being a dad.

“You gotta plan your whole child’s life for the time that you’re gonna be gone, you’re taking care of somebody else,” he says. “It feels good. It’s my favorite job, you know what I mean, out of everything that I do. It’s absolutely my favorite job. So I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m absolutely happy.”

He also maintains that despite having to be more disciplined with his time, fatherhood hasn’t negatively impacted his creativity.


“It just moves you to open those doorways, to pry them open,” he says with a laugh. “I only got four days to get this motherfucker open, so we’re gonna open some doors. [...] I can’t wait till Saturday. Yeah, yeah I can’t. Like now I’m walking around with the crowbar.”

He also touched on how his platinum single, “Devastated,” propelled his career into an entirely different trajectory.


“‘Devastated’ was an anomaly because one, it wasn’t the sound that made me famous, that brought me notoriety,” he says. “It was just this record that kind of happened out of nowhere. It was so left, it was so different. [...] It was a doorway. It was opening a door to like artistic freedom. I’ve never made a song like this previously and this is my biggest song. [...] For me that was like a huge goal accomplished because I struggled with—the whole first portion of my career—with trying to break this box that I felt like people put me in. So for that record to come out and it had been successful it was like, ‘Yeah, see, I told you.’”

Check out Joey’s full episode of Spotify’s Best Advice below.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.