Belfast Telegraph

JAY-Z stresses importance of mental health awareness

The rapper recalls meeting Amy Winehouse during her battle with alcohol.

JAY-Z has urged fans to tackle mental health issues head-on following the tragic death of his former collaborator Chester Bennington.

The 99 Problems hitmaker got to know Chester and his Linkin Park bandmates during the recording of their 2004 mash-ups album Collision Course, and he was saddened to hear of the singer's suicide last month (Jul17), just weeks after the tragic loss of his close pal Chris Cornell.

JAY-Z, who recently paid tribute to the rocker at his V Festival show in the U.K., touched on the topic during the second part of his Rap Radar podcast interview, which was released on his Tidal streaming service on Friday (25Aug17).

"Not only do we have to watch our... physical health and what we're doing with our bodies, but also mental health," he said. "A lot of people go through trauma and you're too embarrassed to get help for it...

"A lot of times, we tend to be like, 'They were selfish (by committing suicide).' It's like, no they wasn't (sic); they're sick, they're in pain. I can't even imagine that kind of pain, especially unchecked. We're not dealing with that because it's not the cool thing to do."

The rapper hopes such high-profile tragedies will encourage those struggling with depression and similar issues to turn to professionals for help: "These things unfortunately have to happen on a large stage so everyone can see (and be inspired to seek help)," he shared, branding Chester's death "an unfortunate situation".

JAY-Z continued, "I think that we can use it and hopefully, as a society, we use that to go forward... People can start getting help for what they're going through, talk to somebody...

"These losses could be lessons. Someone somewhere could be looking at Chester and be like, 'Man, I wasn't feeling so good and I need to get some help or I need to talk to somebody about it.'"

The conversation also turned to the loss of singer Amy Winehouse, who had struggled with alcohol addiction in the years leading up to her 2011 death, and JAY-Z remembers encouraging the Brit to take care of herself when they first met in New York City.

"I looked her, and I was like, 'Stay with us,'" he said, explaining she had been "stuttering" due to her heavy alcohol intake. "The first time we hung out, I said, 'Stay with us.'"

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