In today’s hip-hop culture we see most artists flexing money, cars, and their newest addition to their jewelry collection. We scroll down our social media timelines paying witness to these luxurious lifestyles and think about how good life must be in their shoes. But we never get to witness the reality of their lifestyles behind social media, and how these artists may face inner battles on a daily basis.

A study by the digital distribution platform Record Union was recently taken in April 2019. They conducted a study that involved 1,489 independent music artists, and it showed 79% of those artists suffer from symptoms of anxiety or mental illness.

Independent artists face many obstacles while attempting to make a name for themselves in this industry. They have to find their sound while making sure it’s something people can enjoy, face the challenges of financial instability, question if signing to a record label is beneficial for their careers, and then manage to perform at a high energy in front of an entire crowd of people. The last few years, we’ve seen a rise on the subject of mental illness in rap lyrics. A lot of it can be accounted for by the Soundcloud wave of rappers such as XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, and JuiIn ceWRLD. Sadly, we’ve lost two of the artists mentioned to overdose. Yes, JuiceWRLD’s death was an accidental overdose but it shows how our young artists more than likely choose to self-medicate and may be uninformed on healthier options to cope with their issues.

Remaining to stay inspired amidst all these obstacles requires an abundance of good energy. Someone who comes to mind when seeking an example of independent artists who impressively balance a career in this industry and a healthy lifestyle is the rap duo from East Atlanta, EARTHGANG.

Earthgang consists of two members by the names Johnny Venus and WowGr8. In a recent interview with Bleu Magazine, it was stated that the duo “…draws upon resources outside of themselves for constant inspiration.” They intend to use energy and deliver it back to the fans in their music. Johnny Venus stated “The fact that I’m out here connected to something greater than myself, it makes me want to connect and co-create with the things around me. Sound and life experiences and how they intertwine are my main inspirations.”

Johnny Venus is becoming the artist young independents can take inspiration from. Throughout this global pandemic and the long months of quarantine the entire country participated in, Johnny Venus (@johnnyvenus) alongside Yoga instructor Zaineb Hassan (@zizi.yoga) have been hosting #NamasteAtHome yoga sessions on Instagram live.

These sessions are the perfect gateway into helping independent artists find ways to make a healthier lifestyle. On occasion you may see fellow artists partaking in the event, such as J.I.D, Buddy and Kent Jamz. There is a need for more artists to show that it is okay to take time to work on your health and well-being. Breaking the stigma that activities like yoga, and meditation are signs that someone is “soft” or “weak” can make a great difference in the lives of our music artists. Each live session is healing, and a free space for not only artists, but their fans as well to take a break from the troubles of their lives.

Johnny Venus also hosts #RISENGRIND workout sessions on Instagram live with fitness trainer Joshua Jackson (@joshuagrindz). Working out is another healthy option independent artists can partake in, getting your body right and at the same time relieving stress. Venus oftentimes speaks on the importance of a healthy mind, body and soul. Young independent artists struggling to find a balance in the stresses of pursuing a long and successful music career can really benefit from partaking in the healthy lifestyle options Johnny Venus enlightens us too.

Mental illness is a serious matter that we should bring more light to in the music business. The stress of being in this industry can take serious tolls on these artists, if more artists begin to take a step out of the box like Johnny Venus… we’d witness a better state of mind in our independent artists.