WASHINGTON, DC–According to an American Psychological Association report released Tuesday, a large percentage of U.S. rappers may suffer from unrealistically high self-images, placing them at risk of a host of emotional and interpersonal problems.
The study–which examined the attitudes and self-perceptions of over 600 MCs in hoods across the U.S., including Illtown, H-Town, Strong Island, the Brooklyn Zoo, Harlem World and Long Beach–found that nearly 95 percent of those surveyed suffered from a distorted sense of their own prowess, particularly with regard to wealth, sexual potency and influence over their peers.
"While personal confidence is a vital aspect of building a healthy self-image, an exaggerated sense of self can lead to trouble," APA study head Dr. Judith Danziger said. "The overconfidence these rappers display can have a wide range of negative consequences, from humiliating defeat at the hands of a superior MC to getting a cap placed in one's ass."
The most common manifestation of rappers' distorted self-images, the study found, is gross overestimation of their own rapping skills. A full 98 percent of MCs participating in the study claimed that their style could not be imitated and never duplicated, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.
"Very few of these rappers have styles that cannot be duplicated. In fact, we found that most of these rappers have remarkably similar microphone styles," Danziger said. " Yet nearly all of them have somehow convinced themselves that they are unique."
Often, Danziger said, rappers' inflated, unrealistic self-images get carried over into their interpersonal relationships, adversely affecting their ability to establish healthy, mutually fulfilling long-term relationships with members of the opposite sex.
"One young rapper I spoke with told me that he 'be trading women like Eddie Murphy trading places' and that he 'got bitches cleaning my house, cleaning my gold, doing my shoelaces,'" Danziger said. "For a relationship to thrive, there needs to be a sense of shared responsibility and mutual respect. When one partner is cleaning the other's house and gold, the partner who is doing the cleaning is likely to experience feelings of resentment over the imbalance. Inevitably, this will drive a wedge between the pair."
"Another MC I spoke with told me that he has a bitch who will suck his dick until he nut, spit it on his gut, and slurp that shit back up," Danziger said. "While a strong sense of sexual adventurousness and a willingness to experiment is a great way to keep a relationship fresh over the long haul, it only works if that spirit of adventure is reciprocated, and the man is willing to try new things to please the woman. With many of these rappers, however, this is not the case."
In addition to causing relationship problems, the study found that inflated self-images tend to cause rappers to overestimate their personal finances. Many of the MCs participating were found to be living lifestyles well beyond their means, taking nightly baths in Cristal, wearing custom-made Armani suits, and sporting 10 Rolex watches on each arm. One New Orleans-area rapper reported driving a solid-gold, diamond-encrusted tank.
"Even millionaires need to do some amount of basic budgeting," accountant Morton Kessler said. "The sort of extravagant spending in which these rappers indulge–indiscriminately buying yachts, helicopters and fleets of bulletproof Mercedes-Benzes without any eye on the bottom line–is a recipe for financial disaster."
According to UCLA Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Ernest Bloch, the distorted sense of reality exhibited by many rappers may indicate a predisposition toward a wide range of serious mental disorders, including schizophrenia.
"Many of these rappers create fictional, internal universes that, for them, become a sort of alternate reality," Bloch said. "For example, a young rapper named Kurupt told me how the feds have tapped his phones, and how he's wanted in more states than John Gotti. A New York-area MC by the name of Nas told me that he was recently chased in his Lexus by CIA agents but managed to escape when Pablo Escobar, his business partner and passenger, shot the driver of the pursuing vehicle. These sorts of paranoid, delusional fantasies are classic warning signs of schizophrenia, and an afflicted rapper's condition can deteriorate to the point where he is completely insane in the membrane."
Danziger urged rappers suffering from unrealistically high self-images to get help now, before their problems grow worse.
"Early detection is crucial, as treatment only becomes more difficult as time goes on," Danziger said. "Remember: These rappers' mic skills won't stay sharp forever, and when they do fall off–and the record sales plummet, and the major-label contracts dry up–there is almost always a corresponding depression. We need to recognize that, deep down, these rappers' boasts are actually a desperate shout-out for help."