CW: Self harm, suicidal ideation
Rapper, songwriter and social activist CHIKA announced her retirement via Twitter on April 10. The retirement message began with a harrowing statement: “it’s really cool watching the world not give a f*ck and paint you as a villain.”
The St. Olaf Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) hosted “An Evening with CHIKA” on Friday, Jan. 22, an event that drew in a multitude of St. Olaf students who were excited for an intimate performance with the artist. CHIKA performed several of her songs, including hits such as “Industry Games” and “Balencies.”
For those who attended “An Evening with CHIKA,” it may have seemed as if she was at the top of her game. Reactions to the virtual performance were positive; students praised CHIKA for her lyrical genius and genuine personality. However, behind the scenes, CHIKA was struggling as an artist.
In her announcement, CHIKA explained that she had first told friends, family and her therapist about possibly retiring from music due to the toll the industry had taken on her mental health. When she took to Twitter to say the same, fans and haters alike bombarded her with negative reactions. Some anonymous Twitter accounts even encouraged CHIKA to harm herself.
“When you have depression, the negative self talk you have towards yourself is deafening,” CHIKA said in her tweet. “Now imagine a slew of weirdos dogpiling on top of thoughts you already have to fight off yourself.”
After a hiatus from social media, CHIKA took to Twitter again on April 18.
“I am alive. I am okay,” CHIKA said in her new tweet. “I’m not retiring. After what I’ve endured in the past few days, I’m not ever allowing anything to stop me or almost take me from this ghetto ass earth.”
CHIKA continued a Twitter thread underneath the initial tweet, thanking fellow rapper Cardi B for reaching out to check on her. CHIKA also reiterated that she would still be taking a step back from social media to focus on her mental health.
Unfortunately, lack of support for Black artists is already common in the music industry. For a self-identified fat, Black and queer artist such as CHIKA, the hate is even more prominent. After CHIKA’s initial announcement, she was admitted to Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, Calif. She took to Twitter once again to reveal that she had been mistreated while in the hospital’s care and was pursuing legal action.
Stories such as CHIKA’s continue to go unnoticed in the music industry, especially for Black musicians. Thankfully, CHIKA received the help she needed.
“The note screenshot was not about quitting, it was about ending my life,” CHIKA wrote in a follow-up statement on April 18. “I dunno who called who, but paramedics broke my door down to save my life. Thank you to whomever was looking out for me that night.”
As of right now, CHIKA will continue to make music and hopefully continue to dominate the rap game.