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Wellness Wednesday

A grief journal for hip-hop lovers

Detail from the cover of '7 Day Grief Journal for Hip Hop Lovers.'
Detail from the cover of '7 Day Grief Journal for Hip Hop Lovers.'Nakara White
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by Sean McPherson

December 29, 2021

We're welcoming Nakara Forjé, formerly known as SoloStar. She's an incredibly gifted performing artist, and she just released an album called #lovehangover2. Today, we're talking about a recent release outside of the music world: published under the name Nakara White, it's a seven-day grief journal for hip-hop lovers.

Sean McPherson: I've really never navigated a grief journal before. So before we talk about your particular grief journal, what's a grief journal in general?

Nakara Forjé: I would just categorize it as a space to kind of write out your thoughts and your feelings on your grieving process. Something that kind of helps you navigate it. Sometimes when people journal, just depending on their writing style, or how often they write, they don't know where to start. And so this kind of gives you a starting space and a prompt to kind of tap into those emotions.

Can you give me some examples of what kind of prompts you have inside this seven-day grief journal for hip-hop lovers?

Yeah, for sure. Day one was inspired by the Jay-Z song “This Can’t Be Life.” It says, “grieving the life you thought you would be living.” We all had thoughts as children of the life we believed we would have as adults; nine times out of 10 your current circumstances are far from that fantasy. It's okay to grieve the dreams that have not come true. Write about the life you have planned and make room for new dreams to manifest.

I think something I also wanted to tackle was looking at grief from various perspectives. It's not just losing a loved one or friend, not just about death. In general, there are a lot of things that die or don't thrive in our lives. Or thinking about grief from the standpoint of - like this one says - the life that that you thought you'd be living, or dreams that have not yet come to fruition, or relationships that have died in your life. Just kind of changing the narrative about what what grief looks like.

It seems to me, maybe you go 10 years back, you would kind of think of hip-hop and grief as belonging in different buckets. Because it's a culture that comes out of a lot of bravado, not a lot of vulnerability. In some of the hip-hop I listened to…even Jay-Z [is] somebody who for so long I associated with just, “everything's perfect, my life is amazing.” Do you feel like with your book, you're also doing work to sort of bring grief into the hip-hop conversation and culture?

I don't think I'd need to do the work to bring grief into the culture. Because when you listen to rappers when they're being a little more transparent, they talk about their losses, they talk about some of the hard times they had to endure, to get to the good times that they now brag about. And so I think when you're really a fan of hip-hop, you understand that it's part out of pain, it's birthed out of lack and poverty and grief. And so a lot of times on the radio, we just hear the the party tracks, but [when you] dive deeper into the music, you get those other aspects of people's lives and what they really went through.

How did you go about writing this book? What was your process for putting it together?

I was actually writing another journal, and this one was kind of birthed out of Covid and a season of loss for me. I've had some some pretty major losses in my life: I've lost my best friend, I've lost a child. Just kind of reflecting on those times, not performing as much being a mother, I began to tap into this book. I had the format from a previous journal that I worked on, I haven't released yet or put together; I kind of thought this one should come first. But taking hip-hop quotes and merging them into my thoughts and ideas is something that I do all the time. I just love hip-hop. Everything I do has some kind of hip-hop involved, so [I was] just thinking about how to help people process their pain, and look at things differently. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, and so I just wanted to present opportunity to help other people process the way that I process or find their own process.

If folks are hearing this and feeling like this is the right thing for them to pick up, where can they find out more about this book or pick up a copy?

It's available on Amazon…there's really not anything like it for hip-hop lovers. If you're looking for a way to creatively express your innermost thoughts, if you love to journal, any of the above, if you have experienced a loss, I think this book is for you. It really transcends each individual genre that it touches on it. I think it's a pretty dope idea, not just because I came up with it.

Every Wednesday morning at 8:30 CST, Jill Riley (today, guest host Sean McPherson) connects with experts and local personalities for some real talk about keeping our minds and bodies healthy — from staying safe in the music scene, to exercising during a pandemic, to voting and civic engagement. Looking for more resources and support? Visit our friends at Call to Mind, MPR's initiative to foster new conversations about mental health. Subscribe to Wellness Wednesday as a podcast on SpotifyAppleRSSRadio PublicStitcher, or Amazon Music.

This week, Wellness Wednesday is hosted by Sean McPherson and produced by Anna Weggel and Jay Gabler. Our theme music is a portion of the song "F.B. One Number 2" by Christian Bjoerklund under the Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 International License.