Maino and the emergence of hip-hop as a source of mental resilience

January 30, 2020

London, January 30, 2020 - Born in Brooklyn, New York, the rap artist Maino (Jermaine John Colman) takes his experiences not only from growing up in the famous borough, but also the 10 long years he spent behind bars at Riker's Island Penitentiary. A new dialogue paper, by two academics and co-founders of HIP HOP PSYCH (HHP) in Forensic Science International: Mind and Law, published by Elsevier, review Maino's time behind bars using his lyrics, and exploring the connections between hip-hop, mental health and resilience.

"Hip-hop has opened up new conversations around mental health with hard-to-reach groups around the world," noted the HHP co-founders, Akeem Sule, MD and Becky Inkster, DPhil, both of whom hold affiliations with Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge, UK. "Which is being driven in part by influential hip-hop artists, like Maino, speaking openly about their own struggles."

The global influence hip-hop has and its particular relevance to youth culture means it must continually find new ways to reach its audience by creating innovative solutions. Hip-hop dominates music streaming services and connects with listeners around the world; the lessons of past mistakes some hip-hop artists tell through their music is often a hardship that listeners can find some commonality with.

Several mental health disorders can also be tied back to such adverse social and environmental experiences (including incarceration, financial difficulties or loss of a loved one). Depression may often result and is projected to be the second-leading cause of disability in 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

The dialogue paper specifically focused on the resilience factors exhibited in Maino's most well-known track, 2009's 'All the Above', and others including his latest release, 2019's 'Motivation'. As a public figure with well-documented life experiences such as interviews circulated through social channels like Instagram and Twitter, the researchers were able to gain further insights as to what resilience factors shaped Maino's journey and what might inspire others to discover their own resilience.

"Our views of Maino's lyrics do not necessarily imply a permanent level of success for his life's trajectory. Sometimes his lyrics reference positive outcomes, but it does not limit the possibility that Maino could still be exposed to critical life events in the future," said the co-founders. They also want to emphasize the intention of their paper is to not present a forensic psychiatric opinion of Maino, nor a diagnosis of a mental disorder or providing a prognosis of his reoffending chances.

The co-founders make connections between his lyrics and various concepts relevant to mental health such as stress inoculation, locus of control, cognitive reframing, positive visual imagery, turning points and psychometric tools for measuring resilience.

While Drs. Inkster and Sule cannot say for certain that Maino may, or may not reoffend, they highlight the critical need to examine opportunities to use hip-hop as part of already established restorative justice programs, both inside prison and out in the community, to help limit reoffending and improve the chances of successful rehabilitation.
Notes for editors

The article is "Hip-hop's Survival Anthems: Incarceration Narratives and Identifying Resilience Factors in Maino's Lyrics," by Akeem Sule, MD and Becky Inkster, DPhil ( It appears in Forensic Science International: Mind and Law, published by Elsevier.

This study was published open access is available by clicking the above DOI link.

Copies of this paper are also available to credentialed journalists upon request; please contact the Elsevier Newsroom at

Journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact Drs. Becky Inkster and Akeem Sule at, or Dr. Sule at +44 77 9003 03 64 and Dr. Inkster at +44 77 3847 80 45.


HIP HOP PSYCH is an initiative co-founded by Dr. Akeem Sule and Dr. Becky Inkster. It explores how hip-hop can be used to refine psychotherapies and psychoeducation, to enhance recruitment in psychiatry and expand neuroscience research, and to help with public health education and anti-stigma campaigns. This initiative translates mental health information in an accessible manner, while incorporating cutting-edge medical, psychological and neuroscientific research to promote the positive messages that hip-hop music has to offer.

About Forensic Science International: Mind and Law

Forensic Science International: Mind and Law is a gold open access journal which promotes the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas between psychiatric, psychological, legal, and other related fields within the forensic spectrum and beyond. To that end, FSI: Mind and Law will publish papers illustrating the intersection of 'mind' and 'law', across the fields of psychiatry, psychology, criminology, neuroscience, sociology, ethics, criminal law, civil and social law, criminal policy, and health service research including delivery of care, with a special significance given to human rights law.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we're committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

Media contact

Jonathan Davis, Global Communications
+31 20 485 2719


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