Mental Health Therapy Through Therapeutic Hip-Hop Beat Making with Dr. Elliot Gann

Mental Health Therapy through Hip-Hop Beat Making - Dr. Elliot Gann interview

On this episode of Hip-Hop Can Save America!: healing trauma in young people through therapeutic beat making. Dr. Elliot Gann of Today’s Future Sound breaks down the concept, his acclaimed work in the field, and the neuroscience behind it all.


Welcome to another episode of Hip-Hop Can Save America!, aka, ‘the world’s smartest Hip-Hop podcast.” For information about everything we do, visit If you find these shows valuable, you can help support the work at, and follow our parent organization The Center for Hip-Hop Advocacy on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram at @hiphopavocacy.

Now. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, evidence abounded suggesting that mental health issues were increasing among adolescents and teens in America. The reasons aren’t always completely clear, though the side effects of being a digitally native generation may play a part. Regardless, the statistics are sobering. The LA Times, reporting on the research, stated “that between 2008 and 2017, Gen Z’s emotional distress and its propensity toward self-harm grew more than for any other generation of Americans during the same period. By 2017, just over 13% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 had symptoms consistent with an episode of major depression in the previous year — a 62% increase in eight years.”

As with too many other things in America, the effects are disproportionately worse for communities of color. Not only does living in a society built on racist principles and policies mean that youth of color are more likely to experience trauma — both physical and mental — they are less likely to receive treatment. An imperfect health care system, cultural stigma, and now, a life-altering stress monster of a pandemic, all contribute to an avalanche of undiagnosed, untreated issues. With COVID-19-related school closures reducing access to school counseling professionals, many young people have lost one of the only outlets they had to help cope.

For years, however, Dr. Elliot Gann has been proving that Hip-Hop provides an engaging and effective method to help young people deal with their emotional trauma through a process called Therapeutic Beat Making. It sounds like how it sounds. Through discussion, learning about how Hip-Hop music is made, and hands-on creation, young people are finding ways to cope — and have a good time in the process.

After a long time of juggling schedules — I was finally able to catch up with Dr. Gann who — pre-COVID, would travel the world conducting workshops — We spoke earlier this summer, and while the pandemic lockdown was in full swing, nothing has stopped Dr. Gann, aka PhillipDrummond, from making the world a more bearable place through Hip-Hop.

Here’s my talk with Dr. Elliot Gann.