In a letter posted to his Twitter page, James Blake has criticised the use of the term “sad boy” for describing men who express their feelings, as he says it only adds to historical stigmatisation of mental health issues.
Blake, who openly explores male vulnerability and emotional complexity in his lyrics, experienced a fresh wave of people calling him a “sad boy” following the release of his new single “Don’t Miss It” yesterday.
In the letter he posted he said, “I can’t help but notice, as I do whenever I talk about my feelings in a song, that the words ‘sad boy’ are used to describe it. I’ve always found that expression unhealthy and problematic when used to describe men just openly talking about their feelings.”
The phrase entered the pop-culture lexicon with the rise of cloud-rap artist Yung Lean who regularly uses it to describe himself and also has it printed on hoodies, t-shirts, and caps for fans.
Blake went on to say that “We are already in an epidemic of male depression and suicide. We don’t need any further proof that we have hurt men with our questioning of their need to be vulnerable and open.”
The letter concludes with Blake candidly revealing that he’s “seen enough friends drown in this, and almost drowned in it myself because I bottled everything up, afraid of being seen as weak or soft. I now see the great strength, and benefit for those around you in actually opening up.”
In a follow up message, Blake then pointed to a tweet posted by Pitchfork – that shared his new track with the caption “Yes, James Blake is still sad” – and said “Case in point”.