Hip-Hop State of Mind

Hip-hop artist and mindfulness instructor JusTme uses music to teach mindfulness.

Photograph by McNair Evans

Three years ago California rapper Tim Scott Jr. was working at a YMCA branch as a front desk greeter—“hitting members with handshakes and smiles and joy”—when mindfulness hit him. At a job training session, he drew the attention of educator J.G. Larochette, founder of the Mindful Life Project in Richmond, CA. Larochette asked Scott if he knew what mindfulness was. “Nah, not really,” Scott replied. Over a cup of coffee, Larochette introduced him to mindfulness and, before long, Scott became “JusTme,” a hip-hop purveyor of mindfulness for children in local public schools. Scott now has his own venture—JusTmindfulness—and a kid-friendly YouTube channel that features podcasts and such raps as “D.F.Y.L. (Don’t Flip Yo’ Lid)” and “Ain’t Worried” and “Mindful Life Style.”

“Don’t Flip Yo’ Lid” delves into how it’s difficult not to react when we’ve been triggered by stressful situations. Scott discusses how negative talk and cruel people can activate our fight or flight response, raise cortisol levels, and how different networks in the brain raise alarm bells (or go offline) when we’re flipping out. It all comes back to why it’s important to come back to our breath—and take a few when the mind is racing.

For a full Q&A where Scott talks about how hip-hop has transformed from an emotional outlet for him into a powerful tool for teaching mindfulness, read the October 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.

Don’t Flip Yo’ Lid

An excerpt from one of JusTme’s most popular songs:

People messin’ wit me on a constant. I don’t want be bothered wit the nonsense. How the brain works. Gotta know the deal. Don’t wanna lose it. Gotta find a way to keep it chill. Don’t flip your lid. Gotta give your brain a break. Deep breaths so you don’t make a mistake. I don’t want no problems I’m a nice dude. Tryna stay cooler than ice cube.

First I started out in a nice mood. ’Til people causin’ problems wanna act rude. That feelin’ in my stomach got me feelin’ wrong. In my chest I can feel the anger coming on. I’m tryin’ hard to not blow it. Fight or flight. Fight or flight. And the fights growin’. Checkin’ out the brain like a CAT scan. Tryna understand how to act when I’m angry, I’m scared or stressin’. I’m wild’n out. Gotta learn to get it back man.