top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Original Hip Hop Therapist

What KRS-One taught me

Lyricist KRS-One, also known as Teacha and Blastmaster, was the preeminent hip hop influence in my youth. From him, I learned about the original five elements of hip hop: Lyricism, turntablism, breakdancing, graffiti writing, and beatboxing.

On his 2003 album Kristyles, Teacha featured a song entitled “9 Elements,” declaring more aspects to the composition of hip hop’s societal faction. While many refer to hip hop as a “culture,” it may be more adequately described as a subculture.

On the “9 Elements” track, KRS-One stated, “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live!” I’ve lived in this subculture for over four decades and I’m still going strong.

Contrary to the proposed nine elements, only four hip hop features have survived: Rapping, DJing, breakin’, and graff writing. I’m part of this lifestyle and I enjoy sharing it with others.

What I teach others

Said to serve as an “African proverb that originated in the United States [U.S.] during slavery when Africans were denied education,” rappers and lyricists alike have used the phrase, “Each one, teach one.” Rather than a rigid demand, this expression operates as a healthy and flexible proposal.

The passing on of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is the function rap music has served throughout my life. To better relate to what I mean when mentioning these essential elements, contemplate the following.

I consider knowledge as an ongoing investigation of truth. I think of wisdom as the application of knowledge over time. I conceptualize understanding as a balance between what is known, what is unknown, and what is believed—all through comprehension of one’s own fallibility.

As a behavioral health therapist, I share my knowledge of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) with others and invite them to frequently practice this method throughout their therapeutic journey. This process takes time and may result in wisdom.

As my clients grow by pushing through discomfort, they can better understand that it isn’t what happens to them that may lead to a distressing outcome. Rather, it’s what people believe about an event which causes self-disturbance.

Hip hop and REBT

A year ago this month, I began a series of hip hop blogposts with an entry entitled “Hip Hop and REBT.” At the time, I hadn’t considered whether or not other psychotherapists were using rap as a psychoeducational tool to help others.

I simply wanted to incorporate one of my passions with another—hip hop and REBT. At the time of writing the current post, I have 48 entries under the Hip Hop and REBT category of my blog.

To my knowledge, and at this time, I am the original hip hop therapist and foremost rap-related REBT psychotherapist in the world. I’m open to be corrected on this matter if I’m mistaken.

Though I’m aware of literature that promotes the therapeutic uses of rap, I’m unfamiliar with any significant hip hop-specific REBT content other than my blog. I’d like to see more content from others.

One imagines Albert Ellis, creator of REBT, appreciating the incorporation of REBT with rap, as he is said to have used music when teaching his method. Nowhere near Ellis’ level of competence, I attempt to improve my practice of REBT through use of blogposts.

It is noted that when drafting this post I came across one mental health website, PATH (Preserving, Archiving, & Teaching Hiphop), that states, “In 2011, PATH piloted Hip Hop/recreational therapy,” and which offers a course entitled “Overcoming Obstacles of the Mind: An REBT Primer.”

However, I remain unfamiliar with the extent of PATH’s approach or how much the organization utilizes hip hop and REBT as a focus area. All the same, I appreciate that others are teaching people with what one source says is a dominating musical genre in the U.S.—R.hythmic A.merican P.oetry.

If there is another behavioral health therapist in the world who can declare the title of the original hip hop therapist, or foremost rap-related REBT psychotherapist in the world, I appreciate your contribution to the field and global subculture alike. Each one, teach one.


In my own whimsical way, this post serves as a lighthearted troll akin to writing “First!” as in a cliché comment written by people within social media comment sections to mark their initial discovery of a previously uncommented post. All the same, I’m staking a claim in hip hop history.

KRS-One was one of the first lyricists to teach me that rap was something other than a medium for entertainment. Using his example, I teach others about how hip hop may be incorporated into the practice of REBT.

If rap is something you do and hip hop is something you live, REBT can serve as something you do and a way to live through which you may improve your life. Are you interested in learning more about how I use rap with REBT principles?

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


College of Education. (n.d.). Each one, teach one. The University of Arizona. Retrieved from

Epic Win. (2010). First. Know Your Meme. Retrieved from

Hadley, S. and Yancy, G. (2011, September 21). Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip-Hop, 1st Edition. Routledge. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Hip hop and REBT. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Hip hop and REBT. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 4). M-E-T-H-O-D, man. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Jdj. (2010, January 16). KRS-One – 9 Elements [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Lackey, S. (2013). REBT in song: Lessons in low frustration tolerance. The Albert Ellis Institute. Retrieved from

PATH, Inc. (n.d.). Therapeutic intervention. Retrieved from

Susic, P. (2023, February 15). 20+ music genre statistics: Most popular music genres (2023). Headphones Addict. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Albert Ellis. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Kristyles. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). KRS-One. Retrieved from

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page