Channel 4 animation series Rap Therapy sees Krept & Konan and D Double E offer mental health advice
The films by Toad London aim to resonate with teenagers, and feature work by illustrators such as Mason London, Elena Gumeniuk and Kris Andrew Small.
- Jenny Brewer
- 25 January 2021
Channel 4 has launched a new short form animated series titled Rap Therapy, featuring some of the UK’s leading MC’s, rappers and lyricists talking openly about mental health. Aimed at teenagers and shared on the broadcaster’s channel E4, the animations candidly tackle vital topics such as grief, body image and trauma via firsthand accounts, and share science-based mindfulness techniques to aid young people’s wellbeing. The films have been directed and produced by Toad London, and visually aim to connect with teenage rap fans as well as stay in tune with the topics at hand.
“We wanted a style that felt authentic to the UK rap scene, but was lo-fi, un-hectic but with subtle camera movements to emphasise the key moments in the stories,” explains Toad’s creative director Daniel Clarke. Each episode was illustrated by a different artist who the team felt best embodied the subject; for example Mason London’s illustration style of “creating subtle worlds with attention to even the smallest of details matched perfectly with the legendary voice of Double D E for our sleep episode,” Clarke tells It’s Nice That. Similarly, Elena Gumeniuk's signature style of “hard-lined, powerful graphics” coupled with Kris Andrew Small’s typography “underpinned Konan's traumatic story about the loss of his step-father,” he adds.
Alice Skinner was brought in to illustrate the Body Image episode with Ms Banks – “[Skinner’s] distinctive, eye-catching aesthetic set in a palette of pinks and pastels felt like the perfect way to visualise Ms Banks’ story,” Clarke continues. For Krept's story about the loss of his cousin and fellow rapper, Cadet, Toad’s team wanted to work with an artist “synonymous” with the rap scene, and chose Dan Evans. And for Ray BLK’s mindful breathing film, the team wanted a “simple soothing style that could calm the viewer” so Nially Cat's “simplistic, lo-fi line quality was a perfect marriage” he says.
Toad London pitched the series after working with a number of mental health charities and repeatedly hearing an alarming, yet unsurprising, fact that anxiety is on the rise among young people. “Lockdown and uncertainty about their future are adding fuel to the fire,” Clarke says, “but regular mindful and therapeutic tools aren't connecting to young people, and we wanted to make something that would resonate.” The films combine personal stories with mental health expertise from South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation.
Toad London: Rap Therapy for Channel 4 (Copyright © Channel 4, 2021). Illustration by Mason London