How Pharoahe Monch, MF Grimm, Murs and a Iraq War Vet are using Hip-Hop to treat trauma.

Can you treat PTSD with… Hip-Hop?


  • SGT. ANTHONY BUNCH is a 29-year-old from North Carolina with a laconic manner and a Southern sense of politeness. Almost a decade ago, he was charged as an accomplice in a drive-by shooting, and wound up in front of a judge. The guy, a former Marine, gave Bunch a choice: “Go to war or go to jail.” Bunch chose war. He joined the Army in 2007 as a truck driver in the Army 82nd Airborne. In late 2008, he was shipped to Iraq, where he worked as lead gunner for a convoy. He’d be out in front of a dozen vehicles, manning a spotlight at night, looking out for explosives and other hazards placed in their way. “It was up to me for the whole convoy,” he says. “If there’s something forward that you don’t see, the whole rest of the convoy eats it.” The job was grueling, physically and mentally. Bunch sustained a serious head injury. He was seconds away from being killed by a mortar, and it shook him up so bad that he got married a month later because he was convinced he wasn’t going to survive his tour. “There was a lot of stress on me,” he says. “I can’t begin to describe it.”   
  • These days, Anthony Bunch is fully invested in rapping. He's working on a solo album under the name "Ashes" that he hopes to have out this spring. He's collaborating with Atlanta producer LT Moe, who has helmed tracks for artists like Ludacris and Tony Yayo, and Fade Majah, who has collaborated with Rihanna. He's also forming a label that will not only release music, but also do community outreach to veterans who are homeless. "I know it's not just me," he says. "There are a lot of other veterans who are experiencing the same thing, but maybe don't want to talk about it." And a lot of people who weren't veterans, but who are going through the same trials. "If I could be a spokesperson for that cause, then that'd be a blessing," he says. "All the stuff that I went through -- music is my light."

Shawn Setaro



Shawn Setaro is a noted writer and cultural historian. He has written for "The Atlantic," "The Source," "Vibe," "Esquire," "GQ," and more. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Rap Genius. He has been a speaker at Columbia, The New School, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and has been quoted as a hip-hop expert in "The Wall Street Journal," "The New York Daily News," "The Dallas Observer," and "The Chicago Tribune."

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