No matter what you might think about the Aug. 27 Video Music Awards (VMA) broadcast, the 2017 show offered one true showstopper, in every sense of the word.
Logic, an artist signed to the Def Jam record label, presented a gripping, emotional, and life-affirming statement against suicide with the performance of "1-800-273-8255," a rap song named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
He was joined in the performance by Alessia Cara and Khalid, the two powerful vocalists featured on the original recording of the song. About midway through the track, the three were surrounded on the stage by a large group of individuals, some of them survivors of suicide attempts and some who had lost loved ones to suicide.
At the end of the VMA performance, Logic addressed the audience: “I just want to take a moment right now and thank you all so much for giving me a platform to talk about some things that mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about: mental health, anxiety, suicide, depression, and so much more that I talk about on this album—from racism, discrimination, sexism, domestic violence, sexual assault and so much more.” He then went on to call for peace, love, positivity—and equality for everyone.
Logic’s VMA performance was introduced by Kesha, a performer whose professional career was nearly derailed after her efforts to stand up against allegedly inappropriate actions by her producer.
"It has been said that, if you knew who walked beside you, you could never experience fear or doubt again,” Kesha said while introducing Logic’s song.
“Every so often, a rare and important song and video come along that lets us know how true that is. The moving piece of film and music that is the video for "1-800-273-8255" brought me to tears,” she said.
“The truth is piercing and the truth is what matters. And the truth is that none of us are alone. It takes great courage to show the vulnerable side of being human. And we all have that vulnerable side.
“Whatever you are going through, however dark it may seem, there is an undeniable truth and strength in the fact that you are not alone. We all have struggles and, as long as you never give up on yourself, light will break through the darkness. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to you 24/7 if you’re in crisis or concerned about someone who might be. Just dial 1-800-273-8255.”
According to Billboard, the VMA spotlight led to a 50 percent increase in calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline after the performance.
The video of the recorded version of "1-800-273-8255" features a compelling and star-studded storyline focused on the struggles of a gay student athlete who comes close to using a gun to end his life but, at the last minute, chooses to call the Lifeline instead. The song’s lyrics can be found online.
Logic, a 27-year-old originally named Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, grew up in poverty in Gaithersburg, Md. In a May 2017 Rolling Stone magazine profile, he is described as “a proudly nerdy biracial kid whose signature stage flourish is solving a Rubik's Cube while rapping.”