This Ohio Rapper Launches Hip-Hop Mental Health Program To Help Black Youth Cope

Cleveland rapper, Archie Green, has experienced the limelight, having earned a reputation for his talented beats and advocacy for mental health.

Image Credit: Cope Dealers

In 2014, Green was clinically diagnosed with depression and put his experience into words in his song, “Layers.” In April 2016, national outlet Vice news invited him to be part of a story on hip-hop and mental health. Soon after, other artists like Cleveland-born hip-hop artist Kid Cudi went public about his battle with depression. At the time, “Layers” garnered thousands of streams.

“‘Layers’ is the most transparent, autobiographical song I’ve ever written,” Green previously told Cleveland Local News. “It was a very dark time in my life, and I’d kind of gotten to a point as an artist where I wanted to get to that next level of really digging deeper. It was therapeutic for me to write that song.”

Green launched “Peel Dem Layers Back” in November 2016, in response to the positive response he’d received for his personal testimony. According to its website, he designed his nonprofit to “educate, empower and equip Black Men and Boys with essential tools necessary to live a mentally healthy life through healing hang-outs and cultural, artistic expression while representing hip-hop culture.”

His efforts continue as a self-proclaimed “neighborhood Cope Dealer.” The name was inspired by the Cope Dealers Initiative, a free 10-week comprehensive mental health awareness workshop that focuses on juniors and seniors who have had behavior and anxiety challenges. Green launched the program in hopes that high school counselors and teachers can work collaboratively in identifying these mental health challenges within the youth.

Eight students from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, are members of the initial program. Led by Green, the program creates mental health awareness by analyzing lyrics to songs produced by the “Layers” rapper. The young Black youth are encouraged to channel their creativity by recording original lyrics based on lived experiences. Meanwhile, a licensed social worker helps the students navigate their mental health challenges throughout the program.

Green hopes that his program “helps them [students] process what they’ve heard and what they learned in this album and the various scenes in the movie that are tied to trauma, tied to PTSD, anxiety, grief, dismantling white supremacy,” Green told the Atlanta Black Star.

The teens in the first round of Green’s Initiative are slated to finish the program in March with a completed mixtape and a concert they’ll perform for their school.

In looking to the future, Green wants to expand the Cope Dealers Initiative program into schools.