H.Y.P.E Hip Hop Therapy Program Uses T.I. To Counter Depression Among Black Youth


Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”

~Tupac Shakur


Daily stress, particularly related to racial discrimination, can increase risk for depressive symptoms (e.g., feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest, anger) among African Americans transitioning into adulthood (ages 19-25), according to a 2012 Washington University in St. Louis study. To address this health concern, Atlanta area youth participated in the online Hip Hop Therapy curriculum H.Y.P.E.: Healing Young People thru Empowerment, through a partnership with BlackDoctor.org. H.Y.P.E. is a globally recognized curriculum that integrates psychology and rap music into groups that explore topics including peer pressure, anger management and family issues.

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In a recent H.Y.P.E. Online workgroup, participants discussed depression, anger and the role forgiveness plays in their lives. The youth openly shared their experiences with sadness, and after listening to T.I.’s song “Still Ain’t Forgave Myself,” identified triggers and steps for living happier and healthier lives.

The following are reflections from H.Y.P.E. Online participants:


I believe this H.Y.P.E. group was ordained for me! Anger, regret, depression, and fear were all emotions we touched on. One important lesson I learned is when you are finally relieved from that one thing that was harbored in your heart, you feel like you’re on top again! You’re liberated from yourself. When the chains fall off, it’s like positive energy and good vibes enter your body like missiles! Nothing can stop you! That’s what these H.Y.P.E. groups are all about. They are meant to break cycles and create new ways of thinking. It gives us a new outlook on living life! Life is not supposed to be awful and full of despair and anger. It’s entirely too short for that foolishness. Yes things will happen that will discourage you, but that’s only a test of faith! You have two choices: give up or step up. Even then, you may be afraid and tempted to do the “normal logical” thing, which will keep you in the same place. But stepping up and doing the “impossible” will give a different type of refreshing rush! So many blessings will pour down on you! Your life will be a testament to others, which can help them in so many ways too.At the end of the session, we listened to TI’s song “Still Ain’t Forgave Myself.” In that song, it felt like he released all of the negative things in his past for the redemption of his future self. This song is so relatable to my current situation because as people, we make mistakes, but it’s our job to learn from them. At a point in life we are going to feel this way but I have to get up and not let it define who I am! At a point I have to forgive and let go. I thank TI. for this song because it gave me a mirror to look at myself! #HipHopHeals #DivineOrder #HYPEMvmt #DocsGuac  -Brandi “Lotus” Williams (Age 18)

A lot of people look to different gods for forgiveness. People also ask other people for forgiveness, but here’s a question: Have you ever forgiven yourself?  Personal forgiveness plays a role with both anger and depression. We walk around holding grudges and anger for people whom we haven’t forgiven. Or we feel depressed about actions we have done to others that they haven’t forgiven. But I think the key to forgiveness is to first forgive yourself whether in the wrong or not. Also, we must ask God for wisdom and the strength to forgive others. -Nick (Age 20)

Recently we talked about forgiveness, and this touched my heart because I strongly believe in order to move on you have to forgive. If not, it’s like everything that person who wronged you does follows you. Forgiveness unlocks you from that person. In order for you to be at peace mentally, you have to move through the stages of forgiving, which I see as hurt, hate, and healing. Some of us tend to stop at the hurt and forget to heal. Sometimes to forgive, we have to let go of being stereotypical and go with what’s right, because that good will return back to us. I’ve held on to grudges so long and I refuse to hold them anymore. We listened to TI’s “I Still Ain’t Forgave Myself” and I hope that he and others will forgive themselves too. – Kiana J as in KianaJTv (Age 17)

This week with H.Y.P.E. we covered strong emotions such as anger and sadness and the real root of our emotions. We listened to TI’s “Still Ain’t Forgave Myself” and had a deep conversation about releasing those emotions in a positive light. Since this group, I had the greatest change of momentum for my life. I feel like something literally clicked in my head and I’m thinking different. It’s like I’m focused on something. – Jose (Age 19)


Dr. Adia WinfreyDr. Adia Winfrey is an Atlanta, GA based author, psychologist, corporate trainer, and rap lyricist who has been featured on NPR, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and in JET Magazine. She is the author/creator of H.Y.P.E.: Healing Young People thru Empowerment (African-American Images, 2009), which incorporates rap music and lyrics into group therapy sessions for at-risk youth, with emphasis on Black males. Learn more about Dr. Winfrey and H.Y.P.E. at http://www.letsgethype.com