By Josh Whitener, an Urban Music Reporter for Veer Magazine and Editorial Assistant for Hometown News Brevard. He also provides promotional web content for ItsJustArchie.com. “Painkillers: The Epidemic EP” will be available 4/20/2020 for purchase or download on all streaming platforms and at www.itsjustarchie.com.
When Archie began his musical career in earnest, he intentionally decided that every rhyme and lyric would be personal. His songs are a tapestry of various personal experiences he’s had for over the last thirty-five years and has always been an advocate for social change. “Painkillers”, Archie Boone and A-Rock DaSupa ’s latest EP, features four tracks that give voice to addiction.
“It started with trying to understand how we got into this epidemic; what is it and where is it coming from?” Archie said. “I was trying to digest this stuff and make it relatable.”
As a program coordinator for Norfolk Community Service Board, Archie has spent the last two years advocating for substance abuse awareness. In his opinion, the opiate crisis addiction has extended beyond the neighborhood he grew up in and has found its way to suburban America.
All the lyrics for his EP “Painkillers” were written within this year. The writing process came naturally, as Archie drew inspiration from Hampton Roads residents he’s interacted with being treatment for addiction.
“Demetrous Bowe, at the time, was six-months clean of heroin. He was clean because he was in prison, got clean, came out and he’s living, he’s charting his course,” Archie said. “Hearing their stories and knowing that there’s a life after their addiction, moving into their recovery – I had to find a way to speak to these guys and now we’re not playing with this stuff.”
Archie is a training facilitator for REVIVE!, Virginia’s Opioid Naloxone Education.
“I see a lot of people from drug court, people who are mandated. In hearing their stories and knowing that they have life in their recovery after addiction and trying to move on, I felt I had to find a way to speak to them,” Archie said. “People like Demetrous and what he’s going through? This album soundtracks the emotion and the feeling.”
The four tracks on “Painkillers” each provide a voice to otherwise silent addicts. Archie is a historian, chronicling the beginning of pharmaceutical companies prescribing highly addictive narcotics for pain.
Whiteface is on addiction/but did you feel the same way when we were the victim?
“I put a lot of blame and pressure on pharmaceutical companies; people who are in denial or families who ask, ‘How did Susie die, she was such a good girl’,” Archie said. “Open your damn eyes, I’m about to tell you how it happened.”
“Painkillers is the rallying cry for Archie and A-Rock; an EP with a purpose and a goal.
Boone has had issues with addiction. In his younger days, his wrestle with self-control led to a new outlook on life. He became more spiritual, he advocated for neighborhood improvement and more drug awareness. Although there is a scope to addiction, at its core it can affect everyone similarly. This is the overall issue “Painkillers” addresses.
“I can’t compare addiction to alcohol or marijuana to opioids. To me, that’s my extent, it doesn’t get any deeper than that,” Archie said. “I’m taking a public health standpoint on it. I’m not trying to belittle my experience, but I can say that this is where it can start. People don’t go from zero to heroin.”
Archie once again teamed up with longtime friend and producer, A-Rock Dasupa, for collaboration on the EP. The studio process was expedient considering all four tracks originally featured entirely different sounds.
“This is overnight stuff and it’s the same thing with A-Rock,” Archie said. “He makes the beat, he sent it to me, that beat is his outlet – his emotions, what he’s gone through. He had to bring my voice into something he already created, so it’s harmonic.”
Once again at the helm of the instrumentals and beats, A-Rock became the musical chemist who infused life into every track.
“The first [beat of “Beautiful Morning] was dope, but I thought it was kind of boring.” A-Rock said. “It was too repetitious. I wanted to make it sound more like 90’s hip-hop.”
Harmoniously, each track lays the foundation for the next. Originally only a three track EP, A-Rock and Archie’s dynamic encouraged the fourth song. With a mixture of professional training and personal empathy towards drug abuse, Archie’s lyrics connect more profoundly with his audience.
“[Archie] told me he might be doing this drug abuse program, so that’s how it came to me. I knew he’d been pushing it with the City and with social media. So, I knew something was coming,” A-Rock said.
“Wonderful Morning” documents historical moments that deal with addiction throughout the ages. To Archie, “Painkillers”, is long overdue wake-up call.
“It’s political. It’s personal. I’m talking about congressman and senators and their role. I’m talking about different social classes and their response, like denial,” Archie said.
Educating both communities became a priority in his writing. Archie saw a nondiscriminatory crisis in not just the geographical pockets of Norfolk, but everywhere. In exposing people to the dangers of narcotic dependence, Archie felt he needed to balance the message with his audience.
“I know it’s frustrating to think, when it was us with the crack epidemic, that people got locked up and criminalized, but what I’m saying to them now is we have to get past it affecting white males and females,” Archie said. “They don’t know that abusing the painkillers will lead to heroin.”
With their hopeful lyrics and proactive message, Just Archie and A-Rock deliver an EP that demands a reaction. Just Archie uses his influence as an artist to provide a platform for others’ stories to be told.
“Instead of having my voice or my experiences, I wanted to be a voice for these situations so people could better understand,” Archie said.
On September 7, 2018, 26-year-old hip-hop artist Mac Miller died of an overdose. A blunt wake up call to the harsh reality Archie and A-Rock bring light to with this EP. Just Archie and A-Rock’s production company, On Top of the Mountain Music Group released the music video for “Wonderful Morning” as a tribute to the rapper that night. The video features many close family members in Just Archie’s inner circle, including his daughter Shai.