When did being a fiend for pharmaceutical drugs become so perversely prevalent in Hip Hop?
It seems like every other song on popular radio makes mention of the joys of highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet and synthetic (but no less dangerous) drugs like MDMA aka Molly. Now, let’s be clear and acknowledge there has always seemed to be an embrace of substance use in Hip Hop. There is no denying that weed and alcohol has always been staples of Hip Hop music and commonplace within the Hip Hop community. But it seems like things are taking a severe turn for the worse in contemporary Hip Hop.
I want to be careful and avoid presenting my concerns like there is a generational divide and only younger Hip Hop heads (Seedz) promote this seriously dangerous behavior. To do so would be misleading and insincere. And I am not trying to make light of the social dangers caused by alcoholism. But this new element of being okay with these kinds of mind altering substances is a totally different monster.
Percocet is a highly addictive narcotic prescribed to manage severe pain. It contains oxycodone which if used in high doses can lead to respiratory distress and even death, particularly when used with alcohol. Oxycodone is an opioid, in the same family as heroin. Basically, medically prescribed heroin. Mollie and Ecstasy are synthetic drugs that makes a person prone to experiencing hallucinations and other psychological complications. These are other substances that if combined with alcohol could lead to severe medical distress.
So, the question is asked again; when did the use of these sort of substances become so acceptable. I had this conversation with a couple of colleagues and one traced the origins of this embrace to the Houston, TX based "Chopped and Screwed" movement of the early ‘90’s (a cross section between the Rootz and Treez eras). Chopped and screwed music became synonymous with the indulgence of “Lean” of “Syrup.” For the uninitiated, “lean/syrup” is a toxic and addictive mixture of prescription strength, codeine based cough syrup and soda. Codeine is also a narcotic that can lead to death when mixed with other mind altering substances. Even though there is a lot of validity to this assertion, I can’t say for sure this was the origin.
What I do know, however, if we the Hip Hop community to not take a stand and hold these artists accountable to the type of degradation they are promoting it will lead to the destruction of Hip Hop. Think about Future’s "Mask Off". A very catchy song but what’s disturbing is the first lyrics of this song pays some sought of blasphemous homage to pharmaceutical and synthetic drugs. Even more disturbing is the song that Mask Off was sampled from was Charlton William’s "Prison Song". The entire premise of William’s song was to be wary and aware of evil social elements leading to the decimation of the Black community. The song is found on the “Selma” album: A Musical Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. How does a song that pays tribute to a global icon like Dr. King became bastardized with the promotion Mollie and Percocet? Hip Hop, please be aware that there are elements in the world that want to destroy our culture. Unfortunately, it’s some of our own shepherding this poisonous behavior as if there will be no ramifications. To those artists, like Future, I say get your money Bro; it’s on you. But not at the cost of Hip Hop.