The concept of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” has saturated the music industry since it’s start. What starts as experimentation oftentimes evolves into a serious issue with devastating consequences. A major shift in the music industry has contributed to a massive promotion of substance abuse, to the point that it leans towards making it acceptable to live in active addiction. The drug use is actually viewed as an asset or a marketing tool, which almost makes it mandatory to merge it into the lyrical content. As stated in several media outlets, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Earlier this year, a few Hip Hop artists denounced the use of Xanax in social media. However, it is the same social media platform used by the artist to glorify the drug use to the point, that cakes shaped like prescription pills have been showcased, as a celebration for hitting 1 million followers. Some people will refer to the denouncement as a win for the Hip Hop culture, but at the same time, damage has been done.
According to the CDC, the opioid crisis in the US has averaged 177 overdose related deaths on a daily basis. One Hundred and Seventy Seven people dying every day. Let that sink in.
To some, it may seem harmless to hear one artist sing about Molly and Percoset, and another one bragging about how much Lean (Codeine Cough Syrup with Sprite) he’s consuming, it sends a dangerous message. It is almost shameful to see artists with such reach to promote that type of self-destructive behavior towards an audience that idolizes them.
Unlike the past artists who made up personas and sang about fictional criminal activities, this new generation of artists are actually glorifying a lifestyle that they are actually living.
What we’re seeing now is a mixture of self-medication, partying, and following whatever is perceived to be cool. Hip hop is fascinated with prescription drugs because everybody else is. And according to studies, Gen Z is “profoundly anxious.” And until that changes, hip hop’s drug problems will persist.
Following the tragic death of Lil Peep from an accidental overdose, several rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp have made public vows to stay off Xanax and lean. Peep’s passing was a major wakeup call for some artists, who little by little, will probably get together to start an anti drug movement, just like the Rock Against Drug movement in the 80’s.