The Evolution of Drugs in Hip-Hop

The Evolution of Drugs in Hip-Hop

From 'White Lines' to Molly,Shaka Shaw reflects on the history of drug culture in rap music

by Shaka Shaw, September 11, 2013

The Evolution of Drugs in Hip-Hop

Capsules of the street drug "molly" 

codeine.  Companies have even gone so far as to capitalize off of this dangerous trend (namely the beverage "Drank"), creating legal anti-energy drinks and marketing them in a way that appeals to a young hip-hop audience.

"Molly" (short for molecule) is currently the hot-button issue when it comes to drugs in hip hop, with rappers like Trinidad James popularizing lines like "Popped a Molly, I'm sweatin' (W000)" in the party-time jingle "All Gold Everything".  Even more notably, Rick Ross came under heavy fire for insinuating drugging and date rape using the drug during his contribution to the song "U.O.E.N.O.", sparking the ire of many individuals and groups protesting his flippant reference and paper-thin apology some days later when faced with loss of endorsements. While the most poignant issue in this case was clearly making light of date rape in music, the underlying issue is figuring out how far mainstream rap is going to go with promoting drug use and specifically drugs many don't actually know enough about.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is the drug component found in ecstasy, though Molly is the street name for when it is (supposedly) found in its purest form, crystallized or powdered.  Ecstasy is known for being "cut" with other elements like caffeine or methamphetamine when pressed into pill form.  The assumed purity is largely based on Molly's strength in comparison to ecstasy, although actual purity and source of the drug is impossible to determine by the casual user.

While we'll never get musicians and especially rappers to be responsible for promotion of illicit behavior, it's important that people who decide to take part in the drugs being promoted these days understand the risks, which aren't often rapped about.  The list of negative aftereffects and overdose reactions read uglier than Dick Tracy's rogue's gallery, with hemorrhage, renal failure, coma and death being very real possibilities, among many others.  

Unfortunately, we're in an age where, songs like, "Hey Young World," are a thing of the past because on the surface, straits don't look as dire as they did during the crack era. Today's youth seem more obsessed with party anthems and actual substances than they are with substance in music.  Will there ever be another "White Lines"?  As impressionable kids suffer, ill-equipped to handle the influences that drug-promoting in rap may have on them, hip hop seems more ripe for one than ever.  

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