The danger of drug abuse references in music


Photo credit: Sydne Vigille

Rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, Future, and Lil Wayne have all spoken about the usage of various drugs such as  MDMA (ecstasy/molly), percocets, and codeine laced cough syrup commonly known as “lean”in their music.  Sadly, many of these drug mentions seem as if they’re glorifying drug abuse instead of denouncing it.

Rapper Lil Peep was found dead in his tour bus on Nov. 15 after overdosing on Xanax, according to The New York Times. This has raised the question, should the references of drug abuse be taken more seriously in music?

In Lil Uzi Vert’s chart topping hit, “XO TOUR Llife3”, he clearly states his dependence on Xanax, and describing its pain-relieving properties.

“Xanny numb the pain yeah, please, xanny make it go away. I’m committed, not addicted, but it keep controlling me. All that pain now I can’t feel it, I swear that it’s slowing me,” rapped Lil Uzi Vert.

Many listeners may perceive similar lyrics about recreational drug use as entertainment without considering the deeper meaning behind them; however, is it possible that hearing repetitive messages mention drug abuse can influence people’s viewpoints on the dangers of narcotics?

FAMU Student Health Services faculty member, Randy Henley, believes that the drug references in music are problematic.

“If you hear ‘Molly and Percocet’ all day long from one of your favorite artists, and everyone is dancing and talking about doing those drugs, it becomes more socially acceptable.” said Henley.

The repeated mention of drugs in music can can cause listeners to have a glamorized view of these narcotics instead of paying attention to their negative effects.

Some use drugs as an escape from reality; however, this escape is only temporary. A majority of drugs can cause many mental, emotional, and physical repercussions to the user that may lead to addiction and death.

Ashley Ingram, a second semester nursing student, believes that music has a big influence on students, especially those in middle and high school.

“A lot of these celebrities promote stuff that they don’t even do themselves, but they do what sells,” Ingram stated.

“Music definitely glorifies drugs. If they didn’t talk about drugs so much in music, I wouldn’t know about the common drugs like Xanax, Percocet, Molly and Coke.”

Although many rap and hip-hop lyrics seem to portray drugs as a care-free activity, findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and the number of opioids described per person was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin and prescription pain relievers including oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine. It is very easy to get addicted to these drugs because the majority are over the counter.

President Donald Trump recently declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.  CNN reported that President Trump describes the epidemic as “The worst drug crisis in American history”.

Lil Peep is not the first drug overdose death for a celebrity in the Hip-Hop community.  On December 4, 2007, Rapper Pimp C from the Hip- Hop Duo Underground Kingz (UGK) was found dead in his Los Angeles hotel, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The autopsy showed that high amounts of cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine as well as other drugs in his system were the cause of death. He was 33 years old.

Rapper Lil Wayne has also been known to abuse drugs, specifically codeine.

“Swimmin' laps around a bottle of Louis the XIII, jumpin’ off of a mountain into a sea of codeine,” said Lil Wayne in his track “I Feel Like Dying”.

He suffered from multiple seizures in March of 2013 and September of 2017 according to TMZ reports. In a 2009 VH1 Behind the Music documentary, Wayne addressed his dependency on the drug.

“Why in the hell should I stop drinking whatever is in my cup? I think people need to mind their own business, I don’t care if there is heroin in my cup. It’s my cup.“

Sadly, the abuse of these prescription drugs affect young college-aged adults the most. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the age group 18-25 are the biggest abusers and there has been a 75% increase since the year 1999.