‘It’s a war zone’: why is a generation of rappers dying young? Hip-hop

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The rapid rise of drug references laid waste to Ice-T’s message of abstinence, as Jay Z, the Notorious B.I.G., and Snoop Dogg dropped albums with first-hand accounts of the 1980s crack epidemic. Their experiences selling drugs (and smoking them) translated into platinum-selling records, fueling a generation of rappers intent on telling the story of the hustler. By 1998, cocaine had overtaken marijuana as rap’s rappers on drugs most talked-about drug. This trend persisted through the early 2000s with Jay Z, Raekwon, and the Clipse—all of whom kept the hustler-rapper Mafioso persona at the forefront of hip-hop culture. Among the 38 most popular rap songs from 1979 to 1984, about 11 percent contained drug mentions. Nineteen percent of songs in the late 1980s that were included in the study made references to substance abuse.

The original iteration of the group, featuring singer Kim Hill, had a much more soul-filled sound. Marshall Mathers is abbreviated to MM, then M&M, then Eminem, and boom — an unforgettable rap name. The Detroit rapper did a commercial with M&Ms in 2012, but funny enough doesn’t have a lyric where he talks about M&Ms in his catalog. The NYC female spitters along with DJ Spinderella got the name “Salt-N-Pepa” after they rapped, “Right now I’m gonna show you how it’s supposed to be / ‘Cause we, the salt and pepper MCs,” on their first track, which became a local radio hit.

Third man charged in fatal shooting of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay

From producing as a part of the hip hop group Random Axe with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson to lacing Detroit alt-rap icon Danny Brown with a full album of heaters, Black Milk has shown he can fit into multiple pockets. Cube would go on to release 10 more solo albums and unleash his biting lyrics for over three decades. Frozen water that’ll make any drink colder seems exactly like the name to best describe this legendary Southern California MC.

  • But as we all know by now, most of these claims fall into the “it’s only entertainment” category.
  • Although he spent time there and admitted that it was great for him, the rapper stated, “I was ordered to go by the court, so it didn’t stop me.” Mane had a rough childhood and had struggled with drug addiction for some time.
  • Scott also has gone on to say that the messages that he relays in his songs about drugs are almost entirely fantasy.
  • The ’90s gave us some of the best hip hop and R&B records to hit our speakers, ushering in a strong class of sensual, edgy and ingenious girl groups that dominated the iconic era.

Within weeks, their Tuesday social ride grew by the hundreds and changed the culture in the city of New Orleans. Through their partnership with YEP, the initiative also teaches kids how to build and repair bikes to offer them an opportunity to stay out of the streets and learn a new skill. “A low-level class C misdemeanor only provides 30 days in jail as an alternative. This is nowhere near the amount of time needed to address addiction,” the state representative Kevin Mannix said in a statement.

Marijuana and Rap Artists

Since molly’s fading popularity and the increase in codeine mentions, other over-the-counter and prescription drugs have crept into hip-hop’s woozy landscape. Rap’s obsession with Xanax began in 2011 when Tyler, The Creator mentioned the pill on “Yonkers.” Since then, Young Thug, Future, and 2 Chainz have all mentioned Xanax in their music. Although Wayne popularized lean in the late 2000s, Houston group the Botany Boys were some of the first MCs to mention lean on wax. Their 1995 record, Smokin’ N’ Leanin’, is littered with references to syrup, some 20 years before Atlanta’s Future released Dirty Sprite 2—an ode to the drug he denies being addicted to. While cocaine dominated the first half of the 2000s, another trend was brewing.

rappers on drugs

A shifting attitude toward addiction and mental illness has taken place among the rap community. From Macklemore speaking with Obama about opioid abuse to Logic releasing a song about suicide awareness, more rappers today are bringing these subjects to the forefront. For years, rap music has glorified substance use, portraying getting high as an activity with little consequence. Although this trend continues, more rappers today are using their platforms to spread awareness for addiction and mental illness.

Xanax: the drug that defined the decade and changed rap

Despite this, African-Americans, who account for the majority of mainstream rap artists, largely do not seek treatment. This may be due to socio-economic factors or distrust of the U.S. health care system. As a result, many black rappers are not getting the help they need. Before his death from a suspected overdose in 2017, Lil Peep talked about his depression in an interview with Pitchfork.

  • “At first, there’s a mellowing high,” said Stevie Jones, 23, also known as Prophet J, an independent rapper in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • “The younger kids don’t do stuff as much, because they see all the shit that happened in the last few years.” For those who do still indulge, drug-testing kits are becoming common.
  • Chicago’s Lil Reese, to our knowledge, does not have a name that intentionally has affiliation with the Reese’s Cup.
  • Word has it that Ice Cold hasn’t touched a mind-altering substance for nearly two decades.

The following list highlights how the hip-hop community, like all, is not immune to the deadly influences of the drug culture. Eminem is one of the most prominent rappers around and has been open about his time in rehab. His drug addiction began in 2002 when he started taking pills for his insomnia. For the next few years, the rapper struggled with addiction to prescription drugs, including Vicodin, Ambien, and Valium. In 2005, Eminem went to rehab and successfully achieved sobriety after spending time there. Eminem has spoken candidly about his past struggles with substance use.

‘It’s a war zone’: why is a generation of rappers dying young?

Since September, the committee has held multiple hearings and heard testimony from law enforcement and substance use disorder experts on the law’s accomplishments and shortcomings. Jam Master Jay, real name Jason Mizell, was shot dead in his own recording studio in 2002, and until now, no-one had been charged over the crime. The group did an anti-drug public service announcement and shows, called for a day of peace between warring Los Angeles gangs, established scholarships and held voter-registration drives at concerts. The two rappers ratcheted up hostilities with a pair of blustery, acid-dipped singles, each aiming to hit the other where it hurts.

  • Xanax is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
  • “I had an experience with alcohol that made me paranoid because of it and I stayed away from it,” 50 told Piers Morgan.
  • The following list highlights how the hip-hop community, like all, is not immune to the deadly influences of the drug culture.
  • However, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and other rappers who have glamorized marijuana use often fail to mention its consequences.
  • The rapper and YouTube star said that he moved to California to distance himself from the people and places that led to his mental illness.

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