“Change is great, platinum shit/Killing this rappin shit/And I’m on Actavis/Actually, I’m harder than All y’all pussy ass niggas/just go and ask ya bitch” – Young Dro – “We In Da City”
President Obama has an uphill battle when it comes to dealing with the nation’s opioid plague, and he knows it.
Last week, The POTUS was in Charleston, West Virginia, where he discussed his views on heroin and other opiates. President Obama also unveiled a new plan to help federal, state, local and private efforts aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.
In 2010, President Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy tried to address the problem, by emphasizing the need to address opioid use disorders and making sure addicts get proper treatment. That didn’t matter to doctors around the country, who wrote 259 million opioid pain medications in 2012.
According to the White House, that’s enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
“In 2013 alone, overdoses from prescription pain medications killed more than 16,000 Americans. One year,” President Barack Obama said. “I don’t have to tell you; this is a terrible toll. The numbers are big, but behind those numbers are incredible pain for families.”
Thousands of community groups, doctors, physical therapists and educators have mobilized to educate themselves and others on opioid abuse, appropriate prescribing practices, and other solutions to stop the abuse of opiates and the over prescribing of opiate based drugs
ABC, CBS, the New York Times, Google, the NBA and the MLB will donate millions of dollars in media space for PSAs about the risks of prescription drug misuse. The spots will be produced by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Sounds like a great plan, but one only has to turn on commercial Hip-Hop radio stations, to understand just how far-reaching the impact of the drugs are.
Rappers like Lil Wayne, School Boy Q, Danny Brown, Future, and Juicy J have all referenced taking opioid based drugs in numerous songs.
In fact, rapper Gucci Mane admitted his lean addiction in a message to his Twitter fans, after years of bizarre behavior and run-ins with the law and even a murder charge.
“I’ve been drinking lean for 10 plus years & I must admit it has destroyed me. I wanna be the first rapper to admit I’m addicted to lean & that shit ain’t no joke,” Gucci Mane tweeted. “I can barely remember all the things I’ve done & said. However there’s no excuse. I’m currently incarcerated but I will be going to rehab because I need help.”
Whether it’s popping a few footballs (percs) dropping some OC (Oxycontin) or sipping on some syrup (codeine and promethazine), the rise of opioids has also made its way into Hip-Hop culture.
For instance, the #1 in the country at the moment is The Weeknd’s “The Hills” which is all about doing drugs and avoiding rehab. The Weeknd also has the #4 spot with “Can’t Feel My Face,” another song (which hit #1) about drugs (cocaine).
“With ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ taking addiction to the top of the Hot 100, the question that remains is, how far can this trend go? Songs like the Weeknd’s breakout hit keep the subject matter hidden just enough, but that subtlety may disappear over time,” predicted writer Jason Lipshutz in an article posted on Billboard.com.
“Soon, the metaphors and euphemisms in songs like “Can’t Feel My Face” could lead to more direct accounts of drug use appearing on your favorite radio station,” Lipshutz said.
While some glamorize the drug and make it fashionable by posting themselves smashed on their social media accounts, there has been serious consequences for rappers over the years.
Houston’s DJ Screw never lived to see the global popularity of the “Chopped & Screwed” genre of music he created because he overdosed in his studio in 2000, the same year Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ on Some Syrup” was a hit single.
More recently rappers like Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Mac Miller and Macklemore had their careers sidelined as they struggled with their addiction to opioid-based drugs.
Thankfully, the rappers above made it out alive.
The same cannot be said for several other artists. Opioid based drugs have claimed the lives of revered Hip-Hop figures like Big Moe, Pimp C and A$ap Yams.
Check out the rise of mentions of opioids and Hip-Hop since 1990 (courtesy of Genius.com).