Truth be told, lyrics that encourage drug use and abuse have ruled the world of hip hop for decades. Over the past several years, however, there’s been an alarming increase in lyrics sensationalizing drug use. Considering the increase in drug use among youth, it makes sense why critics, like Roc Nation artist, Vic Mensa, are calling some rappers out.
In a recent interview with Billboard, Mensa spoke up about substance abuse when asked whom he believes should be held accountable. The Chi-town native first questioned why doctors and the manufacturers of such drugs aren’t being blamed or accepting responsibility.
“They are making the murder weapon, and there’s no way I can propose that this is the most effective, logical treatment for these mental illnesses.”
According to the New York Times, the current opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Overdoses, fueled by opioids, are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old. Killing roughly 64,000 people last year, more than guns or car accidents, and doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic did at its peak.
But these startling statistics still haven’t caused some rappers to pump the breaks on pill-poppin lyrics. Just a few weeks ago, one of the most famous rap groups in the world, The Migos, dropped a song titled “Motorsport,” featuring Hip hop’s top women Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. The song includes the following chorus;
Xans, Perky, check (yeah), Bill Belichick
Take the air out the ball (yeah), just so I can flex
Translation? As sure as Bill Belichick (head coach of the New England Patriots) ranks first among head coaches in the NFL, I Got my Xanax and Percocets with me.
The recent death of budding rap star, Lil Peep has, however, sparked conversations about drug abuse and mental health in hip hop. The 21-year-old rapper died earlier this month from a suspected overdose of fentanyl-laced drugs.
“To be honest, it’s like, on one hand I almost don’t even feel that I have a right to chastise anybody because I’ve fucking done it… I regret it. I don’t rap about it anymore, but I have some lines about taking Xanax,” Mensa admitted.
During the interview, Mensa also takes responsibility for glorifying the drug epidemic in his own lyrics, and goes on to admit he regrets ever referencing prescription drugs in his music.
“I just think that we’re in such a dangerous place now because it’s been normalized and the drug abuse has been reduced to like a marketing tactic. You got Future talking about, ‘I just rap about drugs because I know that’s what sells, that’s what people want to hear.’ While people are overdosing left and right,”Mensa said. “It’s really representative of the state of the nation, but it’s also horribly irresponsible because you got kids that idolize these people and will do anything they do. They’re being misled but their fucking heroes and getting addicted to Xans or Percocets and dying from them. So, it’s pretty fucked.”
Mensa is right: so much of the shit we bop to is wrong.