A rundown of the rap world's favorite drugs
Drug culture isn't relegated exclusively to rock, obviously. For its part, the rap game is equally loaded with drug references of all kinds, from Promethazine and DMT to LSD and PCP, and likewise addled with its own cautionary tales and fatalities. While there's nothing as concrete to suggest that drugs are integral to making rap music, if nothing else, they have certainly served as one of the many muses. Keep reading for a compendium of drugs and rap and a rundown of where the two converge.
Lean (aka sizzurp, purple drank, Texas Tea)
Lean is more than just an activity; it's a way of life, a way to view the world. So it's not surprising that the subgenre that was born from its use was a radically different way to approach music making. Houston's DJ Screw invented chopping and screwing -- slowing and chopping sequences of music while repeating some parts -- as a way to capture the slowed-down essence of the Dirty South. The practice of drinking lean spread throughout the country in 2000, when Three 6 Mafia released the hit single "Sippin' on Some Syrup." Its danger was revealed when DJ Screw died from mixing alcohol and lean just months later. Pimp C and Big Moe, a DJ Screw protege, also died from the drug. Recently, the drug has become fashionable again with rappers like Lil' Wayne, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz and Drake writing about lean or being photographed with telling Styrofoam cups in their hands.
Cocaine (aka white girl, bird, blow, snow, yayo)
Rap's relationship throughout the '90s with cocaine was probably closer tied to its sale than its use, and while selling drugs is still a fashionable topic in rap, usage is probably more prevalent as subject matter today. Andre Nickatina was one of the first rappers to bring massive cocaine use to the mainstream with his song "Ayo for Yayo." Other modern rappers especially love to reference the drug as a glamorous, high-class status symbol. Cocaine has been referenced by countless MCs in positive and negative lights with regard to recreation and business.
MDMA (aka ecstasy, E, molly, X, thizz)
MDMA, the ultimate club drug, has found a growing audience in the rap world. But the drug permeated rap culture far earlier, around the turn of the century, with references made by Eminem in "Drug Ballad," Mac Dre in "Thizzelle Dance," Missy Elliott in "X-tasy" and 50 Cent on "In Da Club." No rapper better captures the high-energy, free-love spirit of ecstasy better than Danny Brown on tracks like "Molly Ringwald," "Piss Test" and "Blueberry." Even Jay-Z (who says he's never done the drug) mentioned in "Empire State of Mind" that the ecstasy would have you feeling like a champion.