As of late, it seems the trap genre of hip-hop music is steadily rising with millennials from every culture delving into the sounds.  Artist like Lil Uzi Vert, Migos, Travis Scott and more lending the face of what’s considered hot in our generation, the drug usage within their lyrics has been a constant. Now everyone has their individual ways of enjoying themselves, or on the other end of the spectrum, cope with harsh issues; but in rap music, those methods usually involve a “Good substance..” as Future would call it.  From the one who has an opinion, most people are the music they listen to and when your favorite artists are all sipping dirty or popping xanax, it might peak the human curiosity to try one, the other, or a few.

In The Weeknd’s Party Monster track, the first bar declares, …Now I’m mixing up the drank, not even ten seconds into the song he mentions drinking lean. To be fair in this equation however, most rappers or artists in general are either speaking about past experiences or stories traded amongst their inner circles. Lil Uzi’s Money Longer conveys, Take xans till I stumble, full bars now I punt em…”, while the real use for xanax is to control anxiety and panic disorders, his usage of the substance was somewhat glorified via song. But although the weak minded can be swayed based on their favorite rappers acceptance of a preferred drug, I still believe music is a form of entertainment – if you will; the same way you can watch a movie featuring your favorite actor at the theater deal with some extensive drug habits, I suppose a musician can express their personal view on the topic as well.  The only difference, most times, the stories being spat out of the mouths of the rapper stems from a real place, not some made up script for TV.  Rappers are made to be great and later survive off of their realness, and we know that because as soon as we find out that Drake for instance didn’t write all his own rhymes, he loses his credibility.  

Where I was raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, you can discover most of the content spoken about in these same songs. Going home on public transportation, anyone can find a dealer on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, not to mention the addicts who consume them. During my childhood, I’ve seen the same groups of guys hang around the same corner stores for the entire day. After getting older and frequenting the these stores, you witness the transactions that take place that you were once blind to as a child. My parents, in their wisdom, told me not to be a follower of every trend, but to instead research and identify the pros and cons of every situation. In reference to the trap culture, we have all heard the phrase posed as a question meant to undermine the follower that may reside inside, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”

If we are to really analyze the drug usage with Hip-Hop culture, at the end of the day these are still the very real aspects of the artist lives presented over 3-minute, 4-minute long songs, experienced either first hand or secondly. Words used to provide an escape of condemning realities as young hip-hop heads are pigeonholed by it everyday.  Rapper Chief Keef has a multitude of tracks that discusses the drug usage and violence in Chicago, but now he currently lives in a California mansion. It’s a fine line, because not everyone consuming the music as a way to express their existence is going to get to that mansion status.  Especially the guy on the corner who can totally relate to Keef’s words, and although his personal drug usage may strip him of his destined place of greatness to latter positions dealing in sometimes downward spirals, he clings to those words anyway, it’s hard to break away.

Where do we draw the line?

David Watson

{photo via Tumblr}