Hip Hop's View: Mental Health & Drug Abuse
Not too long ago, thousands of music fans and musicians mourned the loss of up-and-coming artist “Lil Peep”. Tragedies like this are far too common in the industry, which brought many rap artists and fans back to the “too little, too late” feeling. The attitude centered around rampant depression and substance abuse is one that the industry still finds a way to downplay and sweep it under the rug.
Drug use and mental issues have long haunted hip hop artists, the irony being, that it has also been the cause of some of its best work. For a long time now, the topics focused on in hip hop have been pretty much intertwined. Whether talking about the hustle, the struggle, money, women... artists have always used their niche to shine light on key elements of the hip hop world, while keeping their fanbase happy. In doing so though, these artists have also created a facade that does not fully depict how some of these elements affect daily lives.
One of the biggest and most talked about topics on in hip hop culture is drug use. As yall know, many rappers discuss their drug life in ALL their music. In a trend dating back to the 1990’s, Dr. Dre named his solo album “The Chronic” which set off an unprecedented amount of drug references in hip hop songs. It was even reported that the percentage of rap songs with drug references increased from just four tracks in the early 1980s to 45 percent of ALL hip-hop tracks by the mid 90s.
It is no secret that hip hop has become linked to the glamorization of drug dealing, as many artists have become accustomed to dropping drug references and their roles in the drug game, even long after the peak of “Gangsta Rap” in the mid 00’s. In today's realm, popular hip-hop artists have now flipped the roles, as a big bulk of rap music has become more about the consumption and addiction of drugs, rather than selling it.
Artists like Future, Young Thug, and Wiz Khalifa, etc. created a hip-hop environment where many artists almost feel pressured to rap about drug consumption to adapt to the new style of lyrics. So much so, that its hard to even pick a song out that doesn't have the word "Perc, Lean, or Xan" in it. This illusion of this drug world has not only caused alot of controversy, but it has also steered many artists to the point of no return. Some of hip-hop’s most influential artists have passed away off of drug addiction as they continued to lyrically keep it in their songs. ODB, Pimp C, DJ Screw, Chris Kelly, A$AP Yams, the list goes on.. and with the recent passing of Lil Peep, it is safe to say that this facade is one that needs to be combated.
Just yesterday, Lil Pump, a rapper known for his drug use, dropped a video on instagram saying "btw I don’t take xanz no more f*** Xanax 2018". As refreshing as it is to see, hip hop still has a long way to go with denouncing the fad of the life they rap about. As we approach this new year, we're hopeful that more artists will begin to come out and talk about the truth about depression and coping in hopes of saving some lives.