Controversy Corner: Rap’s Getting High On Its Own Supply


Words by Tony Grands

Before cell phones, there were pagers. & before said pagers became popular in the civilian world, they were synonymous with only two career paths. Those paths were doctor & drug dealer.That makes sense, too, because in a lot of ways, those professions are the same, but that’s neither here nor there. In order to be a successful drug dealer (& doctor also), you needed a pager. & to be a successful rapper in those days, you needed to give off the allure, ambiance, aura of a drug dealer.

Drugs & their dealings have always been a staple crop for rap music. Grandmaster Melle Mel tried to warn us about it in the early 80s, but those attempts at positive interjection – as a whole – would soon be gone. Once Schoolly D told Hip Hop that selling drugs was easier than working, it was a (w)rap. Since then, most of your favorite rappers have used a drug selling lifestyle to boost & bolster their image. Whether it was true or not never mattered (until recently), because it sounded cool. Fast forward to today, & public enemy #1 America’s favorite rap fat cat, Rick Ross, is the ultimate embodiment of this caricaturization.

Every song Ross makes (with the exception of his love ballads) feels like peer pressure to join the local drug cartel. He’s loud, abrasive, & boastful like Scarface, which is why I believe he bases his prime time, crime rhyme persona on Tony Montana, even though he probably wouldn’t admit it. (See what I did there?)

Nevertheless, rappers in general have made it a point to showcase that they are involved in the drug world, in some capacity. Those that don’t are tantamount to young-ish Black males in the ‘hood who’ve never been arrested. Looked upon as an oddity, & in some cases, not taken very seriously.

With bragging about pushing (various types of) product now a requisite ripple in the adlibs of Hip Hop culture’s sonic soundtrack, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on task to replace it: what once were drug sellers are now drug users. I’m well aware that the rap community embraces drug intake (see: Snoop, Wiz, Redman, Smoke DZA, & virtually everyone in the game) but as of late, the proportion of selling to using has taken an unforeseen twist. For every song a rapper releases that glorifies the merchandising of drugs, there are – nowadays – 5 more that showcase the life of addiction. Popping pills, sipping God-knows-what, & smoking loud blunts back to back sounds great to a kid who is grasping for ways to cope with his environment. & that’s when his armor’s chink is exposed & exploited, through no legitimate fault of his own. The cycle continues when the next song is about hustlin’ against ALL odds. But, these record labels & paydio stations don’t care about any of that psychobabble, & guess who has to pay that cost… Don’t think for one second that this doesn’t affect the listener(s).

Rap music, in my opinion, has a very hypnotic effect that many don’t seem to notice occurring in themselves. For example, when you play _______ while driving, you inexplicably drive faster. Or when your headphones are blaring ______ during a stroll to the store, coincidentally, extra machismo oozes with every limp-like, slo-mo step you take. Imagine the 14-year-old who has no clue about familial love & structure. Rap music may be his only social learning tool. He learns about life & how to deal with it from the “musicians” he idolizes & that may entail doing the things that said idol may or may not be actually doing. You don’t need me to point out the dangerousness of such a dilemma. Whereas the parents (& legal guardians) of today’s youth might have first come in contact with drugs & alcohol on their own volition, during their curious teen years, the music now is a few clicks (literally, a few clicks of the mouse & *boom*) shy of acting as rolling advertisements for reality-fixing self destruction.

When it comes down to it, rappers are not role models. In fact, I’d advise that you never follow any person who sells fantasies for a living. Especially if they’re really good at it. The bottom line is that the problem isn’t the rappers or their musical content, but rather the environments that foster children whose biggest influences are famous people who advocate formidable life choices.

I, like so many other people, enjoy drug rap & negative entertainment, & far be it from me to suggest that it stops. But perhaps it’s time for this village that we’re supposedly a part of to tighten the communal reigns at “home” – wherever that may be – if nowhere else.

In the meantime, turn on any urban radio station in the morning or afternoon (key commuting hours for parents & children) & count the songs you hear dedicated to taking some sort of drug(s). You might be surprised with the results.

Words by Tony Grands


8 comments on “Controversy Corner: Rap’s Getting High On Its Own Supply

  1. DV says:

    Unfortunately every time i turn on the radio I hear Pitbull and ________ ( i need drugs just to sit through that shit). Therefore i rarely turn on the radio. This post was right on time. I just watched the VH-1 doc “Planet Rock” again last night. I just wonder why does it have to be like this? Why us? I know its social enginnering but still. Speaking of social enginnering watch what happens with this “gun control”. Have you ever wondered why he STILL havent seen any recent picture of the Sandy Hill shooter(s) before he did what he did? And why would you wear a vest if you planned on dying anyway?


    • Tony Grands says:

      Plenty of people still listen to the radio. We’re online, so we could care less what they’re doing aboveground. Meanwhile mainstream music is blaring on the video & radio shows & that’s what people are listening to.


  2. markdub7 says:

    Man…there are so many young cats around Baton Rouge popping pills and sippin syrup b/c of the influence of Boosie. They’ve learned NO-THING from the tragic endings of DJ Screw and Pimp C. There is plenty of blame to go around, but yes…rappers do have influence over so many black children, and should be held accountable just like parents who arent doing enough parenting.


  3. Loki says:

    I think the radio stations and record labels do care about the “psychobabble”, understand it even better then we do and are intentionally distributing this kind of music.


  4. Phlip says:

    I was talking about this to my brother(s) (one blood, one is close enough that I would catch a felony for — shit, our families were together on Christmas when we had this conversation) about how oddly FRIENDLY commercial radio has become to drug use. It used to be that you had to wrap your bragging about drug use in a colorful (and usually witty) metaphor. Nowadays, though? A song in which someone described the process of cooking crack, FIVE songs in which they specifically mention popping Mollies and another that is a thinly veiled (i.e. NOT witty) metaphor for those same pills.
    When I was my younger cousin’s ages, this shit would NEVER be allowed on the radio, yet now it is every damned song!


  5. Reblogged this on The Urban Dilemma and commented:
    This article speaks on the influence of hip-hop on black youth/urban culture and vice-versa. Unfortunately, with the culture being held hostage by an elite and corporate interest choke-hold, the negativity of our culture is flourishing to our detriment and their benefit.


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