What Pill-Popping In Hip-Hop Means For Mental Health

Flip through rap radio in the last couple years, and patterns emerge. Between the bars of Future’s viral hit “Mask Off” — “Percocets / Molly, Percocets” — there might be Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” describing suicidal thoughts, the title of the song itself the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llf3” details Xanax addiction and being pushed “to the edge” where he might “blow my brain out.” XXXTentacion raps about suicidal thoughts and simulated his own hanging in a recent video, as did rapper Father in his clip for “Suicide Party.” Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kevin Gates also have tracks dealing with narcotics abuse and the emotional woes caused by their indulgences.

Drug use and self-harm are hot topics in popular rap songs by chart-topping artists, and their simultaneous emergence is no coincidence, with each topic bearing a long history in a genre that’s typically dominated by black men.

“Self-medication is the name of the game in the culture of young black men in hip-hop,” Vic Mensa told BuzzFeed News in September. The Chicago emcee fought his way back from drug addiction after a season of depression and suicidal thoughts — which were brought on by prolonged use of pills among other substances. He raps about it in “There’s a Lot Going On.”

youtube.com

Kid Cudi wrote a letter to his fans in 2016 describing his own mental health issues and why they led him to rehab. “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” Cudi wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”

Joe Budden has been open about his addictive personality, and struggles with drug abuse on top of his own mood disorder. “As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more,” he said during Complex’s Everyday Struggle, an online show that he cohosts. “We’re so powerful as a culture … we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of these rappers are telling us what they’re going through and I try to listen for it.”

“As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more.”

From heroin and cocaine in jazz and R&B, to acid in funk, to marijuana and Ecstasy in hip-hop, narcotics have been a not-so-silent partner to the sound and the subjects in black music. In contemporary popular hip-hop, however, popping prescription pills like Xanax, Oxycontin, benzodiazepines, and MDMA along with lean — a mixture of soda and Actavis syrup (if you can find it) — have become a badge of honor in contemporary hip-hop as well as on mainstream radio. Songs like these highlight the connection between music, artists, and fans and how each reflects the other.

Hand in hand with the pill name-drops are health conditions — addiction, depression, chronic pain — that some prescription drugs are actually engineered to treat. The pill rap wave dovetails with the growing heroin epidemic on top of suicide becoming the number two cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hip-hop has moved from selling drugs to using drugs as a point of pride, and that arc tracks with amplified numbers of suicide and mental health concerns among hip-hop’s target audience. The tandem rise isn’t a quirky coincidence: It’s a serious cause for concern, if not only for the performers but also for fans. Hip-hop has more than a minor ailment — the culture’s got an addiction and it’s driving us mad.

Vic Mensa, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi.

Rich Polk, Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Drinking, smoking weed, and selling cocaine became staples in hip-hop — lyrically, and in practice — beginning in the mid-1990s, epitomized in albums like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. Tales of South American suppliers, coke bricks, and depictions of grimy dealers in the trap — a colloquialism for a drug and/or stash house — pumped from speakers in songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rappers like Ja Rule and 50 Cent moved on to include Ecstasy as a party drug in their lyrics, though the inclusion of pills rarely budged beyond that.

The affordable low-risk high of lean made the drink a drug of choice with Texas artists like DJ Screw, a pioneer of the “chopped and screwed” style that fit nicely with the beverage’s propensity for slowing down the world. Lean — aka “dirty Sprite,” “drank,” “syrup,” “sizzurp,” “purp,” and “barre” — started making its way into rhymes down South, evidenced by hits like Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin on Some Sizzurp” and Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK in 2000 (the same year Screw died from codeine-related conditions). Lean’s popularity in the black music community began long before the age of hip-hop, as retired University of Texas Health Science Center professor Ronald Peters told Noisey: In the 1950s, Houston blues musicians mixed cough syrup with beer and wine coolers to get the high of Benadryl today without garnering police attention.

But all along the way in hip-hop’s history, there’s been the counternarrative about drugs, prescription or not. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five told a cautionary tale about rap and drugs in 1984 with “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” and in 1988 and Public Enemy’s followed up with “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Cash Money Records founder Birdman’s (formerly Baby) regional 1993 track “I Need a Bag of Dope” with the 32 Golds celebrated his love for snorting heroin but then getting sick if he couldn’t score: “I started snortin’ and scratchin’ and throwing up.”

youtube.com

Southern hip-hop’s rise arguably crystallized in the national popularity of Baby’s protégé Lil Wayne around the release of 2004’s “Go D.J.” Along with his gravelly delivery, the rapper brought a lean-filled cup and a penchant for the rockstar lifestyle; as Wayne recorded his 2008 album Tha Carter III, that cup became a mainstay in his interviews. The unauthorized documentary The Carter revealed his escalating narcotic dependence and the havoc it caused. Musically, while other rappers rhymed about indulging in weed and Ecstasy and privately snorted cocaine, this film shows Wayne giddily mixing lean as his manager exasperatingly dealt with his artist in the grip of addiction.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne cuts like “Me and My Drank” and “Viva La White Girl” blatantly described the New Orleans MC’s predilections — and it sounded great, unfortunately. Wayne also spoke to his lean dependency during an interview with MTV News in 2008, saying, “Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy. … feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit.” (Lil Wayne declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

OxyContin

Darren Mccollester / Getty Images

Then came pills. In 1996, sufferers of chronic pain started getting prescriptions for a new drug called Oxycontin. A physician, Dr. Roneet Lev, chair of San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, told to Fox 5 San Diego that when Oxycontin hit the market, its parent company Purdue Pharma told doctors that only 1% of patients became addicted and furthermore that they were cruel if they didn’t prescribe it. In reality, addiction was much more prevalent, and ultimately helped to lead to America’s current opioid crisis, President Trump declaring it a national emergency in August. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the crisis was caused by three main variables: the huge jump of scripts written; “aggressive marketing” by pharmaceutical companies; and “greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes.”

Elsewhere, Xanax, also known as happy pills, can be used to take the anxiety-ridden edge off other drugs like Ecstasy and soothe depression and unhappy feelings, making it a choice party drug. And thanks to pill mills, establishments where doctors loosely doled out prescriptions, drugs like Oxy, Vicodin, Percocet, and others weren’t too tough to get as long as one had the money. Users could cycle through several pill mills in one day to maintain their supply for personal use or for sale.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Ebro — host of New York’s Hot 97 morning show and Apple’s Beats 1 — wanted to clarify: Hip-hop didn’t start the pill-popping epidemic, that pills’ entry into rap’s vernacular is a reflection of whatever was already happening in United States specifically with youth culture.

Lil Wayne in “The Carter” documentary / Via vimeo.com

As artists like Lil Wayne rose in ranks in the mid-aughts, they “broke away from hood-centered paradigms in hip-hop culture,” said Langston Wilkins, ethnomusicologist and program officer with the State Humanities Council of Tennessee in Nashville. They brought with them “different cultural influences, whether it was Wayne’s skateboarding and pseudo-rock thing or Kanye’s high-fashion experiences. They also attracted different audiences and with them came different ways of partying or escaping your problems, like popping pills or tabs of Xanax and other drugs.”

Atlanta emcee Gucci Mane broke onto the larger hip-hop landscape in 2006 with “Pillz,” boasting a chorus asking “Is you rolling?” and him responding, “Bitch, I might be.”

“I was high as hell when I made ‘Pillz,’ and the next day when they played it, I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’ because it’s like I’m telling on myself!” said a now-sober Gucci during a recent event for YouTube in New York, speaking on his new book The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. “At the end of the day, I made millions but I was tripping.”

By 2011, Future debuted with his Dirty Sprite mixtape, directly shouting out lean, continuing on his career trajectory by touting drug use. As for his most recent summer hit “Mask Off,” he said in 2015 that all of the drug lingo is just for show. “I don’t have to do it all the time. I am sober,” he told Clique TV. “I’m not like super drugged out or a drug addict.” He raps about drugs, not because it’s his personal habit but “because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about. … It's the number one seller.” (Future declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper.

Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Rachel Murray, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The CDC lists suicide as the #2 cause of death for teens in the US, sandwiched between homicides and unintentional injuries, which can include accidental overdoses. Historically, black people don’t often see therapists or doctors as much as we should, and like our ancestors who often took their issues to the Lord in prayer, rappers take theirs to the recording booth. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Gates, who’ve both fought depression, have called music their therapy; however, it might also be good to also talk with a professional.

“There is something to be said for creative expression, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, professor and clinical psychologist in Northwestern University’s department of psychiatry. “Therapy is really about identifying dysfunctional thoughts and how your feelings can be a product of that, and you need someone else to step in and identify that.”

According to the Handbook of African American Psychology, anxiety is the “most prevalent class of mental disorders in the United States” in terms of mental health for people of all ethnicities; 28% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder includes “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD),” demonstrated by persistent and debilitating fear. Anxiety is often flanked by depression and drug abuse, born as a way to tackle uncomfortable feelings. More than a few music artists may be exposed to nonprescribed medication when they’re on the road and maintaining a pace that allows them to consistently perform in front of thousands of screaming fans. But that pattern can be a slippery slope to unhealthy and addictive self-soothing habits.

Slaughter Gang/Epic

What Pill-Popping In Hip-Hop Means For Mental Health

Flip through rap radio in the last couple years, and patterns emerge. Between the bars of Future’s viral hit “Mask Off” — “Percocets / Molly, Percocets” — there might be Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” describing suicidal thoughts, the title of the song itself the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llf3” details Xanax addiction and being pushed “to the edge” where he might “blow my brain out.” XXXTentacion raps about suicidal thoughts and simulated his own hanging in a recent video, as did rapper Father in his clip for “Suicide Party.” Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kevin Gates also have tracks dealing with narcotics abuse and the emotional woes caused by their indulgences.

Drug use and self-harm are hot topics in popular rap songs by chart-topping artists, and their simultaneous emergence is no coincidence, with each topic bearing a long history in a genre that’s typically dominated by black men.

“Self-medication is the name of the game in the culture of young black men in hip-hop,” Vic Mensa told BuzzFeed News in September. The Chicago emcee fought his way back from drug addiction after a season of depression and suicidal thoughts — which were brought on by prolonged use of pills among other substances. He raps about it in “There’s a Lot Going On.”

youtube.com

Kid Cudi wrote a letter to his fans in 2016 describing his own mental health issues and why they led him to rehab. “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” Cudi wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”

Joe Budden has been open about his addictive personality, and struggles with drug abuse on top of his own mood disorder. “As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more,” he said during Complex’s Everyday Struggle, an online show that he cohosts. “We’re so powerful as a culture … we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of these rappers are telling us what they’re going through and I try to listen for it.”

“As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more.”

From heroin and cocaine in jazz and R&B, to acid in funk, to marijuana and Ecstasy in hip-hop, narcotics have been a not-so-silent partner to the sound and the subjects in black music. In contemporary popular hip-hop, however, popping prescription pills like Xanax, Oxycontin, benzodiazepines, and MDMA along with lean — a mixture of soda and Actavis syrup (if you can find it) — have become a badge of honor in contemporary hip-hop as well as on mainstream radio. Songs like these highlight the connection between music, artists, and fans and how each reflects the other.

Hand in hand with the pill name-drops are health conditions — addiction, depression, chronic pain — that some prescription drugs are actually engineered to treat. The pill rap wave dovetails with the growing heroin epidemic on top of suicide becoming the number two cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hip-hop has moved from selling drugs to using drugs as a point of pride, and that arc tracks with amplified numbers of suicide and mental health concerns among hip-hop’s target audience. The tandem rise isn’t a quirky coincidence: It’s a serious cause for concern, if not only for the performers but also for fans. Hip-hop has more than a minor ailment — the culture’s got an addiction and it’s driving us mad.

Vic Mensa, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi.

Rich Polk, Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Drinking, smoking weed, and selling cocaine became staples in hip-hop — lyrically, and in practice — beginning in the mid-1990s, epitomized in albums like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. Tales of South American suppliers, coke bricks, and depictions of grimy dealers in the trap — a colloquialism for a drug and/or stash house — pumped from speakers in songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rappers like Ja Rule and 50 Cent moved on to include Ecstasy as a party drug in their lyrics, though the inclusion of pills rarely budged beyond that.

The affordable low-risk high of lean made the drink a drug of choice with Texas artists like DJ Screw, a pioneer of the “chopped and screwed” style that fit nicely with the beverage’s propensity for slowing down the world. Lean — aka “dirty Sprite,” “drank,” “syrup,” “sizzurp,” “purp,” and “barre” — started making its way into rhymes down South, evidenced by hits like Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin on Some Sizzurp” and Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK in 2000 (the same year Screw died from codeine-related conditions). Lean’s popularity in the black music community began long before the age of hip-hop, as retired University of Texas Health Science Center professor Ronald Peters told Noisey: In the 1950s, Houston blues musicians mixed cough syrup with beer and wine coolers to get the high of Benadryl today without garnering police attention.

But all along the way in hip-hop’s history, there’s been the counternarrative about drugs, prescription or not. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five told a cautionary tale about rap and drugs in 1984 with “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” and in 1988 and Public Enemy’s followed up with “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Cash Money Records founder Birdman’s (formerly Baby) regional 1993 track “I Need a Bag of Dope” with the 32 Golds celebrated his love for snorting heroin but then getting sick if he couldn’t score: “I started snortin’ and scratchin’ and throwing up.”

youtube.com

Southern hip-hop’s rise arguably crystallized in the national popularity of Baby’s protégé Lil Wayne around the release of 2004’s “Go D.J.” Along with his gravelly delivery, the rapper brought a lean-filled cup and a penchant for the rockstar lifestyle; as Wayne recorded his 2008 album Tha Carter III, that cup became a mainstay in his interviews. The unauthorized documentary The Carter revealed his escalating narcotic dependence and the havoc it caused. Musically, while other rappers rhymed about indulging in weed and Ecstasy and privately snorted cocaine, this film shows Wayne giddily mixing lean as his manager exasperatingly dealt with his artist in the grip of addiction.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne cuts like “Me and My Drank” and “Viva La White Girl” blatantly described the New Orleans MC’s predilections — and it sounded great, unfortunately. Wayne also spoke to his lean dependency during an interview with MTV News in 2008, saying, “Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy. … feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit.” (Lil Wayne declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

OxyContin

Darren Mccollester / Getty Images

Then came pills. In 1996, sufferers of chronic pain started getting prescriptions for a new drug called Oxycontin. A physician, Dr. Roneet Lev, chair of San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, told to Fox 5 San Diego that when Oxycontin hit the market, its parent company Purdue Pharma told doctors that only 1% of patients became addicted and furthermore that they were cruel if they didn’t prescribe it. In reality, addiction was much more prevalent, and ultimately helped to lead to America’s current opioid crisis, President Trump declaring it a national emergency in August. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the crisis was caused by three main variables: the huge jump of scripts written; “aggressive marketing” by pharmaceutical companies; and “greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes.”

Elsewhere, Xanax, also known as happy pills, can be used to take the anxiety-ridden edge off other drugs like Ecstasy and soothe depression and unhappy feelings, making it a choice party drug. And thanks to pill mills, establishments where doctors loosely doled out prescriptions, drugs like Oxy, Vicodin, Percocet, and others weren’t too tough to get as long as one had the money. Users could cycle through several pill mills in one day to maintain their supply for personal use or for sale.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Ebro — host of New York’s Hot 97 morning show and Apple’s Beats 1 — wanted to clarify: Hip-hop didn’t start the pill-popping epidemic, that pills’ entry into rap’s vernacular is a reflection of whatever was already happening in United States specifically with youth culture.

Lil Wayne in “The Carter” documentary / Via vimeo.com

As artists like Lil Wayne rose in ranks in the mid-aughts, they “broke away from hood-centered paradigms in hip-hop culture,” said Langston Wilkins, ethnomusicologist and program officer with the State Humanities Council of Tennessee in Nashville. They brought with them “different cultural influences, whether it was Wayne’s skateboarding and pseudo-rock thing or Kanye’s high-fashion experiences. They also attracted different audiences and with them came different ways of partying or escaping your problems, like popping pills or tabs of Xanax and other drugs.”

Atlanta emcee Gucci Mane broke onto the larger hip-hop landscape in 2006 with “Pillz,” boasting a chorus asking “Is you rolling?” and him responding, “Bitch, I might be.”

“I was high as hell when I made ‘Pillz,’ and the next day when they played it, I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’ because it’s like I’m telling on myself!” said a now-sober Gucci during a recent event for YouTube in New York, speaking on his new book The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. “At the end of the day, I made millions but I was tripping.”

By 2011, Future debuted with his Dirty Sprite mixtape, directly shouting out lean, continuing on his career trajectory by touting drug use. As for his most recent summer hit “Mask Off,” he said in 2015 that all of the drug lingo is just for show. “I don’t have to do it all the time. I am sober,” he told Clique TV. “I’m not like super drugged out or a drug addict.” He raps about drugs, not because it’s his personal habit but “because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about. … It's the number one seller.” (Future declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper.

Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Rachel Murray, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The CDC lists suicide as the #2 cause of death for teens in the US, sandwiched between homicides and unintentional injuries, which can include accidental overdoses. Historically, black people don’t often see therapists or doctors as much as we should, and like our ancestors who often took their issues to the Lord in prayer, rappers take theirs to the recording booth. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Gates, who’ve both fought depression, have called music their therapy; however, it might also be good to also talk with a professional.

“There is something to be said for creative expression, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, professor and clinical psychologist in Northwestern University’s department of psychiatry. “Therapy is really about identifying dysfunctional thoughts and how your feelings can be a product of that, and you need someone else to step in and identify that.”

According to the Handbook of African American Psychology, anxiety is the “most prevalent class of mental disorders in the United States” in terms of mental health for people of all ethnicities; 28% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder includes “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD),” demonstrated by persistent and debilitating fear. Anxiety is often flanked by depression and drug abuse, born as a way to tackle uncomfortable feelings. More than a few music artists may be exposed to nonprescribed medication when they’re on the road and maintaining a pace that allows them to consistently perform in front of thousands of screaming fans. But that pattern can be a slippery slope to unhealthy and addictive self-soothing habits.

Slaughter Gang/Epic

What Pill-Popping In Hip-Hop Means For Mental Health

Flip through rap radio in the last couple years, and patterns emerge. Between the bars of Future’s viral hit “Mask Off” — “Percocets / Molly, Percocets” — there might be Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” describing suicidal thoughts, the title of the song itself the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llf3” details Xanax addiction and being pushed “to the edge” where he might “blow my brain out.” XXXTentacion raps about suicidal thoughts and simulated his own hanging in a recent video, as did rapper Father in his clip for “Suicide Party.” Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kevin Gates also have tracks dealing with narcotics abuse and the emotional woes caused by their indulgences.

Drug use and self-harm are hot topics in popular rap songs by chart-topping artists, and their simultaneous emergence is no coincidence, with each topic bearing a long history in a genre that’s typically dominated by black men.

“Self-medication is the name of the game in the culture of young black men in hip-hop,” Vic Mensa told BuzzFeed News in September. The Chicago emcee fought his way back from drug addiction after a season of depression and suicidal thoughts — which were brought on by prolonged use of pills among other substances. He raps about it in “There’s a Lot Going On.”

youtube.com

Kid Cudi wrote a letter to his fans in 2016 describing his own mental health issues and why they led him to rehab. “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” Cudi wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”

Joe Budden has been open about his addictive personality, and struggles with drug abuse on top of his own mood disorder. “As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more,” he said during Complex’s Everyday Struggle, an online show that he cohosts. “We’re so powerful as a culture … we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of these rappers are telling us what they’re going through and I try to listen for it.”

“As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more.”

From heroin and cocaine in jazz and R&B, to acid in funk, to marijuana and Ecstasy in hip-hop, narcotics have been a not-so-silent partner to the sound and the subjects in black music. In contemporary popular hip-hop, however, popping prescription pills like Xanax, Oxycontin, benzodiazepines, and MDMA along with lean — a mixture of soda and Actavis syrup (if you can find it) — have become a badge of honor in contemporary hip-hop as well as on mainstream radio. Songs like these highlight the connection between music, artists, and fans and how each reflects the other.

Hand in hand with the pill name-drops are health conditions — addiction, depression, chronic pain — that some prescription drugs are actually engineered to treat. The pill rap wave dovetails with the growing heroin epidemic on top of suicide becoming the number two cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hip-hop has moved from selling drugs to using drugs as a point of pride, and that arc tracks with amplified numbers of suicide and mental health concerns among hip-hop’s target audience. The tandem rise isn’t a quirky coincidence: It’s a serious cause for concern, if not only for the performers but also for fans. Hip-hop has more than a minor ailment — the culture’s got an addiction and it’s driving us mad.

Vic Mensa, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi.

Rich Polk, Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Drinking, smoking weed, and selling cocaine became staples in hip-hop — lyrically, and in practice — beginning in the mid-1990s, epitomized in albums like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. Tales of South American suppliers, coke bricks, and depictions of grimy dealers in the trap — a colloquialism for a drug and/or stash house — pumped from speakers in songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rappers like Ja Rule and 50 Cent moved on to include Ecstasy as a party drug in their lyrics, though the inclusion of pills rarely budged beyond that.

The affordable low-risk high of lean made the drink a drug of choice with Texas artists like DJ Screw, a pioneer of the “chopped and screwed” style that fit nicely with the beverage’s propensity for slowing down the world. Lean — aka “dirty Sprite,” “drank,” “syrup,” “sizzurp,” “purp,” and “barre” — started making its way into rhymes down South, evidenced by hits like Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin on Some Sizzurp” and Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK in 2000 (the same year Screw died from codeine-related conditions). Lean’s popularity in the black music community began long before the age of hip-hop, as retired University of Texas Health Science Center professor Ronald Peters told Noisey: In the 1950s, Houston blues musicians mixed cough syrup with beer and wine coolers to get the high of Benadryl today without garnering police attention.

But all along the way in hip-hop’s history, there’s been the counternarrative about drugs, prescription or not. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five told a cautionary tale about rap and drugs in 1984 with “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” and in 1988 and Public Enemy’s followed up with “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Cash Money Records founder Birdman’s (formerly Baby) regional 1993 track “I Need a Bag of Dope” with the 32 Golds celebrated his love for snorting heroin but then getting sick if he couldn’t score: “I started snortin’ and scratchin’ and throwing up.”

youtube.com

Southern hip-hop’s rise arguably crystallized in the national popularity of Baby’s protégé Lil Wayne around the release of 2004’s “Go D.J.” Along with his gravelly delivery, the rapper brought a lean-filled cup and a penchant for the rockstar lifestyle; as Wayne recorded his 2008 album Tha Carter III, that cup became a mainstay in his interviews. The unauthorized documentary The Carter revealed his escalating narcotic dependence and the havoc it caused. Musically, while other rappers rhymed about indulging in weed and Ecstasy and privately snorted cocaine, this film shows Wayne giddily mixing lean as his manager exasperatingly dealt with his artist in the grip of addiction.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne cuts like “Me and My Drank” and “Viva La White Girl” blatantly described the New Orleans MC’s predilections — and it sounded great, unfortunately. Wayne also spoke to his lean dependency during an interview with MTV News in 2008, saying, “Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy. … feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit.” (Lil Wayne declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

OxyContin

Darren Mccollester / Getty Images

Then came pills. In 1996, sufferers of chronic pain started getting prescriptions for a new drug called Oxycontin. A physician, Dr. Roneet Lev, chair of San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, told to Fox 5 San Diego that when Oxycontin hit the market, its parent company Purdue Pharma told doctors that only 1% of patients became addicted and furthermore that they were cruel if they didn’t prescribe it. In reality, addiction was much more prevalent, and ultimately helped to lead to America’s current opioid crisis, President Trump declaring it a national emergency in August. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the crisis was caused by three main variables: the huge jump of scripts written; “aggressive marketing” by pharmaceutical companies; and “greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes.”

Elsewhere, Xanax, also known as happy pills, can be used to take the anxiety-ridden edge off other drugs like Ecstasy and soothe depression and unhappy feelings, making it a choice party drug. And thanks to pill mills, establishments where doctors loosely doled out prescriptions, drugs like Oxy, Vicodin, Percocet, and others weren’t too tough to get as long as one had the money. Users could cycle through several pill mills in one day to maintain their supply for personal use or for sale.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Ebro — host of New York’s Hot 97 morning show and Apple’s Beats 1 — wanted to clarify: Hip-hop didn’t start the pill-popping epidemic, that pills’ entry into rap’s vernacular is a reflection of whatever was already happening in United States specifically with youth culture.

Lil Wayne in “The Carter” documentary / Via vimeo.com

As artists like Lil Wayne rose in ranks in the mid-aughts, they “broke away from hood-centered paradigms in hip-hop culture,” said Langston Wilkins, ethnomusicologist and program officer with the State Humanities Council of Tennessee in Nashville. They brought with them “different cultural influences, whether it was Wayne’s skateboarding and pseudo-rock thing or Kanye’s high-fashion experiences. They also attracted different audiences and with them came different ways of partying or escaping your problems, like popping pills or tabs of Xanax and other drugs.”

Atlanta emcee Gucci Mane broke onto the larger hip-hop landscape in 2006 with “Pillz,” boasting a chorus asking “Is you rolling?” and him responding, “Bitch, I might be.”

“I was high as hell when I made ‘Pillz,’ and the next day when they played it, I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’ because it’s like I’m telling on myself!” said a now-sober Gucci during a recent event for YouTube in New York, speaking on his new book The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. “At the end of the day, I made millions but I was tripping.”

By 2011, Future debuted with his Dirty Sprite mixtape, directly shouting out lean, continuing on his career trajectory by touting drug use. As for his most recent summer hit “Mask Off,” he said in 2015 that all of the drug lingo is just for show. “I don’t have to do it all the time. I am sober,” he told Clique TV. “I’m not like super drugged out or a drug addict.” He raps about drugs, not because it’s his personal habit but “because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about. … It's the number one seller.” (Future declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper.

Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Rachel Murray, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The CDC lists suicide as the #2 cause of death for teens in the US, sandwiched between homicides and unintentional injuries, which can include accidental overdoses. Historically, black people don’t often see therapists or doctors as much as we should, and like our ancestors who often took their issues to the Lord in prayer, rappers take theirs to the recording booth. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Gates, who’ve both fought depression, have called music their therapy; however, it might also be good to also talk with a professional.

“There is something to be said for creative expression, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, professor and clinical psychologist in Northwestern University’s department of psychiatry. “Therapy is really about identifying dysfunctional thoughts and how your feelings can be a product of that, and you need someone else to step in and identify that.”

According to the Handbook of African American Psychology, anxiety is the “most prevalent class of mental disorders in the United States” in terms of mental health for people of all ethnicities; 28% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder includes “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD),” demonstrated by persistent and debilitating fear. Anxiety is often flanked by depression and drug abuse, born as a way to tackle uncomfortable feelings. More than a few music artists may be exposed to nonprescribed medication when they’re on the road and maintaining a pace that allows them to consistently perform in front of thousands of screaming fans. But that pattern can be a slippery slope to unhealthy and addictive self-soothing habits.

Slaughter Gang/Epic

What Pill-Popping In Hip-Hop Means For Mental Health

Flip through rap radio in the last couple years, and patterns emerge. Between the bars of Future’s viral hit “Mask Off” — “Percocets / Molly, Percocets” — there might be Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” describing suicidal thoughts, the title of the song itself the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llf3” details Xanax addiction and being pushed “to the edge” where he might “blow my brain out.” XXXTentacion raps about suicidal thoughts and simulated his own hanging in a recent video, as did rapper Father in his clip for “Suicide Party.” Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kevin Gates also have tracks dealing with narcotics abuse and the emotional woes caused by their indulgences.

Drug use and self-harm are hot topics in popular rap songs by chart-topping artists, and their simultaneous emergence is no coincidence, with each topic bearing a long history in a genre that’s typically dominated by black men.

“Self-medication is the name of the game in the culture of young black men in hip-hop,” Vic Mensa told BuzzFeed News in September. The Chicago emcee fought his way back from drug addiction after a season of depression and suicidal thoughts — which were brought on by prolonged use of pills among other substances. He raps about it in “There’s a Lot Going On.”

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Kid Cudi wrote a letter to his fans in 2016 describing his own mental health issues and why they led him to rehab. “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” Cudi wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”

Joe Budden has been open about his addictive personality, and struggles with drug abuse on top of his own mood disorder. “As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more,” he said during Complex’s Everyday Struggle, an online show that he cohosts. “We’re so powerful as a culture … we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of these rappers are telling us what they’re going through and I try to listen for it.”

“As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more.”

From heroin and cocaine in jazz and R&B, to acid in funk, to marijuana and Ecstasy in hip-hop, narcotics have been a not-so-silent partner to the sound and the subjects in black music. In contemporary popular hip-hop, however, popping prescription pills like Xanax, Oxycontin, benzodiazepines, and MDMA along with lean — a mixture of soda and Actavis syrup (if you can find it) — have become a badge of honor in contemporary hip-hop as well as on mainstream radio. Songs like these highlight the connection between music, artists, and fans and how each reflects the other.

Hand in hand with the pill name-drops are health conditions — addiction, depression, chronic pain — that some prescription drugs are actually engineered to treat. The pill rap wave dovetails with the growing heroin epidemic on top of suicide becoming the number two cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hip-hop has moved from selling drugs to using drugs as a point of pride, and that arc tracks with amplified numbers of suicide and mental health concerns among hip-hop’s target audience. The tandem rise isn’t a quirky coincidence: It’s a serious cause for concern, if not only for the performers but also for fans. Hip-hop has more than a minor ailment — the culture’s got an addiction and it’s driving us mad.

Vic Mensa, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi.

Rich Polk, Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Drinking, smoking weed, and selling cocaine became staples in hip-hop — lyrically, and in practice — beginning in the mid-1990s, epitomized in albums like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. Tales of South American suppliers, coke bricks, and depictions of grimy dealers in the trap — a colloquialism for a drug and/or stash house — pumped from speakers in songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rappers like Ja Rule and 50 Cent moved on to include Ecstasy as a party drug in their lyrics, though the inclusion of pills rarely budged beyond that.

The affordable low-risk high of lean made the drink a drug of choice with Texas artists like DJ Screw, a pioneer of the “chopped and screwed” style that fit nicely with the beverage’s propensity for slowing down the world. Lean — aka “dirty Sprite,” “drank,” “syrup,” “sizzurp,” “purp,” and “barre” — started making its way into rhymes down South, evidenced by hits like Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin on Some Sizzurp” and Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK in 2000 (the same year Screw died from codeine-related conditions). Lean’s popularity in the black music community began long before the age of hip-hop, as retired University of Texas Health Science Center professor Ronald Peters told Noisey: In the 1950s, Houston blues musicians mixed cough syrup with beer and wine coolers to get the high of Benadryl today without garnering police attention.

But all along the way in hip-hop’s history, there’s been the counternarrative about drugs, prescription or not. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five told a cautionary tale about rap and drugs in 1984 with “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” and in 1988 and Public Enemy’s followed up with “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Cash Money Records founder Birdman’s (formerly Baby) regional 1993 track “I Need a Bag of Dope” with the 32 Golds celebrated his love for snorting heroin but then getting sick if he couldn’t score: “I started snortin’ and scratchin’ and throwing up.”

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Southern hip-hop’s rise arguably crystallized in the national popularity of Baby’s protégé Lil Wayne around the release of 2004’s “Go D.J.” Along with his gravelly delivery, the rapper brought a lean-filled cup and a penchant for the rockstar lifestyle; as Wayne recorded his 2008 album Tha Carter III, that cup became a mainstay in his interviews. The unauthorized documentary The Carter revealed his escalating narcotic dependence and the havoc it caused. Musically, while other rappers rhymed about indulging in weed and Ecstasy and privately snorted cocaine, this film shows Wayne giddily mixing lean as his manager exasperatingly dealt with his artist in the grip of addiction.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne cuts like “Me and My Drank” and “Viva La White Girl” blatantly described the New Orleans MC’s predilections — and it sounded great, unfortunately. Wayne also spoke to his lean dependency during an interview with MTV News in 2008, saying, “Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy. … feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit.” (Lil Wayne declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

OxyContin

Darren Mccollester / Getty Images

Then came pills. In 1996, sufferers of chronic pain started getting prescriptions for a new drug called Oxycontin. A physician, Dr. Roneet Lev, chair of San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, told to Fox 5 San Diego that when Oxycontin hit the market, its parent company Purdue Pharma told doctors that only 1% of patients became addicted and furthermore that they were cruel if they didn’t prescribe it. In reality, addiction was much more prevalent, and ultimately helped to lead to America’s current opioid crisis, President Trump declaring it a national emergency in August. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the crisis was caused by three main variables: the huge jump of scripts written; “aggressive marketing” by pharmaceutical companies; and “greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes.”

Elsewhere, Xanax, also known as happy pills, can be used to take the anxiety-ridden edge off other drugs like Ecstasy and soothe depression and unhappy feelings, making it a choice party drug. And thanks to pill mills, establishments where doctors loosely doled out prescriptions, drugs like Oxy, Vicodin, Percocet, and others weren’t too tough to get as long as one had the money. Users could cycle through several pill mills in one day to maintain their supply for personal use or for sale.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Ebro — host of New York’s Hot 97 morning show and Apple’s Beats 1 — wanted to clarify: Hip-hop didn’t start the pill-popping epidemic, that pills’ entry into rap’s vernacular is a reflection of whatever was already happening in United States specifically with youth culture.

Lil Wayne in “The Carter” documentary / Via vimeo.com

As artists like Lil Wayne rose in ranks in the mid-aughts, they “broke away from hood-centered paradigms in hip-hop culture,” said Langston Wilkins, ethnomusicologist and program officer with the State Humanities Council of Tennessee in Nashville. They brought with them “different cultural influences, whether it was Wayne’s skateboarding and pseudo-rock thing or Kanye’s high-fashion experiences. They also attracted different audiences and with them came different ways of partying or escaping your problems, like popping pills or tabs of Xanax and other drugs.”

Atlanta emcee Gucci Mane broke onto the larger hip-hop landscape in 2006 with “Pillz,” boasting a chorus asking “Is you rolling?” and him responding, “Bitch, I might be.”

“I was high as hell when I made ‘Pillz,’ and the next day when they played it, I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’ because it’s like I’m telling on myself!” said a now-sober Gucci during a recent event for YouTube in New York, speaking on his new book The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. “At the end of the day, I made millions but I was tripping.”

By 2011, Future debuted with his Dirty Sprite mixtape, directly shouting out lean, continuing on his career trajectory by touting drug use. As for his most recent summer hit “Mask Off,” he said in 2015 that all of the drug lingo is just for show. “I don’t have to do it all the time. I am sober,” he told Clique TV. “I’m not like super drugged out or a drug addict.” He raps about drugs, not because it’s his personal habit but “because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about. … It's the number one seller.” (Future declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper.

Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Rachel Murray, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The CDC lists suicide as the #2 cause of death for teens in the US, sandwiched between homicides and unintentional injuries, which can include accidental overdoses. Historically, black people don’t often see therapists or doctors as much as we should, and like our ancestors who often took their issues to the Lord in prayer, rappers take theirs to the recording booth. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Gates, who’ve both fought depression, have called music their therapy; however, it might also be good to also talk with a professional.

“There is something to be said for creative expression, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, professor and clinical psychologist in Northwestern University’s department of psychiatry. “Therapy is really about identifying dysfunctional thoughts and how your feelings can be a product of that, and you need someone else to step in and identify that.”

According to the Handbook of African American Psychology, anxiety is the “most prevalent class of mental disorders in the United States” in terms of mental health for people of all ethnicities; 28% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder includes “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD),” demonstrated by persistent and debilitating fear. Anxiety is often flanked by depression and drug abuse, born as a way to tackle uncomfortable feelings. More than a few music artists may be exposed to nonprescribed medication when they’re on the road and maintaining a pace that allows them to consistently perform in front of thousands of screaming fans. But that pattern can be a slippery slope to unhealthy and addictive self-soothing habits.

Slaughter Gang/Epic

Watch music on TV: AXS TV programming highlights for the week of Oct. 8-14



AXS TV has another fabulous week of programming ahead. The lineup includes the conclusion of Boot Camp on “The X Factor UK” airing in the U.S. tonight, Oct. 8 and tomorrow, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and the exciting fall premiere of “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” featuring the divine Mrs. O…

Nashville rockers Every Mother’s Nightmare make their comeback with ‘Grind’



Nashville may be known primarily for its country music, but in recent years it has also become more and more of a rock and roll factory, producing successful acts like Kings of Leon, Paramore, and Moon Taxi. But that hasn’t always been the case. In the late ’80s, a successful rock act out of…

Weezer: Living the good life in Denver


Matt Farley
When Weezer released “The Good Life” in 1996, frontman Rivers Cuomo was 26 years old. So the song’s key lyric (“I don’t wanna be an old man anymore, it’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor”) packed a significant dose of irony. Playing the song Oct. 7 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Cuomo…

Weezer: Living the good life in Denver


Matt Farley
When Weezer released “The Good Life” in 1996, frontman Rivers Cuomo was 26 years old. So the song’s key lyric (“I don’t wanna be an old man anymore, it’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor”) packed a significant dose of irony. Playing the song Oct. 7 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Cuomo…

Weezer: Living the good life in Denver


Matt Farley
When Weezer released “The Good Life” in 1996, frontman Rivers Cuomo was 26 years old. So the song’s key lyric (“I don’t wanna be an old man anymore, it’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor”) packed a significant dose of irony. Playing the song Oct. 7 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Cuomo…

The xx concert moved from Red Rocks to 1STBANK Center due to weather concerns



There’s a bonus track on the deluxe edition of The xx’s new album I See You called “Seasons Run.” It turns out the weather-themed song is a perfect preview for the group’s upcoming performance in Colorado.
As a result of an expected early fall snowstorm, The xx’s show scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9 at…

Tom Petty officially pronounced dead: October 20, 1950 — October 2, 2017

Tom Petty officially pronounced dead: October 20, 1950 — October 2, 2017

Tom Petty, one of the biggest and best-selling musicians of all time, has died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.  After a period of prolonged uncertainty — and retractions — the singer was officially pronounced dead late Monday evening (October 2nd).

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ longtime manager, Tony Dimitriades, confirmed the death.

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived.  He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Tom Petty suffered a full-blown cardiac arrest in his Malibu home Monday morning, according to details now confirmed.  The singer was rushed to hospital care while still showing a pulse — and struggled on life support throughout the day.  Petty was subsequently removed from life support.

Tom Petty had just finished a string of dates with the Heartbreakers.

That included a Hollywood Bowl show, where Petty played well-worn hits while also digging up some deeper cuts.  Of course, the crowd loved it all, with most singing every word (at least to his hits).

Petty experienced a taste of success early in his career.  But after a short stint with the fast-rising Mudcrutch, Petty found himself in Los Angeles rebuilding with a new group: the Heartbreakers.  The rest, as they say, is history, though Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers struggled for most of the 70s.

The group got a major label deal, but failed to gain serious traction after their 1976 debut.  The opening single, ‘Breakdown,’ never caught on — at least initially.  But some traction existed, and Petty’s hit-writing capabilities soon came forth.  By the late 70s, Petty had experienced significant success but struggled financially.  Blame major label jockeying and other shenanigans, though a string of hits and success emerged as the 80s dawned.

It’s a headache that probably took a few years off the guy’s life.  But after considerable wrangling and protracted litigation involving two major labels, Petty’s career took flight.  Damn the Torpedoes, released in 1979, became a multi-platinum release.  Powering the success were tracks like “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee”.

Tom Petty officially pronounced dead: October 20, 1950 — October 2, 2017

Of course, that was just a prelude to a massively-successful solo career.

These days, songs like ‘Free Fallin’” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” are classics.  But Petty’s reliance on simple chord progressions became a focus of criticism, particularly given his penchant for litigation.

That recently included an aggressive legal attack against Sam Smith, who was intimidated into a settlement for plagiarizing a three-chord progression for ‘Stay With Me’.  The supposedly-copied track, ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ does bear similarity to Smith’s hit.  But Smith, in his young 20s, argued that he’d never heard Petty’s song from the 80s.

Either way, Petty and his attorneys were accused of using legal threats and intimidation to force aggressive settlements.

Sadly, Petty’s situation was overshadowed by the deaths of more than 50 concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday evening and Monday morning.  It was all part of a pretty depressing day in the music world — and the world in general.

Basketball Legend Michael Jordan Responds To Donald Trump


Legendary Michael Jordan responds to Donald Trump by saying, “One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech… we should be looking for ways to work together and support each other and not create more division. I support Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA, its players and all those who wish to exercise their right to free speech.” 

Do you think Trump will respond?

Photo: Getty Images

Chance the Rapper donates $2.2 Million to Chicago Public Schools after people threaten to shoot him

Chance the Rapper announces donation to Chicago Public Schools
Chance the Rapper announces donation to Chicago Public Schools

Chance the Rapper continues to do great and necessary deeds for his hometown. Most recently at The Harold Washington Cultural Center, Chance pledged to donate another $2.2M dollars to the Chicago Public Schools to fund the arts through “The New Chance Fund.” His organization, Social Works, empowers youth through the arts education and civic engagement.

The “New Chance Fund” was designed to bring arts and materials to schools that are in the greatest need. For every $100K donated by corporations and individuals, Social Works will donate $10K. Twenty public schools have been chosen to receive a portion of the proceeds.

At the beginning of the Steve Job-esque presentation, Chance mentioned that since he has been off tour, he has found a few things distressing. He has been told on two different occasions that he would be shot. The other matter on his mind was the thought that his daughter would soon be starting school in a city full of such unease. “Twice just in the last month [since] I’ve been back I’ve had someone tell me that they were going to shoot me. Both were small altercations and I could tell immediately upon [the] point of contact that these young people had a chip on their shoulder and that they felt undervalued or cheated,” Chance said

Chance the Rapper announces his $2.2M donation to Chicago Public Schools (Photo credit: Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

This continues Chance’s streak of good deeds from helping a Detroit nonprofit provide sleeping bags to their homeless to creating OpenMike, a safe space in the city of Chicago for high school students to share their expressions.

The Grammy Award winner exhibits a commitment to his city and his fans that that can only make the world better. Watching an artist use their platform for so many noble causes demonstrates what can be accomplished with a concerted effort.

Chance launched Social Works at the Bud Billiken parade in Chicago a few weeks ago. They gave away 30K backpacks and free tickets to a concert Chance put on later that evening. The support for Chance is infectious and it almost looks like a career in politics would be in the cards for him. Considering his father is one of the most influential people on Chicago’s political landscape, it wouldn’t be a stretch if it were to happen.

This latest donation comes at a time when the CPS is struggling with budgeting issues and the state of Illinois just passed a budget after three years of not having one. Organizations like Chance’s Social Works are needed now more than ever.

What do you think about this?

Nike Has “Brand Problem” With Air Jordan Brand


The Swoosh and Jumpman have dominated the sportswear market for quite a while, but as with time, things simply change.
According to Business Insider, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote that Jordan’s performance was “much worse than expected” in a note about Foot Locker, which continued, “The risk is this is a sign Nike has the previously unthinkable ‘brand problem’ with its Jordan Brand.”
The rise of adidas has certainly impacted the sales of both Nike and Jordan, as current trends are essentially inclined towards low-top lifestyle silhouettes such as the adidas Superstar, Yeezy models and other sleek variations, compared to the chunkier aesthetic of basketball shoes that do not complement skinny jeans or joggers.
In a call with investors on August 18, Foot Locker CEO Dick Johnson said “The sell-throughs of certain Jordan models slowed considerably compared to historical rates” in North America.
However, Nike plans and continues to offer more Jordans, including rereleases of retros in order to alleviate the issue, although demand for the brand has dropped and may continue to erode the value of Jordan, according to Josh Luber, CEO of the sneaker resale platform StockX.
Has His Airness been dethroned? Share your thoughts below.

Mad Magazine responds to Trump’s decision to lift ban on military gear for local police with a fresh take on Rockwell

TRUMP LIFTS BAN ON MILITARY GEAR FOR LOCAL POLICE

Norman Rockwellian Dept.

Mad Magazine responds to Trump’s decision to lift ban on military gear for local police with a fresh take on Norman Rockwell classic (see below):


__

From MAD #531, February 2015

Writer: Desmond Devlin

Artist: Richard Williams