Here’s What Gordon Ramsay Had To Say About Lady Gaga’s Cake

Well that wasn’t very Christian of you, Gordon.

Hi! In case you are new on earth, this is a cake.

Hi! In case you are new on earth, this is a cake.

@ViviLittleM / Twitter / Via Twitter: @ViviLittleM

It has pink and white frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and is probably vanilla, but hopefully funfetti. It’s one of those cakes that probably has like three good friends, shops at Hot Topic, gets good grades, but definitely doesn’t care too much about being in the popular crowd. It ran the mile in 10 minutes this year. It’s a good cake.

It has pink and white frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and is probably vanilla, but hopefully funfetti. It's one of those cakes that probably has like three good friends, shops at Hot Topic, gets good grades, but definitely doesn't care too much about being in the popular crowd. It ran the mile in 10 minutes this year. It's a good cake.

@ladygaga / Instagram / Via instagram.com

The thing about this cake that makes it even more *special* is that Lady Gaga made this cake.

The thing about this cake that makes it even more *special* is that Lady Gaga made this cake.

@ARTPOPARTPOPART / Twitter / Via Twitter: @ARTPOPARTPOPART

The cake, lets call her “Matilda,” was baked for the Ronson sisters this past August.

The cake, lets call her "Matilda," was baked for the Ronson sisters this past August.

@ladygaga / Instagram / Via instagram.com

Fast forward to October of this year when some random Lady Gaga fan tweeted a picture of Gaga’s cake to chef Gordon Ramsay.

Fast forward to October of this year when some random Lady Gaga fan tweeted a picture of Gaga's cake to chef Gordon Ramsay.

@antpats2 / Twitter / Via Twitter: @antpats2

And here was Gordon Ramsay’s review:

And here was Gordon Ramsay's review:

@GordonRamsay / Twitter / Via Twitter: @GordonRamsay

How rude!

How rude!

@ladygaga / Instagram / Via instagram.com

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“Despacito” Just Made YouTube History, Passing Four Billion Views

Latinos are dominating the world…DE-SPA-CITO…

I’m pretty sure EVERYONE at this point has heard the Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee mega hit “Despacito.” Well, it just became the first YouTube video to pass four billion views.

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That’s right…FOUR BILLION VIEWS.

That's right...FOUR BILLION VIEWS.

And it's important to note that this is NOT the Justin Bieber version .

According to Google, the video surpassed the four billion mark on October 10 at 10 p.m. EST.

YouTube

Seriously, though…a TON of people watch this video everyday. The video averages a total of 14 million daily views, sometimes reaching as much as 25 million views on a single day…which is friggin’ insane.

Seriously, though...a TON of people watch this video everyday. The video averages a total of 14 million daily views, sometimes reaching as much as 25 million views on a single day...which is friggin' insane.

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“Despacito” has also left all other YouTube videos in the dust. The video has nearly 851 million views more than the second highest-viewed video: “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa.

"Despacito" has also left all other YouTube videos in the dust. The video has nearly 851 million views more than the second highest-viewed video: "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa.

“See You Again” is currently at 3,155,130,551 views. “Despacito” dominates the “Billion View Club” that includes prominent artists like Justin Bieber, Adele, Ed Sheeran, and others.

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Also, the video set a previous record, becoming the first YouTube video to reach three billion views in just 203 days.

Also, the video set a previous record, becoming the first YouTube video to reach three billion views in just 203 days.

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So, yeah. With Latinos dominating the entertainment world, how about we get some more representation out there.

So, yeah. With Latinos dominating the entertainment world, how about we get some more representation out there.

Just sayin'.

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Pink Regrets Saying She Was Team Taylor Swift

She’s officially “Team I don’t care.”

If you’re reading this, than you’re probably more than familiar with the details of the long-standing feud between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. (If you’re not, then read this and get up to speed.)

If you're reading this, than you're probably more than familiar with the details of the long-standing feud between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. (If you're not, then read this and get up to speed.)

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

While some celebs have made it clear whose side they’re on in this feud (most notably the members of Taylor’s so-called “squad”), most have stayed mum on the subject.

While some celebs have made it clear whose side they're on in this feud (most notably the members of Taylor's so-called "squad"), most have stayed mum on the subject.

Big Machine

And Pink was one of them…until recently. While promoting her new single “What About Us” on a radio show in London, back in August, she was asked whose side she was on (as part of a series of rapid fire questions). She responded with Team Taylor.

And Pink was one of them...until recently. While promoting her new single "What About Us" on a radio show in London, back in August, she was asked whose side she was on (as part of a series of rapid fire questions). She responded with Team Taylor.

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

…We played this game called “Pink Fast.” They’re like, “Team Katy or Team Taylor?” And I said, “Either way, I can’t win — but Taylor?” And I should’ve just kept my mouth shut because I don’t believe that. I don’t care. But I felt rushed and I didn’t know what to do. And I paid for it because then the next day: “Pink is Team Taylor.”

I have two kids — I have a baby. And it’s so different now. I’m not inclined toward drama and feuds and soundbites.

It surprises me how snarky it’s gotten. There were always these feuds between rock stars…but it’s gotten pretty bad. And we’re giving our power away by playing into it.

I think most of us are with Pink, and are totally Team I don’t Care!

I think most of us are with Pink, and are totally Team I don't Care!

Sony Music

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13 Celebrity #TBT Photos You Might Have Missed This Week

Beyoncé celebrating the first collaboration between her and Jay-Z kicks off this week’s #ThrowbackThursday.

Beyoncé celebrated the 15th anniversary of her and Jay-Z’s classic duet “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” by posting this clip from the music video, and also a clip of the two of them promoting it on TRL.

Instagram: @beyonce

Orlando Bloom shared this photo him and his co-star, the late Heath Ledger, on the set of their 2003 film Ned Kelly.

Instagram: @orlandobloom

Danielle Fishel posted this oh-so-’90s looking photo of herself hanging out with her fellow TGIF co-stars, Candace Cameron-Bure and Jodie Sweetin.

Instagram: @daniellefishel

Dolly Parton shared this photo of herself looking very country chic in the early ’80s.

Instagram: @dollyparton

January Jones posted these photos from her modeling days, back when she had brunette hair.

Instagram: @januaryjones

Joseph Gordon-Levitt remembered when he performed Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” on Lip Sync Battle.

Instagram: @hitrecordjoe

Janet Jackson celebrated the 20th anniversary of her seminal album The Velvet Rope by sharing some photos from the album’s booklet.

Instagram: @janetjackson

Rob Lowe posted this cute pic of himself and little brother Chad as kids.

Instagram: @robloweofficial

Sofía Vergara shared this photo of herself and her son Manolo in the early ’90s.

Instagram: @sofiavergara

Rashida Jones posted this photo of herself in middle school.

Instagram: @rashidajones

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13 Celebrity #TBT Photos You Might Have Missed This Week

Beyoncé celebrating the first collaboration between her and Jay-Z kicks off this week’s #ThrowbackThursday.

Beyoncé celebrated the 15th anniversary of her and Jay-Z’s classic duet “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” by posting this clip from the music video, and also a clip of the two of them promoting it on TRL.

Instagram: @beyonce

Orlando Bloom shared this photo him and his co-star, the late Heath Ledger, on the set of their 2003 film Ned Kelly.

Instagram: @orlandobloom

Danielle Fishel posted this oh-so-’90s looking photo of herself hanging out with her fellow TGIF co-stars, Candace Cameron-Bure and Jodie Sweetin.

Instagram: @daniellefishel

Dolly Parton shared this photo of herself looking very country chic in the early ’80s.

Instagram: @dollyparton

January Jones posted these photos from her modeling days, back when she had brunette hair.

Instagram: @januaryjones

Joseph Gordon-Levitt remembered when he performed Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” on Lip Sync Battle.

Instagram: @hitrecordjoe

Janet Jackson celebrated the 20th anniversary of her seminal album The Velvet Rope by sharing some photos from the album’s booklet.

Instagram: @janetjackson

Rob Lowe posted this cute pic of himself and little brother Chad as kids.

Instagram: @robloweofficial

Sofía Vergara shared this photo of herself and her son Manolo in the early ’90s.

Instagram: @sofiavergara

Rashida Jones posted this photo of herself in middle school.

Instagram: @rashidajones

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17 Facts That Will Change The Way You Listen To These Massive Songs

Britney Spears sampled a Bollywood classic and Pras sampled Dolly Parton.

Sampling can be an art form in itself, when it's subtle and blends seamlessly with new elements. Here are some songs you know, and their origins that you probably didn't know. So now you have two great songs.

You're welcome.

“Hold Up” by Beyoncé…

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Samples “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” by Andy Williams.

You can hear “Can't Get Used To Losing You” in the intro of “Hold Up” and throughout the song.

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“Hotline Bling” by Drake…

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Samples “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas.

Both tracks have near identical intros, though Drake's version is a little faster.

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Drake’s “One Dance”…

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Samples The Crazy Cousinz remix of “Do You Mind” by Kyla.

You can hear the part sampled in the Drake track at 0:33.

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Kanye West’s “Fade”…

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Samples “Mystery of Love” by Mr. Fingers.

You can hear the intro of “Mystery of Love” from 0:20 of “Fade”.

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Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster”…

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Samples “Cola Bottle Baby” by Edwin Birdsong.

The intro of “Cola Bottle Baby” can be heard throughout the whole Daft Punk track.

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Eminem’s “My Name Is”…

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Samples “I Got The…” by Labi Siffre.

You'll hear that immediately recognizable riff (0:09 of “My Name Is”) from 2:10 of “I Got The…”

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“Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G…

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And Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop”…

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Both sample La Di Da Di by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh.

This one needs a little explaining. “La Di Da Di” can be described as the Rosetta Stone of hip hop as it's one of the most sampled tracks ever, as you can see from the samples and references section of its Wikipedia page. The chorus of “Hypnotize” (from 0:55) references 4:00 in “La Di Da Di” using the same lyrics, except changing “Ricky, Ricky, Ricky” to “Biggie, Biggie, Biggie”.

“We Can't Stop” also borrows vocally from “La Di Da Di”. Miley's chorus (from 0:38) is “La di da di/ We like to party”, the same words can be heard at 1:10 in “La Di Da Di”.

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Britney Spears’ “Toxic”…

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Samples a Bollywood classic, “Tere Mere Beech Mein” by Lata Mangeshkar and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam.

The hook of “Toxic” can be heard at 0:27 of “Tere Mere Beech Mein”.

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Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” (ft. Jay Z)…

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Samples “Are You My Woman” by Chi-Lites.

You can hear that iconic intro of the Beyoncé track at 0:11 of “Are You My Woman”.

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Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”…

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Samples “Zamina Mina (Zangalewa)” by Golden Sounds.

The chorus of “Waka Waka” (at 0:59) can be heard from 0:10 in “Zamina Mina”.

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Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”…

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Samples Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”.

The intro of “Another One Bites The Dust” can be heard at 0:53 of “Hollaback Girl”.

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Pras’ “Ghetto Superstar” (ft. Mya and Ol’ Dirty Bastard)…

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Samples “Islands In The Stream” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

The melody of the chorus to “Ghetto Superstar” (from 0:19 and throughout) can be heard at 1:03 of “Islands In The Stream”.

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Daft Punk’s “Digital Love”…

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Samples “I Love You More” by George Duke.

You can hear the part that was sampled by Daft Punk immediately.

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Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”…

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Samples The Supreme’s “You Can’t Hurry Love”.

Both songs have the same intro.

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The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony”…

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Samples “The Last Time” by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra.

You can hear the orchestral parts The Verve sampled (at 0:05 and throughout) at 0:17 and 1:37 of “The Last Time”.

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And finally, DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” (ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller)…

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Samples “Maria Maria” by Santana.

But if you're over the age of 21, you already knew that.

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Little Mix Clapped Back When Someone Criticised Their Singing And It Was Hilarious

“Wig found on Mars.”

Little Mix, first of their name and all around goddesses of pop, kicked off their Glory Days Tour last night.

Little Mix, first of their name and all around goddesses of pop, kicked off their Glory Days Tour last night.

Max Tollworthy / Splash News

Although most thought the show was great, not everybody was as full of praise for the girls.

Although most thought the show was great, not everybody was as full of praise for the girls.

Twitter: @KillEmSel

But it turns out that one of them spotted the tweet and decided to reply with a low-key burn.

But it turns out that one of them spotted the tweet and decided to reply with a low-key burn.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Twitter: @littlemix

Even the fan who was on the receiving end seemed excited about it, changing her name to “THE GIRLS DRAGGED ME”.

Even the fan who was on the receiving end seemed excited about it, changing her name to "THE GIRLS DRAGGED ME".

Twitter: @KillEmSel

The only thing left to investigate is… who actually sent the tweet? Fans have their theories that it could be Perrie defending herself.

The only thing left to investigate is... who actually sent the tweet? Fans have their theories that it could be Perrie defending herself.

Twitter: @kayla_campfield

While some thought it could be Leigh-Anne.

While some thought it could be Leigh-Anne.

Twitter: @leighsimpact

Either way, the girls are definitely doing amazing sweetie.

Either way, the girls are definitely doing amazing sweetie.

Syco

There Are Actual Spanking Sounds In This Movie Score

Annnnnd it’s for a film about Wonder Woman.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which premieres Oct. 13, is a film about Wonder Woman’s kinky, bondage-filled origins.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which premieres Oct. 13, is a film about Wonder Woman's kinky, bondage-filled origins.

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If you didn’t know, the superhero was originally created by William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor who enjoyed engaging in BDSM with his two wives, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne.

If you didn't know, the superhero was originally created by William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor who enjoyed engaging in BDSM with his two wives, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne.

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In keeping with the film’s theme of nontraditional love and alternative sexuality, composer Tom Howe actually infused sounds of whips and spanking into the film’s score. Take a listen to one of the tracks below!

Those thwap-ing sounds? They’re actual samples taken from a recording session with dominatrixes.

Those thwap-ing sounds? They're actual samples taken from a recording session with dominatrixes.

DC Comics

Dominatrixes went into the studio for a day “and recorded a whole host of different noises of slaps and whips,” Howe told BuzzFeed News. He said he'd been experimenting with various percussive elements when Professor Marston director Angela Robinson suggested incorporating sounds of spanking into the music. “So then I got a whole roll of, literally, hours worth of different whips and spanks,” he said with a laugh.

“I wanted the music to have something about it that was a little bit subversive. Something in there that [said], ‘Well, this is lovely, but there is something about it that’s a little bit different,'” Howe continued.

"I wanted the music to have something about it that was a little bit subversive. Something in there that [said], 'Well, this is lovely, but there is something about it that's a little bit different,'" Howe continued.

Tom Howe

Courtesy Annapurna Pictures

The score will be released the same day the film premieres in theaters.

The score will be released the same day the film premieres in theaters.

Sony Classical

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

Narco Rap Is Hip-Hop’s Most Dangerous Game

When Big Los was deported from Texas to the Mexican border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 2015, he was worried.

He’d released a rap track a few months before, “Alto Calibre,” boasting of the exploits of the Chilango, an incarcerated member of the Gulf Cartel. The man behind bars had been a major figure in the Mexican city of Reynosa, which is roughly 50 miles inland from Matamoros. The two cities have long been bastions of factions of the Gulf Cartel, and while those groups sometimes get along, they sometimes don’t.

Ruje un pinche Corvette ZR1 / se bajá él chilango anda armado hasta él culo / Bien paletoso trae un reloj julbo / Con la pinche super dice ábranse o los fumo.

A fucking Corvette ZR1 engine roars / The Chilango steps out armed to the teeth / Real dapper, wearing a flossed-out watch / With the fucking gat he says, “Open up or I’ll smoke you.”

Big Los is a recognizable figure, known as much for his gruff voice and gun-toting music videos as his massive physique, reminiscent of Big Pun or the Notorious B.I.G. After arriving in Matamoros, Big Los immediately felt he’d be a target for the rival clique who controlled the city, so he said he called someone connected to the cartel, “a friend of a friend.”

Big Los

Nathaniel Janowitz

“I told him, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in the streets, man, everyone seems to know me,’” said Big Los in February. “‘I don’t want to get picked up because I did a song for a certain guy over there. And there’s an internal war between you guys.’”

The rapper was no stranger to Matamoros: He’d actually been born there before his family illegally migrated across the border to Brownsville, Texas, when he was a child. As a teenager, growing up in a rough part of Brownsville, he sold drugs and eventually ended up in jail. After release, he found rap music, and used it as a way to leave the streets. (He was deported to Mexico in 2015 after he tried to apply for US citizenship.)

While many rap artists look at the money and fame that comes from their music as an escape from the hardships of their lives, narco rap is an exception. The primary feature of the Spanish-language hip-hop subgenre is that drug cartel members pay rappers to make songs about their lives, called “dedications,” thus actually inviting hardship in. Big Los, one of the pioneers of narco rap, admits he regularly gets death threats via social media from people claiming to be contrarios — members of enemy cartels.

Starting in the ’80s and ’90s, artists combined the accordion-filled traditional corrido genre with this practice of telling boastful tales of drug traffickers in Mexico, and narcocorridos are still wildly popular today. However, in the last decade, a modernization of the practice has flourished in rap music, specifically concerning the Gulf Cartel along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, in tandem with cartel infighting and the Mexican government’s crackdown on gang violence and drugs. And now narco rap is spreading rapidly to other criminal groups throughout Mexico, like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, and the MS-13 in El Salvador. It’s also cropped up in Spanish-speaking communities in the US with narco rap songs delivered in English for the Latin Kings in Chicago and the Sureños in Los Angeles.

Big Los made it clear he isn’t a member of the Gulf Cartel, nor does he actually know the majority of the people he makes songs about. He receives messages through social media or text message explaining what the people want him to say about them; he checks that the songs have been approved by cartel bosses; then he makes the tracks for a fee.

And as one of the biggest-name narco rappers in the biz, Big Los makes the most money per song: around $3,000, and another $3,000 per video. Rapper 5050 (pronounced in the Spanish Cincuenta Cincuenta) charges $500. Lirik Dog, a Reynosa-based narco rapero, told me, “I’m one of the cheap ones,” charging $200 per dedication.

“You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is.”

“I can have it done in an hour. I can write a song in 15 minutes,” said Lirik Dog, smiling. With a price so low and a velvety flow, he has no problem staying busy, claiming he doesn’t know how many songs he’s written. He knows one producer of his has at least 900 of his tracks; he estimates he’s done at least 1,000. “If I did anything for another group, the people here would fuck me up. So I never do it, I only do it for the same group.” Like the others, he says threats like “they’re gonna cut out my tongue” are common.

Big Los also said tensions rise when the cartel members want more “heavy shit” out of the rappers who rhyme about them mostly threats toward contrarios. So he has to hedge his bets and his words whenever it comes to his subjects and their enemies. “You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is,” he said. He insisted that his benefactors understand he’s simply looking out for himself, as they need to do as well during these violent times.

With the song “Alto Calibre” he faced a similar issue. He released what he called “the dirty version” with his brother and fellow rapper Chino in which he warns that when the incarcerated member leaves prison, “sé los va a cargar la verga” — which could be translated, approximately, as “he’s going to fuck you all up.” Because “Alto Calibre” was about a guy in Reynosa, “I had to go talk to the main boss over there in Matamoros and present myself,” Big Los said, sitting in his home studio in McAllen, Texas, while he rolled a joint. He also asked permission to perform a concert and to live there. The boss obliged, and after that, Big Los said life in Matamoros was “lovely.” He went on to film what may be his most popular solo video for “Alto Calibre” — a six-and-a-half-minute epic that would make Ron Isley proud, featuring speaking scenes of a madrina, or madame, and her stable of sex worker surrounded by high-calibre weapons — and he removed the offensive line.

After a year in Matamoros, Big Los said, he was smuggled back into the United States in 2016 through a special transit point where only high-level cartel members cross the border. He’s back in Texas, trying to sort out his legal status, continuing to make songs for the Gulf Cartel. But while in Matamoros, Big Los recorded one of his biggest hits with another narco rapero, 5050.

The song wasn’t a dedication, but rather a hood love ballad called “Amor Malandro.” Both artists, Big Los and 5050, have appropriated the word “malandro” — which translates best as “thug.” Big Los released an album of dedications, called Dedicaciones Malandros. 5050 has “Flow Malandro” tattooed on his neck and chest in bold letters.

5050, “Malandro Graduado”

Ando alterado con El Kike por un lado

Negro el mercado de droga lo tengo saturado

El celular sonando, mi gente conectando

Y me siguen llamando, más dinero estoy contando

I roll wild with my homie Kike by my side

The black market, I overflowed it with the drugs

My phone’s ringing, my people are connecting

They keep calling me, I keep stacking cash

One of 5050’s most well-known narco rap songs is 2016’s “Malandro Graduado” (“Graduated Thug”). Although this song is another dedication, it could easily be a metaphor for 5050 himself, whose life has never been far from the cartel.

5050 grew up in a tough part of Matamoros while his mother worked for meager wages in one of the city’s numerous maquiladoras, factories that produce cheap exports mostly destined for the US. At 16 he went to work in a maquiladora as well, lasting only six months before he decided to hit the streets like his friends in 2007. He spent two years working as a puntero — a corner boy.

After two years, he took over a punto. It was during this time he began rapping and recorded a song about life on the streets. A friend of his heard it and asked him to make his inaugural dedication in 2010. “The first song I did was for one of my homies that worked with me,” said 5050. “But this kid’s dead now … He was an assassin.”

The song was “Escorpion 41,” which was his friend’s code number in the Scorpions, a military-styled cell of the Gulf Cartel that controlled Matamoros at the time.

“Then I started to do songs for heavier people, higher-ups,” he said, claiming he’s made 340 songs since then, 250 of which were dedications, many of which live online on YouTube, “from the bosses of the plaza to the guards, from the highest guys to the lowest.”

The customized gold-plated handgun of Jaime Gonzalez Duran, a.k.a. “Hummer”, founder of a group of hitmen called the “Zetas”, shown to the press at the hangar of the Federal Police in Mexico City, on November 7, 2008. Gonzalez worked for drug trafficker Osiel Cardenas Guillen, a.k.a. “El Mata Amigos” (The Friends' Killer).

Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

The Gulf Cartel is one of the oldest gangs in the country, with origins tracing back to the Prohibition era; it expanded into cocaine in the ’80s and ’90s. But the Gulf Cartel is perhaps most infamous for drug lord Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, whose reign turned Tamaulipas into arguably the most dangerous state in Mexico.

When Cárdenas took control of the cartel in the late ’90s, he recruited a number of Mexican military deserters to form his own army-like death squad, known as the Zetas. After Cárdenas was arrested in 2003 and extradited four years later, the Gulf Cartel faced an uncertain future, as 2007 was also the same year then-president Felipe Calderón began using the Mexican military to battle organized crime. In the 10 years since Mexico’s government declared war on the country’s drug cartels, more than 150,000 people have been murdered and roughly 28,000 people have disappeared.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things.”

By 2010 the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, now controlled by Cárdenas’s brother, Antonio Cárdenas aka Tony Tormenta, who created his own death squad called the Scorpions. The Zetas and Gulf Cartel went to war over Tamaulipas, the military was at war with both; Tamaulipas was a war zone.

When the military gunned down Tony Tormenta in an eight-hour firefight on November 5, 2010, in Matamoros, 5050 had already released several tracks about the Scorpions and the Gulf Cartel — a death sentence if he were ever found by the Zetas.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things,” said 5050, fidgeting uncomfortably at a Matamoros restaurant. “There’s people that hate me, they won’t forget. So I can’t leave.”

It took two days to track down 5050 after he missed our initial meeting, ignoring repeated phone calls and text messages. When we finally met, days later, his eyes were bloodshot, and he talked a mile a minute about problems in his personal life as he steered through the nighttime Matamoros traffic in his PT Cruiser. Hours later, eating tacos on the outskirts of the city, he’d admit he’d been lost in a three-day bender on cocaine, crack, and crystal meth.

5050

Nathaniel Janowitz

But in Matamoros, 5050 has struck a chord with the city’s young population, as a self-admitted hood malandro hollering out street ballads, a local 2Pac. At the restaurant, people called out his name; walking through the city’s historic center after midnight two young men came running down the street after 5050 asking for a photo. Even with his local fame, he feels unable to leave the city even to Reynosa, let alone another state.

“I’m trying to make other kinds of songs, so that I can leave to be a commercial rapper, but it’s really difficult,” said 5050, who along with soulful street dedications like “La Vida Es Un Riesgo” and “Mi Testamento,” also makes club trap ballads such as “Ando En La Disco.” “They’re always going to see my songs on YouTube, and consider me a narco rapper.”

Narco rap can be traced back to the song “El Tigre” by MC Babo, a member of Mexico’s most well-known gangster rap clique, Cartel de Santa: It’s believed to be the first dedication for a member of the Gulf Cartel, released around 2009. Although Cartel de Santa has stayed away from making additional narco rap tracks, the genre was quickly taken up by hip-hop duo Cano and Blunt in Reynosa, and Mexican Boy in Matamoros, who all began the proliferation of dedications around 2010. However, the most famous and popular rappers to emerge on the scene are Big Los and 5050.

youtube.com

Unable to leave the city without looking over his shoulder, 5050 remains in Matamoros as the Gulf Cartel he raps for has become less and less powerful. “After the señores were taken down, things destabilized,” said 5050. “There were bosses who knew how to control the crime, there was less violence, less kidnappings.”

Soldiers surround a burned car pictured in front of Televisa TV network after a car bomb exploded with no casualties, early Friday in the northeastern city Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state on August 27, 2010. The Gulf of Mexico drug cartel has been engaged in a bitter turf war for control of Tamaulipas smuggling routes into the United States with the Zetas drug cartel. AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

The fragmentation of the Gulf Cartel is a prime example of the failure of the Mexican government’s two-pronged strategy for combating organized crime; taking down high-level old-school señores, while deploying federal security forces to areas where the violence is out of control.

As narco rap began in the region, so did the violence — the Mexican government claims that between 2010 and 2016, more than 4,900 people were murdered in Tamaulipas and the state led the nation in the number of people disappeared as the Gulf Cartel fractured into various warring cliques, as well as fought off its hyper-violent offspring nemesis, the Zetas. The government numbers are widely believed to have been underestimated as well, as atrocities accumulated in the state, such as the mass murder of 193 people in the town of San Fernando in March 2011, and the discovery of numerous makeshift graves throughout the state. Local journalists hardly report on the violence any longer due to threats to their lives, and not many sane observers of the Mexican drug war would argue Tamaulipas isn’t the country’s most silenced state.

And while the death of Tony Tormenta eventually led to the end of the Scorpions, they didn’t become extinct; they’ve morphed into the Cyclones, a clique still affiliated with remaining members of the Cárdenas Guillén family that controls Matamoros.

The September 2011 death of Samuel Flores Borrego, aka Metro 3, in Reynosa is considered the end of the Gulf Cartel’s old-school capos. An iconic figure within the Gulf Cartel, he is mentioned repeatedly in narco rap songs. The circumstances of his death, believed to be a double-crossing between Matamoros and Reynosa, caused a split within the Gulf Cartel still felt today.

Lirik Dog, “Comando X”

Bien encapuchados y vestidos de negro

Con lanzagranadas, R's y chingo de cuernos

Comando X limpia el terreno

El cartel del golfo donde quiera es el bueno

Hooded up, and dressed in black

With grenade launchers, assault rifles, and a fuck ton of AK-47s

Commando X is cleaning up the land

The Gulf Cartel, wherever it is, it’s the good one.