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Marijuana, molly and music

Today’s rap has teenagers hooked on its messages condoning drug use

Uzor Awuzie, Student Life Editor

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Mask Off,” Future’s hit song of the summer, has students singing its catchy refrain of “Percocets, molly, percocets,” seemingly endorsing its use of the painkiller and recreational drug ecstasy. The song and others by mainstream acts such as Lil Yachty, Travis Scott has experts worrying of the popularization and acceptance of the use of illicit drugs among students.

Over the past two decades, researchers at UC-Berkeley claim that references to drugs in music have increased by a sixfold and worry that it may link to the prevalence of teenage drug use. According to researchers at Edison Research, a polling company, 92 percent of Americans aged 12 and older listen to broadcast radio, with hip-hop being the most popular. Students are listening to rappers, such as Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Xan, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp and others with drug-connected names who can serve as role models to teenagers willing to follow in the footsteps of people they admire. Junior Cole Gillis believes the problem is a game of one-upmanship.

“It’s basically a way of proving you’re on top of everyone else,” Gillis wrote. “It’s this new era of trap music that focuses primarily on taking drugs, wearing the most expensive clothes possible, and having sex with as many girls as
possible.”

While music cannot physically push one to take drugs, the glorified language used to address such substances has the ability to affect how listeners view them. They not only normalize the idea of their use, but their effects. Rappers tend to drugs often used among teens, like marijuana, stimulants, depressants, and a cough syrup mixture, lean. Common short-term effects of disorientation, dizziness, and hyperfocus are put in positive light when people are looking for quick way to escape reality. When one of the most concerning aspects of drug-taking is not seen as a concern anymore, it creates a higher risk of addiction, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. It can be especially crucial for teenagers, who take up a majority of the hip hop genre audience. Junior Derek Hogan, a fan of hip hop, agrees on the impact of rappers on teenagers.

“It ultimately depends on the rapper, some show encouragement while others don’t,” wrote Hogan. “However, the rapping industry does hold a lot of power on the topic of drugs and can influence the use or risk of them”

However, not all references to drugs are meant to promote abuse. Some rappers use them to shed light on how drug use can stem from difficult pasts or situations. Take Kendrick Lamar, a rapper who grew up in Compton and later moved to Chicago. At that period of time, crime and gang culture were increasingly prevalent. In his song, “Swimming Pools (Drank),” he discusses peer pressure and alcoholism regarding and family and friends. Influenced by his childhood, Lamar uses past experiences to spread awareness about alcohol and drug abuse.

“Groups like N.W.A. would rap about drugs, guns, killings, etc. because it was their reality; they were shining a light on [it],” Gillis wrote. “The number of artists doing that has dwindled in recent years, but there are artists like Kendrick Lamar and Joyner Lucas who discuss these drugs and how they’re either peer pressured into taking them or how they lost loved ones due to addiction.”

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Marijuana, molly and music