Drugs and music have been connected LONG before hip-hop’s inception. Though the media portrays hip-hop as the music form pushing drug culture (I wonder why), pop & rock stars were about that drug talk years before rap music was even a concept. Popular rock groups such as Grateful Dead, Beatles, and a number of others made music revolved around the use of acid and many other substances in the late 60’s and 70’s. Literally every form of music that evolved from Rock & Roll, including heavy metal and grunge, celebrated drug use.
Though drug talk wasn’t a new topic in music, lyrical stories told from the dealer's point of view was uncommon before rap in the late 80’s. Many question why rappers talked/talk about selling drugs and the answer is quite simple. PEOPLE WERE SELLING DRUGS. Once the crack epidemic hit (with some thanks to former US President Ronald Reagan…let’s stop acting like this didn’t happen), black and brown communities were hit like no others. Poverty led to desperate acts. Suffering people began to sacrifice their communities for their own shot at success, and sometimes survival. You now had hip-hop artists speaking to their past as drug dealers, witnessing other people sell drugs in their neighborhoods, and some just flat out lying about selling drugs. The drug dealer became a symbol of success because frankly, they were the only people in certain communities who had any money. Though some spoke truth about this in a factual manner by speaking of its consequences, many glamorized this lifestyle and even promoted it. Dangerously, the "trap star" success symbol was born.
Today, there is a new danger within the culture, the glamorization of drug USE. Yes, the fiend has now stepped unto the forefront of hip-hop! Though a couple of artists like Three-6 Mafia talked about using drugs in the 90’s, it wasn’t a popular subject. NOBODY wanted to be the user. Besides marijuana, hip-hop steered pretty clear of bragging about being a user. Today you are able to have a #1 song with chorus that chants “Percocet, Molly Percocet” over and over again. These types of records normalize and glamorize drugs that are beyond hazardous. No need to go too in-depth about why this is dangerous. People who pop pills and do hard drugs tend to overdose and die...pretty simple. We've lost many entertainers to drug use...Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Chris Kelly, Pimp C and more recently rapper Lil Peep.
Now is the question that has everyone talking; what’s worse, the glorification of the user or the dealer within the culture? Though the glorification of either is dangerous to the youth who don’t have strong family foundations, I would have to say the glorification of the user is more dangerous. My reasoning is far beyond the fact that we have a new generation of rappers looking like clowns. The fact of the matter is, most black men will never sell drugs. Yes white people, this includes the ones who live in the hood. Most will never even be presented with the opportunity to sell drugs. Though the glorification of the dealer does in-fact make selling drugs seem like a good option and sway many in the direction of doing so themselves, most young people will not have the courage, ignorance, or heart to go out and actually do it. The stereotype that most young men in the hood sell drugs is just a flat out lie. Popping a pill on the other hand is much more accessible to EVERYONE, at all times. It doesn’t take much courage to go out and do drugs, especially when dealing with the issues that come with being black in America. The youth have been experimenting with drugs and alcohol since the beginning of time. I can personally say that I was one of the few at my high-school who weren’t smoking weed every day after school. It was a considered acceptable growing up, partially due to every rapper talking about getting high/faded. Despite this not being great either, there weren’t many dangers that came with it. Prescription drugs taking the place of weed on the other hand, is an immediate threat. Hip-hop has dictated what is considered “cool” since it came on the scene. Pills becoming normalized has and will continue to cause many deaths of young people.
I want to reiterate that the glorification of both are completely wrong and DANGEROUS to our people. The fact of the matter is that one will effect more individuals than the other. People were selling drugs long before it was being talked about in songs. What drugs young people use has and always will be the drugs presented as cool within media.