Are ravers the modern day hippies? There are plenty of parallels, from the flower imagery to the PLUR mentality. Then, of course, there’s the idea of using drugs as a path to enlightenment. (Or at least, amazing vibes.)
But when it comes to drugs there’s a key difference: The hippies were safer. From their weak-ass pot to their LSD, their preferred recreational drugs were less likely to kill you.
Sure, anyone can get a “bad” dose of drugs, but as Dennis Romero reported in September, all of those rave deaths you hear about aren’t a result of, say, molly mixed with rat poison — they’re the result of molly itself.
But EDM devotees aren’t the only ones glamorizing unsafe drugs. Hip-hop, which has featured its own sporadic shout-outs to MDMA over the years, has became increasingly obsessed with lean, a.k.a. codeine-promethazine cough syrup combined with soda (and sometimes Jolly Ranchers).
Sure, death from LSD is possible, but rare. And the idea that it makes you say, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to jump off a building?” is baloney.
As for lean? That stuff ends folks’ lives on the regular.
What started as a phenomenon confined mainly to Houston and the South has spread out all over the country; mainstream rappers including A$ap Rocky and Drake have talked it up in song. Even Miley Cyrus had on her tour giant screens featuring animated images of overflowing cups of purple drank.
The difference here is that lean is not just killing rap fans — it’s killing rap artists themselves. Out of Houston alone, the deaths of DJ Screw, Big Moe and Pimp C were all tied to syrup use. A lean addiction nearly killed Lil Wayne; at the very least it contributed to him getting eight root canals, which is as bad as death.
Particularly annoying are rappers like Fat Joe, who have glamorized it in song and don’t even use it themselves.
We understand that youth music is always going to trade in rebelliousness; we get the whole sex, drugs, and rock & roll thing, and understand that you can’t stop kids from getting fucked up. And, yeah, obviously, legal stuff like alcohol and cigarettes have killed more people than lean or ecstasy ever will.
But encouraging behavior that is so directly linked to death is too much. Why mainstream EDM culture continues to glorify ecstasy is a mystery; indeed, as often, ravers and musicians will allege persecution by the media, or insist that the solution is simply “responsible drug use.”
That is, in fact, the solution, but it doesn’t mean getting kits to test your molly. It means not using molly.
Whatever happened to getting fucked up responsibly?
No, seriously, marijuana is a great drug that will not only safely get you high, it will, like, put you in touch with the spirit world. (And God bless the many, many rappers and ravers who speak up, nearly constantly, on its behalf.)
Magic mushrooms? Some scientists think they’re pretty safe.
And both of those drugs are waaaay cheaper than promethazine cough syrup, which can go for hundreds of dollars a bottle.
In any case, by all means have fun out there. Just put stuff in your body that will still allow you to have a body when it’s over.
And if you’re in a position where people actually give a shit what you say, try to say something that’s not destructive.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 13, 2014