Saturday, February 25, 2012

More on hip hop and drug use

Mike had an interesting post on the connection between rap and marijuana/other drugs and I thought the topic could use a bit more discussion or at least an analysis of a particular song or two. 
"Tommy Chong" takes a very matter-of-fact stance on the use of marijuana, delving into the history of the drug and its use (all the way back to the "jungles of the Ganges river: 2000 BC."The second verse details the steps that marijuana users should follow in order to avoid legal consequences. Although semi-humorous, the verse ends with a provocative thought: 
"This law’s so flawed, the foundation’s done
The more things outlawed, the more outlaws run
George Washington himself probably puffed the chronic
Now his face get exchanged for this shit, ironic."

It's interesting to think that marijuana use is against the law when there are other things out there--perfectly legal things--that arguably put prospective users at higher risk.

As far as the connection between drug use and hip hop is concerned, people may argue that hip hop artists are not meant to be role models and thus shouldn't have to censor their lyrics or subject matter of certain content. I would mostly agree there, but there is no denying that they do have an influence on the minds of listeners. I can speak for myself; personally I admire not only Macklmore's lyricism, but also his message in this and other songs. From his lyrics one would gather that he is a casual smoker who views marijuana differently from many of his contemporaries:

"I’m not against legalization, not at all.

I’m against glorification, you are not Snoop Dogg.

Moderation, that’s the key

But the door’s unlocked.
It’s up to you how you use it. 
Make the call, c’mon."

I myself am not a smoker, but that fact doesn't give me any sense of entitlement; I would never look down at all on those who do. Similarly, if I did smoke, I would feel no differently about those who don't. Anyone else have any thoughts on how drug use has shaped hip hop culture and vice-versa, (or your opinions of each)?


  1. Marijuana use has been completely glorified by artists in mainstream hip hop. It's kind of disappointing to me, from the view of talent, that rappers constantly promote the use of marijuana as their main inspiration. Macklmore's theory is extremely accurate in my opinion in that weed shouldn't be grounds for prejudice unless you flaunt its use like most artists do. Legalization isn't really the issue here seeing as people can and will smoke marijuana for as long as its available. But again, rappers need to be responsible with their blatant advertising because of the unrestricted nature of music.

  2. I would not quite argue that drug use has shaped hip hop or vice-versa. To me it is simple, you rap about what you know. It is just like anything else. The easiest writing assignment is always the one about yourself, and anyone can go on and on about what they did over the weekend. It is easy for people to talk or write about these things because they know all about them; they are a part of their everyday lives. They are discussing themselves. Drug use seems to be out of control as according to "," about 17.4 million people have used marijuana in the past month alone. Marijuana has intoxicated our society. All types of music sing about drugs, "Drugs or Jesus" by Tim McGraw, for example says, "Everybody just wants to get high." However, hip hop tends to be much less censored than other forms of music, and therefore gets away with more, and uses more references. For instance, when the public tried to say that the age old lullaby "Puff the Magic Dragon" was about drugs, Peter Yarrow denied it.

    Hip hop seems to carry a different stigma. It raps about what it wants to rap about and no one stops it. Potentially that is what so many people love and hate about the style. But in response to the original question, it is not a matter of marijuana shaping rap music or vice-versa, it is simply that marijuana is all around the lives of many of these rappers. And therefore, it is what they know and is easiest to rap about.

  3. I definitely agree with Jason in this case. I believe people tend to rap about what they know. Hip Hop get's a lot of slack for rapping about things like drugs and violence, but the neighborhoods that most of these people are coming from are ones fulled with those types of things. And I also agree with the fact that there are things that are legal but cause more damage, like Alcohol for instance. You hear of drunk drivers, and other accidents caused by people being drunk, but you rarely hear about people doing crazy things because they are high.
    I also do not smoke or drink, but I agree with you in the fact that I don't look down upon anyone who decides to do so.

  4. I personally love the song "Tommy Chong" because it addresses the issue of Marijuana in a non-traditional sense. More specifically, the artists, Blue Scholars and Macklemore, educate listeners on the subject rather than simply promote use.

    I've read through the comments and seen that not many of you are smokers which is a good thing. I am not afraid to admit that do smoke and, like Macklemore, am a strong proponent of legalization for a number of reasons.

    I also think that drug use has shaped hip hop culture more so than hip hop has shaped drug use. People have been smoking weed long before rap music became big, and today, rappers are not afraid to admit that many of their songs are inspired by smoking. For example, Chris Webby starts one of his songs with, "I got high and wrote this song in about 40 minutes"


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