Hip-hop music has become famous for its brutal honesty and its ability to tackle difficult topics that genres like pop veer away from. That’s why we actually weren’t that surprised to hear that addiction has become a prime topic among rap lyricists in the music biz. Rising artists like Vic Mensa, Logic and Draper have made it an ongoing theme in some of their most enduring songs.
The Los Angeles Times offered an insightful piece on the topic this week, showcasing the young talent and their fearlessness when it comes to exposing their dependencies. Mensa was profiled for the piece and described some of the inspirations behind his hit track, “Wings.”
Sample lyrics include…
In the cyclone of my own addiction. The voices in my head keep talking… / ‘You’ll never be good enough…you never was / …You hurt everyone around you, you’re impossible to love / …I wish you were never born, we would all be better for it / …You’re still a drug addict, you’re nothing without your medicine / Go and run to your sedative, you can’t run forever, Vic.
You can listen to the full track below (which also features Pharrell Williams and Saul Williams).
Logic, who was recently featured on the Grammys broadcast, preached recovery on several of his songs. In fact, the title of one is “1-800-273-8255;” which is literally a support hotline for help. The L.A. Times reports that one single alone shot lifeline calls up between 30 and 40 percent.
On the flip side, certain artists have been criticized for potentially glamorizing drugs and alcohol in their lyrics. Draper, for example, raps about how narcotics like cocaine have helped him “numb his pain,” which some believe could be a dangerous influence on young listeners.
In “Better Off Dying,” he raps…
Cocaine lined up, secrets that I’m hiding / …You don’t wanna cry now, better off dying. Even if I try hard, I ain’t gonna make it.
Mensa (who was interviewed for the piece) counters that sentiment. In his opinion, hip-hop is merely reflecting the experiences that he and his peers are facing in the modern world. “”It was big for me to recognize that drugs are a symptom of an underlying issue,” he explained. “You see it in hip-hop; you see it in punk. These kids come from nothing. Young black men experience a lot of trauma. They’ve lost people, seen violence, been humiliated by society. So they turn to alcohol, molly, lean.”
To his credit, Vic is very open about his two years of sobriety and is using his social media clout to speak out to fans about getting clean. He is also doing his part to influence his peers about the power their microphones wield when it comes to addiction awareness.
“There are so many ways for people who are suffering to seek treatment,” he added. “Any way to remove the stigma helps, and that can include popular culture and artists who resonate across their communities. These songs could be game changers.”