Opioids Sedate and Dim Lights in Hip-Hop:
Juice WRLD's Death Wakes the Masses Up
By Steven X
From the very beginning of popular music culture regardless of genre, the recreational usage of drugs has always been present either in a very pronounced or subtle manner. The type of drugs and the intensity of the drugs that artists used has varied over the years. However, drug usage has in some cases completely derailed artists’ career to the point of implosion or even death. For Hip-Hop in 2019, one of the biggest determinants that hinders the growth of many artists is the use of opioid drugs. Within Hip-Hop we have seen many young and gifted creatives suffer greatly and die from usage of prescription drugs like Percocet, Xanax and Codeine. Notable names that have transitioned include Mac Miller, DJ Screw, Lil Peep and most recently Juice WRLD.
After passing away on December 8th, 2019, Jarad Higgins who is better known as Juice WRLD’s death from alleged overdose has once again shown how the glorifying of a dangerous lifestyle can cause your own demise. The rapper who had just turned 21 was reportedly stopped in the Chicago Midway Airport on suspicion of possessing contraband in his private jet. In an effort to hide the evidence according to associates, Juice WRLD took several Percocets ultimately leading to his untimely death. Upon hearing this news the entire Hip-Hop community, has voiced what seems like a deeper concern for these terrible habits of usage. An example of this affect can be seen in the artist Trippie Redd vowing to stop drug use after seeing Juice WRLD die from an overdose. Too often some of the artists with the brightest futures are not allowed to fully flourish and grow because they use drugs that impede their physical health.
Artists often feel compelled to use these drugs in an effort to escape the pain and pressure that comes from their stardom. Amidst the music of artists like Juice WRLD (or any of the previously mentioned artists) you can hear them voicing their concerns and struggles from their destructive lifestyle. With so many examples of lyrics and content that refer to these bouts with opioids and other substances, there should be greater efforts on all sides to prevent artists from using drugs in a harmful manner. Too often, artists are misinformed by peers or exploited by their record labels in regards to the usage of drugs and are not protected out of selfish intentions by other parties.
While certain artists in today’s landscape have spoken about alternative coping mechanisms outside of drug use (such as J. Cole with his 2018 project KOD), there needs to be more artists that take responsibility in advising against the use of opioid drugs. Change always comes from people in positions of influence taking charge and speaking up about wrongdoings in their respective community and artists in Hip-Hop should embody that progressive mentality. It is important to remember the roots of Hip-Hop as an educational tool used by OGs to impart knowledge on the masses and utilize that understanding to stop the abuse of opioid drugs.
"IN THE BOOTH"
-WED. DEC 18-
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