Disclaimer: You shouldn’t do drugs. Unless you’ve got a cold and you need some Nyquil or something. Then that’s ok. But weed will kill you. Immediately.
There’s no question that drugs have permeated every aspect of our culture, the music industry being no different. The use, distribution and effects of drugs have been sensationalized in music on and off the radio to the point where drug use is almost expected. So the question that comes out of this assertion is: Just how important are drugs to the music industry?
One of the more popular reasons for smoking marijuana, which is possibly the most used recreational drug, is for heightening the user’s ability to think creatively. Most famously, you can find this in The Beatles’ music. Cannabis had a profound impact on The Beatles’ songwriting and composition, and this band’s prolificity would be a key player in the myriad bands that have formed since the inception of The Beatles. Historically, drugs, specifically cannabis in this case, have played large roles in the popularization of rock and roll music. Had Ringo Starr and John Lennon never experimented with marijuana or LSD they might have never written a “Yellow Submarine”- or “Sgt. Pepper”-level work.
The genres most profoundly affected by the absence of drugs would more than likely be rap and hip-hop. It comes as no surprise that the best artists are those who are the most experienced in all walks of life, and those same great artists that gravitate towards rap and hip-hop often have some experience in drug use and distribution circles.
The first example that comes to mind being ScHoolboy Q. ScHoolboy Q is a Los Angeles native and member of the Top Dawg Entertainment collective alongside Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul. ScHoolboy Q’s music is characterized by his vivid images and storytelling that puts you in the passenger seat beside him as he drives down the 105 looking for a place to sell because, “My daughter need some shoes / And my mom work overtime.” ScHoolboy Q’s daughter proves to be his main driving force, evidenced in the song “Prescription/Oxymoron,” where Q details the love/hate relationship he has with taking prescription drugs. But instead of a traditional hook breaking up his verses, recordings of his daughter serve as a constant reminder as to why he is selling drugs and why he ultimately needs to work hard enough to remove himself and his family from their situation. That got a little depressing. Here’s a video where a very white Pete Holmes interviews ScHoolboy Q about weed and stuff.
From heightening your creative ability to being a method of escape in some situations, drugs are an incredibly prominent piece of our culture. In the case of The Beatles, drugs helped redefine what pop and rock and roll music can be. The case with ScHoolboy Q, though, is that he has always had drugs in his life, which is also the case with hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. Marijuana, LSD, alcohol and a slew of others have helped to shape the world of music we currently know, whether it be in content, composition or subject matter.
Stay Trippy and have a fantastic Tuesday.