Lean on me: our drug epidemic

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While recording the latest episode of our Moving the Culture Forward Podcast, my woke ass friend EDunlevy told me about two articles on drug addiction in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

Erin is White.

Not that it matters, I just wanted to let you all know that I actually have White friends; even though I’m sure my literary attacks on Wypipo would suggest otherwise.

In fact Erin is NOT Wypipo, she’s MY people. She’s an Antiracist.


I checked out the two articles  1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours and How a ‘Perfect Storm’ in New Hampshire Has Fueled an Opioid Crisis. Each article spoke to the realities of the drug addiction that has crippled the lives of individuals in states across the country. Those communities are suffering under the weight of drug related deaths and even more individuals, who in lieu of death are living horrible lives plagued by addiction; and so the TIMES wrote these pieces because they said they wanted people to understand the realities of living with drug addiction.”

SideBar: Whose realities are we speaking of?  My dear liberal Wypipo at the NY Times! Whose stories are you deciding to shed light on and why? You know what, I’m going to come back to this later.

The times states in 1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours:

The torrent of people who have died in the opioid crisis has transfixed and horrified the nation, with overdose now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids–nearly double in a decade.

In the past 15 years our country has been reeling from a plague of drugs and drug addiction that sees no end in sight. In particular drugs opioids, either illegal or in the form of prescription painkillers are gripping the public like never before.  

Along with opiods is the classic drug, heroin a drug that in recent years has garnered renewed interest causing a dramatic rise in usage and subsequent addiction throughout the country.  

This shit is REAL. People are REALLY struggling with addiction. People are REALLY dying. And with all of this that I know in my heart to be true, I must say I honestly… REALLY and truly, don’t have a fuck to give.

NAH! That sounded mad harsh. Let me explain.

I know a generation of young Black men, many of them who may have passed through our classrooms, experimenting and becoming addicted to prescription pills and drugs like the liquid drink also known as promethazine.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Promethazine is a cough medicine combined with soda, have experienced health related issues like kidney and liver failure that can lead to death. The shit is more deadly than alcohol if you ask me, yet still more and more young people prefer this as opposed to your classical Hennessy drink. While I’ve never tried the drink or pills, I’ve been a witness to the trend slowly becoming apart of the contemporary party scene.

This month alone, Chicago drill music rapper and Chief Keef affiliate, Fredo Santana passed away due to a seizure, which many believe was brought upon by the usage of promethazine. His death shocked the internet and prompted the renewal of a internet campaign to stop using the drug.

Voices from the more established generation of rappers like Snoop Dogg and Waka Flocka spoke out to urge the youth to make better decisions in regards to drinking lean, while the younger generation and new school dudes like Dj Mustard were seen on Instagram pouring out bottles of the liquid killer as a symbol of solidarity in boycotting the poison.

Promethazine which is honestly nothing but liquid heroine, has claimed the lives of artists and other members of the hip hop community like the originators of Houston Screw Music, Dj Screw and rapper Pimp C both died from this drug between 2005-2007; and in recent years the drink later claimed the lives of stars like ASAP Yams, member of the ASAP Mobb known for members ASAP Rocky and Ferg.


One of the biggest name stars Lil Wayne has struggled with promethazine addiction. I know young dudes who drink this concoction like we consumed Henny, and it’s scary to think that this “good time” could be responsible for the loss of another generation of Black and Brown people.

“Yeah, it’s getting spooky out here
All the Nino Browns done turned Pookie out here
No cool niggas, it’s just goofies out here.”

Fabolous- F vs J intro

Currently, I have been questioning the flip in messaging in our music from drug dealer to drug user. In the golden age of hip hop they rapped about selling drugs, and now the music is filled with messages about drug abuse and addiction; young kids and rappers popping molly and percocet pills, drinking Promethazine aka lean, and experimenting with other drugs.


Our current music perpetuates this message of drug use and in its wake we have yet another generation lost, coping with the woes of drug abuse. Hell I remember when everyone blasted future for albums like Dirty Sprite 1 and Dirty Sprite 2, for glorifying lean drinking. Him and a litany of other artists are still rapping about the drink and pills. Still many are realizing the life threatening effects and are working to kick the habit like Meek Mill. 

I understand that drug abuse is an issue for all, and yet I feel compelled to focus on my own people as I do with any matter in this country.  

See I really do care about opioid and heroin addiction.

I care about drug addiction and abuse as it pertains to all individuals. But I have an issue with the media and politicians spinning a narrative that positions the suffering of Wypipo over the rest of us. I care because I’m scared of a reality that could have me attending more funerals due to the effects of drug abuse.

I don’t want to see young people dying because of this poison.

During the 80s, when Black communities struggled with addiction, we were met with judicial force, instead of the sympathy of liberal White America asking for clinical treatment and other clinical responses. Once again we are in the midst of a crisis and while my hope is that we’ll be met with help; history tells me that we have the potential to suffer the same fate from 30 plus years ago.

There are some real questions we should contemplate:

Are we having conversations about that substance abuse with our young people? In a real way that reflects more than the mandatory unit from our health curriculum?

Are we working to understand why they abuse drugs?

Are we trying to get to the root of the painful experiences that they are looking to escape?

How do we help stop drug abuse before it takes more young lives?

Any loss of life is sad and should have a light shone on it. Any issue for our country as a whole affects us all as individuals. Let’s speak to and address the reality of EVERYONE, and not just the stories of the most privileged of people.





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