Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sippin' on Some Syrup: Hip Hop's New Drug of Choice

Perhaps this is an old discussion, but I happened to watch Lil' Wayne's VH1 Behind the Music episode and I could not help but think: Are that many people really using cough syrup to get high? And, if so, why? The "sizzurp" discussion really began with Three 6 Mafia's song Sippin' on Some Syrup (video above), which achieved some success although the video was short-lived on BET and MTV. Hip-hop has often and unfortunately been tied with recreational drug culture, as many music genres have over the years. I don't know if hip-hop artists exhibit higher levels of use than non-hip-hop community members. I would be willing to hypothesize that the constant association of hip-hop with drugs is part of a desire for mainstream media to malign hip-hop. That, however, is a whole different discussion.

With people now drinking combinations of cough syrup and soda (and a Jolly Rancher depending on your recipe), how does this change law enforcement's policing of recreational drug use? The "syrup" involved is prescription strength and contains codeine, a Schedule II drug. There are serious addictive consequences to "sippin'." My guess is that because codeine-containing drugs are not sold over the counter in the United States, many syrup concoctions use over-the-counter versions with no codeine, but a healthy amount of alcohol. Cough syrups range from 2.5 to 25 percent alcohol. And you thought that fuzzy navel you were drinking was addictive?

MSNBC reports that one in every 14 high school seniors has used cold medicine to get high. That seems high, not because I think high school students are not involved in all sorts of risky behavior, but because... well... it's cough medicine. I guess stealing your dad's bottle of whiskey isn't cool anymore. It has been well-reported that alcoholics will use cough syrup and mouthwash to satisfy their desire for drink, so perhaps it really isn't shocking that we see individuals engaged in this behavior. It's really not a new trend. What is law enforcement to do? Check everyone's cup like the breakup of a bad college party? Ignore the precocious syrup drinkers? Take cough syrup in any form off the shelf?

Most of us remember when Sudafed was pulled off the shelves because it contained psuedoephedrine, which could be converted into methamphetamine. Although the makers of Sudafed, Pfizer/Warner-Lambert, were able to find a drug to replace psuedoephedrine, apparently the original version can still be found (I don't read labels that closely to say more.). Is that what will become of cough syrup? Will this spur innovation in drug making or be ignored because it only effects "those hip-hop artists?"

So where do we see this syrup trend going? What might law enforcement do if anything? What is the government's role in regulating these types of practices?

-- Nick J. Sciullo

(Video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Little Country Goldilocks Mouse and the Big Bad Black Rapper Who Could

By P.D. Bridgewater

Well, it’s on and poppin’ - yes? Seems like I came back from sabbatical just in time to offer a few random (and sometimes rambling) musings about the drama from the VMAs on Sunday.

First off, I know the title to this entry is silly. Not only am I mixing up my fairy tales it’s a cheap appeal to the big black mean man and the innocent golden haired white woman motif but these themes have proven to be unavoidable in this situation.

Ok, real talk: I’m finding it harder and harder not to get in on some of the crazy action. Why, I asked myself after Kanye's weird but funny blog entry Sunday night, is everybody acting(?) so crazy this summer.

Just in case you haven't heard about the latest crazy action, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Video – the first award of the evening. I didn’t watch it live (I would have had to be in the audience to do that) nor did I watch it with Kanye who saw it on TV with everybody else (I dont own a TV) but I “heard” about it via Facebook when all of my FBPEEPS started registering their disgust. At first, no one bothered to mention what he did - they just said that West was ignorant or that he had gone too far this time, or that he should be ashamed. I finally found out that ‘Ye had bounded onstage, took the mic from Taylor Swift and said some foolishness about B’s video being the best of all time (has he not heard of Thriller?). All of this happened as Swift was expressing her surprise that she, a country singer, was selected by these big city folks for this honor.

The whole story – from beginning to end – was hilarious to me. In fact, I LOL’d. I was even more amused when I read Kanye’s rushed and disingenuous apology where he said that Swift’s mother had said what his mom would have said had somebody did that to him. He ended it, though, by saying that although he was sorry, he had to do it! So, just like when he was on stage with Swift, he was still mixing irreverence with a dab of politeness – I loved it! A perfect example of righteous indignation of an artist splashed with hip hop and high tech highlights!

I wasn’t mad at ‘Ye nor was I shocked – West has a history of award show shenanigans. And despite all that I think Kanye is a very smart hip hop artist who, as his mother’s only child - a boy child- was spoiled and encouraged to speak his mind. From his lyrics and behavior Kanye has been telling us for years that he has an ego fueled by talent and nurtured (and indulged) by his mother. So when he performs true to form – I appreciate the man-child's consistency. I was alone in my appreciation for Kanye last night. Even my attempt to temper criticism by reminding my FBPEEPS that this was the same spontaneous young man who spoke truth to power while many (most?) of us were still dazed and confused after the Bush/Brownie debacle during and after hurricane Katrina in 2005. No one bought it so I went to bed.

I woke Monday morning with my stayed on Kanye - but my mind had changed. No, I had not joined the chorus of Kanye critics (to which the POTUS has apparently has added his voice). I woke with a nagging feeling that all of us had been duped – that the event on the stage had been, well, staged. B’s quick and well articulated generosity and Swift's poise were at the core of suspicion although larger socio- (pop) cultural dynamics were at play as well.

Here's the theory I posted on FB Monday afternoon:

“Kanye clowns the young blonde who won best female video award at the VMAs on MTV. He can do it cuz, well, young black men do what they pleez in the US especially w/ young blondes. K? k. so the blonde youngun sings instead of cries (since when?) then...B wins a bigger award! The next nite Kanyeezy is on Jay Leno's debut wch wz expectd to fail but doesnt cuz we tune in to see Jay ask 'Ye abt the VMAs! mmmmmk?”

The responses showed varying degrees of hostility towards Kanye’s antics – whether staged or not. Since my earlier posting, my suspicions have all but been confirmed by me. First, one of my FBPEEPS brought up the fact that rather than the shimmering shiny frock Taylor Swift wore when she accepted the award, she wore the same material as Beyonce during her performance. This new wrinkle makes me wonder why we even bother with MTV if we suspect that, like last year’s staged disruption, they thought it wise in this climate of hostility directed toward "uppity" black men (as in like Obama, Holder, Gates, Van Jones, now West) to have this particular trope played out.

Tempers have been running hot this summer and I had hoped Serena WIlliams' outburst at the US Open would mark the end of the summer of temper tantrums and "town hall moments" but, alas it was not to be. The crazies are spewing their venom all over twitter and beyond. ck out There you will find a cogent discussion of racist tweets using the word N*GG*R (asterisks added), the racist post that all suggest lynching West and the racist violent ones that have a common them re: putting various items in Kanye’s ass. Equally disturbing where the black folks saying that Kanye’s conduct had set black folks back 50 years. (I wonder how many years his recent collaboration on with Drake on “Poke(H)er Face” took us back).

Enter President Obama who after an interview on health care reform calls ‘Ye a jackass – but off the record in case he wants to bum a Newport from him or have him perform again at an inauguration in Jan. 2013. (note to POTUS: stop commenting on dumb shit! First Gates gate now West Gate). ck it out:

Finally, I read that after saying he was soooo sorry, Kanye, Rhianna and Jay-Z performed masterfully together on Jay Leno’s show.

ck it out at

Well all I know is that my nagging feeling earlier this morning and the developments throughout the day have me appreciating Mr. West Mr. West Mr. West less and less. If the whole thing was staged then he is less the impetuous, passionate, stream of consciousness devil may care, rude boy man child hip hop visionary I admire so and more like everybody else (and me) - looking to get in on the crazy action. The problem is that the present climate in the country (a la Rep. Wilson, the birthers, Glen Beck, the 9/12ers, and 'Obama is a socialist, nazi, death panelist' crazies) - the crazy action oftentimes involves racism, violence (sexual and otherwise) or greed.

Sadly, people end up getting hurt especially when, like now, it involves all three.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Technology and Hip Hop

This blog has previously discussed the impact that Twitter would have on the burgeoning social networking scene in general, predicting that Twitter would become an important tool in promoting artists and athletes and providing access never before seen. So, with the growing popularity of Twitter, the following was bound to happen: In this new age of Twitter, blogs and moment-to-moment updating access, a lawsuit has been threatened based on the content of a Twitter message sent to thousands of "following" fans.

In recent news, Mistah FAB received a cease-and-desist letter from publisher Julia Beverly after FAB posted unflattering comments about Beverly on his Twitter account. Beverly is the owner of the music publication Ozone Magazine. The comments that Mistah FAB posted on Twitter were reportedly his response to a two year old interview that Julia Beverly, owner of music publication Ozone Magazine, recently posted online. In the newly posted interview, Mistah FAB discusses his disinterest in dark-skinned women. After purportedly receiving severe backlash for this comment after the interview was posted online, Mistah FAB attacked Beverly through Twitter.

FAB referred to Beverly in derogatory terms (i.e., “b**ch” and “hoe”) also referencing her in unflattering sexual contexts, which resulted in her letter calling for the retraction of the false and defamatory statements. The letter claims that the statements by Mistah FAB on Twitter will “damage and cause irreparable harm to Ms. Beverly’s image and reputation.” While the cease and desist letter did not state when an actual lawsuit would be filed, it threatened FAB by stating that his failure to remove the statements would ultimately result in a defamation action against Mistah FAB for libel. While defamation and libel law is convoluted, particularly when it comes to celebrities, it is very likely that courts will struggle with defining traditional defamation law in the new context of social networking sites and Twitter in particular.

With the recent Tila Tequila - Shawne Merriman ordeal dominating the news, notorious Twitterer Tequila may have to use caution going forward. With a District Attorney weighing whether to file charges against Merriman for false imprisonment and battery and with Merriman denying Tequila's allegation of choking and restraining her, instead arguing that he was trying to keep her from leaving while intoxicated, what Tequila "tweets" may become a part of future court records.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Bar Exam

Artist: GZA
Song: Fame
Album: Legend of the Liquid Sword

Larry's Bird flew outta Nicholas' Cage
Joe Tex messages from Satchel's Paige
Betty Wright+letters with ink from Sean's Penn
Infinite bars, you couldn't tell where the song end
Glenn Close enough to quickly duck the tapes
Richard Gere ripped while he was climbin' Bill Gates
He was a southerner, posing as a, native New Yorker
The Jason Kidd took his first steps in Jimmy's Walker
He stayed on line chattin' with rap celebs
Used Bernie's Mack to search Veronica's Webb
It cost them their life for the advice you gave
Now Pete Rose lay on Vanessa's Redgrave

With CREAM I ain't with the fame
Fame is the measure
Rap celebs
The place where stars are born
With CREAM I ain't with the fame
Fame is the measure
Rap celebs
The place where stars are born