Kendrick Lamar is hip-hop’s latest conscious lyricist. He spends as much time tackling colorism through his music videos as he does painting vivid images of his childhood in Compton, Calif. Now the good kid, m.A.A.d. city MC is embarking on a divergent path from his rapping brethren. Lamar is opting to condemn the emergence of Molly in hip-hop rather than embracing the craze.
Molly is “a powdered form of MDMA, the molecular compound found in Ecstasy, and it’s often laced with other highly addicted drugs” according to Fox News. Molly is considered a social drug, since it is often used at parties and other gatherings. It is also extremely dangerous.
Dr. Ken Bachrach, the clinical director of Tarzana Treatment Centers, said Molly is dangerous because it can be laced with potentially-fatal drug concoctions.
“It can be cut with everything from talcolm powder, heroin, it could be cut with anything,” he said.
In recent months, Molly has infiltrated hip-hop, appearing in the lyrics of several influential rappers including Kanye West and Rick Ross. It is being depicted as a harmless party drug without real-world consequences.
Lamar sees it differently. His latest video “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe” highlights his perspective when “Death to Molly” flashes across the screen at the end of the clip. He thinks it’s time for hip-hop to divorce Molly in order to preserve the integrity of the culture.
“When everybody consciously now uses this term or this phrase and putting it in lyrics, it waters the culture down,” Lamar explained in an interview with MTV News. “So it’s really just time to move on.”
Lamar understands the influence of hip-hop and how it impacts communities of color. He recalls watching Jay-Z’s transition from jerseys to button-ups and emulating his hip-hop forefather’s fashion choice. Lamar – also known as K.Dot – sees a similar movement happening with Molly, but thinks the promotion of drug use is regressive.
“Sometimes you have the trends that’s not that cool,” Lamar explained. “You may have certain artists portraying these trends and don’t really have that lifestyle and then it gives off the wrong thing. And it becomes kinda corny after a while.”
Lamar was careful with his wording. He didn’t pinpoint the introduction of Molly in hip-hop on a singular figure, but the origins of the drug’s mention can be traced directly to Atlanta, Ga. rapper Trinidad James.
James’ successful debut single, “All Gold Everything,” included the viral phrase, “Popped a Molly, I’m sweating.” Since the rapper’s line, Molly has been rampant in the hip-hop culture. However, James takes no responsibility for the impact of the drug.
In a recent interview with XXL, the Def Jam-signed MC spoke about the dangers of recreational drug use.
“Honestly man, life is based on moderation. Anything that you do, you have to do it in moderation,” he said. “People overdo it and it turns into people OD’ing or dying, but it’s all about how extreme you go with it.”
He continued, “Some artists have made some of their most incredible music on drugs, so for me to say that drugs are messing up hip-hop, I’m not going to say that. It’s just that some people really believe so much of what we say, and people honestly don’t understand moderation.”
Referencing Molly has had detrimental consequences for artists. Rick Ross was terminated from his Reebox endorsement after promoting the usage of Molly to date rape an unsuspecting victim in fellow rapper Rocko’s song “U.O.E.N.O.”
However, endorsing drug usage has also been paid off for some MCs. In an opinion piece for the Huffington Post, A-Trak – a DJ and record label owner – spoke of the dilemma he faces as a non-drug user promoting drug usage.
One can’t deny that the current climate of trippy and experimental mainstream rap has coincided with the breaking down of geographic and sexual prejudices in a notoriously territorial and homophobic culture.
That said, the closer I get drawn into it, the more I tend to wonder whether I am just enjoying this music from a safe arm’s length as I silently endorse it? Is there any hypocrisy in the fact that I, clearly not an advocate of drug use, made a track with Juicy J and Danny called “Piss Test”? We don’t appreciate rap songs based on the moral value of their lyrics, but rather on their artistic merit. Danny and Juicy are part of a long tradition of great, unhinged rap. Yet for all the talk about syrup and Molly, it seems like we’re only being exposed to a partial, romanticized account. Rap went from glorifying selling hard drugs to glamorizing their effects. And beneath the surface there may be a profound lack of understanding of these substances.
Lamar has no interest in Molly and hopes other rappers will follow his lead.
“It’s really about keeping hip-hop original and pushing away the corniness in it,” he concluded.