A Closer Look at the Rap Industry’s Obsession with Lean
The addictive drink has origins in Houston, T.X. where some artists, including rapper Big Hawk claim that the drug has been in use for recreational purposes since the 1960s. Despite this Purple Drank didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1990s, mainly because of producer DJ Screw and other popular artists from Houston.
Subsequently, its usage began to spread throughout the southern United States, becoming cornerstone of southern rap culture along with the chopped and screwed style of music that also originated in Houston. In June of 2000, Three 6 Mafia released the single “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” featuring Houston’s own Pimp C and Bun B who formed UGK (short for Underground Kingz). Together, they helped introduce Purple Drank to a nationwide audience and set the pace for southern rappers to glamorize the indulgence of this dangerous mixture.
Since the dawn of the millennium, the popularity of Purple Drank has continued to rise thanks to rappers like Eminem, T.I., Rick Ross, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, and Future, who have verbalized their relationships with Lean. There are even songs released by these artists and others in which the entire focus of the song is on the recreational use of the prescription drug. Example’s of these songs include “I’m On One” by DJ Khaled, Feat. Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, “Drank In My Cup” by Kirko Bangz, and “Me and My Drank” by Lil Wayne, just to name a few.
Consumed out of white, Styrofoam cups, the drink which sells for $300 to $600 per pint, has spread outside of the rap community to urban and suburban areas including colleges and high schools.
This is dangerous given that the side effects of Purple Drank includes dizziness and drowsiness. It slows down the heart rate and suppresses the respiratory system and when used often or mixed with other drugs like alcohol or ecstasy, the results can be fatal. As if this is not enough, the rap community has even lost great talents as a result of the frequent use of this drug. Pimp C (member of UGK), DJ Screw, and Big Moe (a DJ Screw protégé) all passed away after heavy usage of the drug.
With its constant appearances in rap videos and verses, it is apparent that this drug will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. If one thing is certain however, the rap community needs to put a cap on this drug before it claims even more lives.