Drugs and Music I
Drug use among young adults has become something of no secret. The content of this write-up will expressly be directed towards music creators and listeners.
Few categories of songs require matured minds as to its audience. Every single individual is triggered by the music of his own choice. This is why some believe that their anger can be subdued through the songs they listen to. Individuals at times become so sensitive to music that they experience what is called ‘’Bad trip’’; these experiences, e.g. loss of self-identity, are related to one or more various hallucinogens and this usually happens when listening to music with psychedelic content. Don’t get it twisted here, there is no bad music.
It is presumed that everyone has the right sense of mind until the contrary is proven. There have been publications around the world against drug addiction. Billboards, journals, media houses kick against this but it has become something of wide increase. Study shows that teenagers listen to an average of 2.5 hours of music per day and up to 9 out of 10 teens possess audio gadget in school or at home. In recent years, we have seen top music artistes involve in drug addiction and are left in the care of rehabilitation centres. Music made out of drug influence usually affects every person involved in its production and creation.
Some believe that Drug use in music is a recent trend that possibly started in the 80s–90s, especially when new sounds started evolving. This is an issue that has been in existence for centuries. Musicians of the previous eras (19th century) were also opened to drug usage particularly the use of opium by composers like Berlioz and Chopin. Other composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bernstein used drugs like alcohol and tobacco to ease tension and for pro-activeness. I will not emphasize much on the drug and music of the early eras before the classical period.
Stanley Gortikoz, President of Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) remarked that ‘’Music reflects and mirrors a society more than it molds and directs that society’’. This will expatiate as I write on.
In the 50’s- 60’s era, most songs particularly regarding pop and rock foundation started giving out a psychedelic tune with artistes like Jimi Hendrix, Small faces and so on. The death of some of these artistes woke awareness against drug addiction. Psychedelic music according to Wikipedia has ‘a subculture of people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and DMT to experience visual and auditory hallucinations, synaesthesia and altered states of consciousness, Let me break it down this way; it is the music that affects the body system in respective ways. Effect of drug on music goes beyond the lyrical content; it touches even the production area. Journalist Al Aronowitz wrote “…whatever the Beatles did was acceptable, especially for young people. It was in the 1960s that this band started recognising the use of LSD.
The emergence of Hip hop in the ’90s further widened this issue. Black-Americans and few other groups appreciated this sound because of the honesty this genre addressed even though it was controversial. During this time, there were ‘drug pushers’ and ’drug traffickers’. A YouTuber on Hip hop analysis once acclaimed that most hip hop artistes have been convincingly able to discuss mental health but these artistes have not been able to find a valid solution to this problem in the songs they create. By mid-2010, drug culture in songs became a general norm among artistes. Songs like ‘We can’t stop the feeling’ by Miley Cyrus, ‘Diamond’ by Rihanna are few out of the honourable instances.
Personally, one particular artiste that captivates me the most in music style is American RnB artiste, ‘The Weekend’ with tracks like ‘’Can’t feel my face’’ which seems a bit complex and combines depression with emptiness. Kid Cudi’s style of singing is described as a melodic rap, off-key singing which enables him to lay his insecurities and throughout the years, his music has been psychedelic. Few other artistes like Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and few other mentions use this style.
I am trying to cite some few artistes and some songs that can be relatable but my point is, this category of sounds cannot be cleared out or banned by any regulatory authority of any country because it requires the direct mind of the listeners. If you think you can control your emotions or fall into an unusual habit when songs like these are aired, I think it would be best you stay away from such music.
LSD was declared illegal in the United Kingdom in 1966 and so many laws have been created to date on tackling issues of the drug. The right control of drugs and music starts with the direct minds of listeners and music creators. Banning a particular genre of music or enacting laws can just slightly reduce it but cannot stop it. Just compare music to a spirit; a spirit cannot be restricted and that is how music works. In Sub Saharan Africa, it is believed that issues of drug and music are not existent, however, drug and music have been a part component of African music for years and I will consider this in my next article.
The saying, “You don’t throw away a Knife because it cuts your hand, you keep it because it is still advantageous in other situations” applies here as so it is with music is. It has changed generations and it has also entertained negative traits. We can’t just discard a particular sound because of its defect; we embrace it and correct the defect. Some will definitely get hurt but it is for the greater good. You cannot restrict or hold music; you can only deal with its message bearer but as the popular afro-Hip hop artiste, Folarin Falana sang in one of his songs, “many dey kill the messenger; throw away the message”. T.I once said in an interview, ‘Hip hop has always been a reflection of the environment the artiste had to endure……If you want to change the content of the music, change the environment of the artiste so he won’t have such things to say’.
The environment a sound has grown has truncated the existence of true living and it has made music as a tool to preach further on the use of the drug.
Artistes like Whitney Houston, Prince, and many other acts experienced drugs in association with their music which has posed a threat to their life and shortened their music career span. R.I.P to present generation music creators who have followed this downhill end.
By Ogunleye Oluwakorede
Ogunleye Oluwakorede writes mainly on Entertainment, History and
Socio-economic matters. He has previously released works like album reviews and content information. He is also a music critic and analyst particularly on Nigerian music Entertainment.
LinkedIn: Oluwakorede Ogunleye