Hip-hop highs: Long on lyrics, short on rehab
"And to the kids drugs kill I'm acknowledging that / But when I'm on the drugs I don't have a problem with that." - Lil Wayne, "Live From 504"
3/25/2013, 5:50 p.m.
There has been no information released about how the rapper has pleaded to the charge. The rapper's manager, David Weintraub, denied in a statement to CNN that Too Short had drugs on him at the time of his arrest. "Any assertion that Short was carrying powder is ridiculous! Every rap fan knows Short's into weed!," the statement said.
Rapper Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion in homage to the Rastafarian culture) has been a well-known marijuana user. VH1's reality show "Love and Hip Hop" highlighted rapper Joe Budden's addiction and relapse after years of sobriety.
"My two demons are real simple, drugs and depression," Budden told the Combat Jack radio show in December. "They go hand in hand with one another."
Such openness about mental health issues -- and the self-medication that illegal drugs can provide -- has historically not always been the case in the African-American culture.
"The African American community generally has a certain amount of circumspection as it pertains to psychiatry and mental health, and reasonably so," said Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew on Call."
"(Those medical disciplines) have ill-served that community historically, and there's a certain amount of distrust, and you can't do this work without absolute trust," he said. "There's also a lack of embrace of things like 12-step (programs) and the idea that these are long-term propositions to get better from."
That historical reticence -- coupled with a life of fame that often finds celebs of all races surrounded by entourages who may not be willing to offer tough love -- can contribute to the issue.
"There's also a cultural insulation," Pinsky said "They don't want to change, like many addicts and musicians."
Rap artist DMX appeared on Pinsky's show "Dr. Drew's Lifechangers" in 2011 and said he began using drugs at the age of 14, and the wealth he acquired accelerated his drug use. According to Billboard, the rapper has had dozens of arrests, and as of 2010 they tallied 26 convictions -- 11 felonies and 15 misdemeanors. Some of those have included drug charges.
Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine, told CNN that some rappers have now moved well beyond drinking and smoking marijuana. Hall said he believes "the casual drugs are different now."
"Now we have pills, now we also have Molly (the crystal or powder form of the drug MDMA), and I would say to the late 2000s, we also had the ecstasy rush," Hall said. "So we're dealing with different levels of drugs that are now being considered recreational, which is a very dangerous situation."
A long history in the music business
"I can mingle with the stars and throw a party on Mars / I am a prisoner, locked up behind Xanax bars" - Lil Wayne, "Feel Like Dying"
But journalist and San Francisco State adjunct professor Davey D said drugs have long been a problem in the music industry as a whole, not just hip-hop. Artists referencing drugs goes back as far as jazz star Cab Calloway's "Reefer Man" in 1932, and use has been well-known on down through rockers like Kurt Cobain and others who suffered overdoses.