Drug References in Country Music

by: Andrea Domanick

Contrary to your mother’s concerns, rap mentions drugs the least out of any genre, according to a new study.

Following our theory that Drake doesn’t have a clue about smoking weed, today we bring you some cold, hard science to back it up (maybe). A new study from Addictions.com about drugs in music has found that, contrary to your mother’s concerns, rap is the genre least likely to reference drugs. As it turns out, country features the most drug mentions, the bulk of which we assume can be attributed to Willie Nelson’s catalog.

Of the eight genres analyzed, country took the top slot—and by no small margin—followed by jazz, pop, electronic, rock, “other,” folk, and rap. The study also found that drug mentions in music overall are on the wane, with a big spike in the mid-00s followed by a sharp decline since 2013.

“I think there was a huge drug culture in the 90s that was blossoming into rap music that simply isn’t as big as it once was,” Addiction.com data scientist Logan Freedman told Newsweek. “It’s really amazing, I think because marijuana has become more normalized in our culture, a lot of country artists are singing about it more often than ever.” Nice.

Rappers do, however, make up many of the top 20 artists who most frequently mention drugs. Kottonmouth Kings take the top slot, with 344 references to, you guessed it, weed, and 440 references overall. Other heavy hitters (heh) include Lil Wayne, with 247 references, Eminem with 305, The Game with 285, and Insane Clown Posse, with 167 mentions.

Researchers conducted the study by scraping lyrics from 1.41 million tracks in the Song Meanings API database, examining drug mentions, type, and how those changed over time. Some of the slang terms they scanned for include: Acid, adderall, addy, ativan, bars, blotter, blow, blues, blunt, bud, buddha, chronic, cid, cocaine, coke, crack, crank, dank, dope, dose, doses, dro, ecstasy, gak, h, heroin, hydro, ice, joint, key, lean, lortab, LSD, lucy, Marijuana, MDMA, meth, methamphetamine, microdot, molly, morphine, oxy, oxycontin, perc, Percocet, Percocets, piff, pill, pot, powder, purp, Promethazine, roxy, speed,sizzurp, spliff, syrup, tab, tabs, tar, tweak, upper, Valium, vicodin, weed, white, x, and Xanax.

It’s interesting stuff, but it’s also worth noting that at multiple points the study appears to make some dubious, at best, suggestions about a connection between drug mentions in music and actual drug abuse: “If we consider art as developing downstream from culture, it’s very easy to see how musicians are becoming more direct and vocal about such habits. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drug use saw an 8.2 percent increase between 2002 and 2013 in the United States alone.”

:::Thinking face emoji::: So, maybe take all this with a grain of bath salt (just kidding, please don’t do bath salts).

Andrea Domanick is Noisey’s West Coast Editor. Follow her on Twitter

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