It always seemed a little odd that the phrase ‘coke rap’ mainly started to be heard around hip hop circles over the past few years. The drug which most acknowledge to have influenced the music itself most heavily is, and will probably ever be, marijuana. The weight, pace and mix of staunch masculinity, off-beat humour and surreal lyricism seemed to owe much to the drug’s influence, and most albums contain passing reference to endo, ‘dro, sticky green or any one of a thousand other euphemisms.
But when you think of coked-out music you think of ’80s hair rock and Studio
54-era disco. Hip hop’s main connection was as the people selling the drugs.
No genre in history has ever gloried in criminality like hip hop, and the main avenue out of grinding poverty and unemployment was the corner and selling cocaine in one form or another. In the mid-’90s Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Biggie, Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan all rode to the top on the back of inferences to drug dealing of varying explicitness. Since those iconic LPs, cocaine has never gone away as a source of revenue in hip hop lyricism, in some ways becoming synonymous with the ever-seductive image of the gangsta rapper, a life defined by ruthlessly climbing out of the streets into a world of limitless indulgence.