Photograph by @MightyMuds
Kahlee raps about the destructive power of social media.
I see the devil in reflections of my phone screen/cause social media’s our vitamins and protein/ Addicted to the dopamine, rush from the scrolls/ Depression and anxiety from internet trolls...
So goes the hook to the “Devil in the Phone Screen” rap-track. “The hook applies in the sense that social media sets a precedent for the youth, and a lot of rappers promote a specific type of drug use,” Kahlee310 explained on January 11. He and beatmaker Innate uploaded their song on various streaming music services just two days prior.
“It used to be about alcohol and weed. Now it’s popping pills and lean [a fusion of soda and prescribed cough syrup]. Whether you’re an avid rap listener or an aspiring artist.”
Then there is heroin, which was reportedly mixed with cocaine in 2013 and killed Chris Kelly from the ’90s Kris Kross rap-duo.
“I see the devil...”
San Diego County had 124 heroin deaths in 2019, a bump from the 105 reported deaths the year prior, according to a County of San Diego November report headlined “Fentanyl, Prescription Drug Deaths Increase in San Diego County.”
The late Mac Miller once headlined at the Observatory North Park in 2016. In 2018, the “One Last Thing” rapper reportedly accidentally overdosed on “fentanyl, ethanol, and cocaine” and “died of mixed drug toxicity,” according to the toxicology report.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, was the cause of 151 deaths in our county in 2019 compared to the 92 deaths reported the year before, said the November report. While 275 deaths occurred in 2019 due to prescription drugs — opioids and non-opioids — up from 245 the year prior.
In 2019, San Diego hip-hop heads transitioned from bobbin’ heads to rapper-Juice Wrld’s “Lucid Dreams” to bowing heads and mourning the 21-year-old rapper’s death, which was allegedly caused by ingesting Percocet pain pills.
“Some people feel they need to imitate what’s hot to be a part of the culture,” says Kahlee, “so they overindulge in drug use leading to anything from unproductivity to death.”
Mainstream hip-hop heads dying via overdosing goes back. Rapper and singer Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli reportedly battled drug addiction before his 1998 death in Germany which was attributed to booze and prescription drugs. In 2004, Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan was said to have died of an accidental overdose of a mixture of “coke and a prescribed opioid.”
Kahlee310, the Mira Mesa-based host of Dash Radio hip-hop show BarsWeekly, recalls, “I came up with a few artists who got stuck on pills, to the point that when I had a bad back, my homie wouldn’t give me any painkillers ’cause he didn’t want me to get hooked the way some of our mutual rap friends were. I have a close friend who was dropped from his label over his addiction to various pain killers.”
In my network, the musicians said that they’d snorted coke back in the day to stay focused and binge produce. Others said drugs attracted groupies as they opened up for bigger acts.
“Another known emcee and label owner I toured with lost his empire and almost died over his opioid abuse,” Kahlee recalls.
San Diego County wants to help via “prevention and treatment services throughout the region,” said the November report. “Preventing drug misuse and getting people into treatment is one of the goals of the County’s Live Well San Diego vision.”