Why A-Trak's well-intentioned Huffington Post editorial misses the mark on the genre's "psychedelic" phase
On Monday, DJ and producer A-Trak published, "A License to Pill," a Huffington Post editorial on the pernicious effects of mainstream hip-hop's full-stop embrace of molly, lean, and other "trippy" drugs. "Rap went from glorifying selling hard drugs to glamorizing their effects," A-Trak writes, "And beneath the surface there may be a profound lack of understanding of these substances." What A-Trak says has been bubbling under the surface of mature hip-hop discourse for awhile now. Namely, that this molly trend — which isn't exactly new, as SPIN's "Rolling in the Deep: Hip-Hop's Greatest Molly Moments" pointed out, but still — has hit a fever pitch after the "Popped a molly, I'm sweatin'" meme (via Trinidad James' "All Gold Everything"). And what's more, everyone seems to fundamentally misunderstand the drug they're hard-selling as hip.
A-Trak's piece is refreshingly reasonable. In particular, his theory that hip-hop has entered its "psychedelic phase" is just excellent music criticism from a guy who looks at this stuff second-to-second (which is how rap must be followed in 2013) and intuitively grasps every micro-trend. Also, he's bold enough to implicate himself and not wiggle out of it. His label Fool's Gold is, after all, the home of "Adderall Admiral" Danny Brown, and works closely with "We trippy mane"-screaming rapper Juicy J. As A-Trak himself admits, "As I write this, I am trying to sign a group with a song called "Bath Salts" and an album titled "D.R.U.G.S."