However, Black people have been utilizing an unhealthy concoction, imbibing it in lethal doses to enhance their strip club and partying experiences for the better part of 20 years that might have contributed to felonious behavior at social gatherings.
Once, the contents of this beverage where a closely guarded secret among the Black communities Hip-Hop power-brokers (reminiscent of Willy Wonka), but the secret formula to a sugary nirvana couldn’t be contained forever. And thus, the world became aware of Purple Drank:
Purple drank is a slang term for a recreational drug popular in the hip hop community in the southern United States. Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine. Cough syrup is typically mixed with ingredients such as 7Up soft drink and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. The purplish hue of purple drank comes from dyes in the cough syrup.
Purple Drank is a magical potion inducing a momentary – hallucinatory – glimpse of heaven with every swallow and has been an essential, indispensable amalgamation that has enabled Black people to perfect the idea of Blacking Out.
Allusions to Purple Drank are omnipresent in rap lyrics (perhaps a reason for gangsta rap going soft?) and are increasingly becoming a problem for the NFL, a league already hindered with continual personnel tribulations:
‘Purple drank’ has been quietly growing in popularity the last decade. Now it’s reached the NFL. JaMarcus Russell was arrested for possession of codeine syrup, a key ingredient in purple drank. The concoction: typically codeine and the antihistamine promethazine, mixed with Sprite or 7Up and Jolly Ranchers or other hard candy. Former NFL player Marcellus Wiley doesn’t believe consumption is widespread within the league, ”but obviously I think it’s picking up some steam.” ”It doesn’t have the negative connotation it should, the same negative connotation there is with crack cocaine or heroin,” said Wiley, an ESPN analyst. ”People think of this purple drank as kind of a cool thing. Because people think it’s cool, it invades that mentality, invades that culture, without alerting people to the dangers of it.” Dr. Ronald Peters knows purple drank – also called sip-sip, syrup or lean – is hardly limited to the cultures of hip-hop or pro sports. He remembers a decade or so ago visiting inner-city schools in Houston, where teachers were wondering why kids were so drowsy or what were they doing passing around purplish liquid-filled Sprite bottles one sip at a time. ”They kept talking about codeine-promethazine,” said Peters, an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Service Center in Houston. ”You would go to schools and, literally, kids were falling asleep. I spoke to teachers and they asked why are kids falling asleep in the classroom? Why are eight people drinking from one Sprite bottle?”
Purple Drank might be a convenient way to quench ones thirst, but the consequence of prolonged exposure to the beverage have an unsavory effect that no one introducing it to their mouth could ever contemplate:
Purple drank is confirmed or suspected to have caused the deaths of several prominent users. Respiratory depression is a potentially serious or fatal adverse drug reaction associated with the use of codeine, but mainly the danger lies in the much more potent and CNS–depressing phenothiazine-related antihistamine promethazine. This depression is dose-related and is the mechanism for the potentially fatal consequences of overdose: respiratory or cardiac arrest. As with most CNS depressants, mixing with alcohol greatly increases the risk of respiratory failure and other complications. DJ Screw, who popularized the codeine-based drink, died of a codeine-promethazine-alcohol overdose on November 16, 2000, several months after the video to Three 6 Mafia’s single debuted.Big Moe, a DJ Screw protegé whose albums City of Syrup and Purple World were based on the drink and who has been described as having “rapped obsessively about the drug,” died at age 33 on October 14, 2007, after suffering a heart attack one week earlier that left him in a coma. There was speculation that purple drank may have contributed to his death. Pimp C, widely influential Port Arthur, Texas rapper and a member of rap duo UGK, was found dead on December 4, 2007, at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California. The Los Angeles County Coroner‘s office reported that the rapper’s death was “due to promethazine/codeine effects and other unestablished factors.” Ed Winter, assistant chief of the coroner‘s office, said the levels of the medication were elevated, but not enough to deem the death an overdose. However, Pimp C had a history of sleep apnea, a condition that causes one to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. A spokesman for the coroner’s office said that the combination of sleep apnea and cough medication probably suppressed Pimp C’s breathing long enough to bring on his death.
Yet another reason why saving money for the future is looked upon with disdain in the Black community as ingestion of Purple Drank in large quantities is the first step down a dark path that can lead to only eventuality.
“Purple drank” first gained notoriety in the South, particularly in Houston. The Houston Chronicle quoted local rapper Al D in 2007 as saying, in part, “When I was drinking ‘drank,’ I wasn’t thinking about what it could be doing to my health. I’m 180 pounds and, when I was on ‘drank,’ I was 240. It (has) so much sugar in it that it blows you up, and it makes you eat a lot, and then you got the soda.” The mixture is dangerous, doctors say, because of the powerful nature of codeine coupled with alcohol. “Your brain forgets to ‘breathe,’ ” said Houston-area plastic surgeon Joe Perlman. “It numbs you.” The explosion of internet labs has made accessibility to prescription-based drugs without genuine medical need more pervasive, he said. Codeine syrup requires a prescription. In Russell’s case, police said they did not find a prescription for the drug when they arrested him.
The doldrums of Black life can only be lifted with the careful mixing of ingredients to create the ultimate Purple Drank, regardless of well-established consequences of such consumption.
Though numerous musical hits have been produced that serve as odes to the Purple Drank, countless lives have been impacted negatively by perpetual sips of the syrup.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes Purple Drank hangovers, for the sugar rush contained in each illegal drink has the function of turning real-life Black athletes/rappers into bloated, addicted Violet’s (who don’t turn violet, Violet, but they do gain weight).
And yet, like an Ode to a Grecian Urn the tributes to Purple Drank continue unabated from the Black community despite the deleterious effects of the beverage.