There’s an adage that says “when you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”
People have often used this as justification for when someone who glorifies gun use dies by gunfire. But the same can be said about excessive drug use, too.
Grammy Award-nominated hip-hop star Vic Mensa believes that his fellow rappers are doing damage to the culture with lyrics promoting Percocet and Xanax abuse and need to take responsibility for the tragic demise of Juice WRLD, who died at age 21 as a result of a drug-related seizure on Dec. 8.
“I think that as members of the hip hop community we need to take responsibility for the things that we say,” the Chicago South Side native told TMZ.
“We need to recognize that the shit we talk about influences children,” he furthered. “And so, when we steady push a message of lean, Percocets and zans, we are polluting the minds of the youth.”
Mensa, born Victor Kwesi Mensah, who’s been open about his past addiction and depression issues, says Juice WRLD’s death resonated with him and he realizes how easily that could’ve been him who died from substance abuse.
“I’ve been through drug addiction in a major way and that shit gives you perspective,” the Roc Nation rapper shared, adding that he had given more thought about how his lyrical content has impacted others.
“100 percent I thought about that because in younger times, I was definitely not feeling no responsibility to the youth or to anybody but myself... You gotta be careful of what you say because kids take what you say for real,” Mensa, 26, said. They take it as the gospel. So give them something they can use, not sh— that’s killing them.”
The 26-year-old Kids These Days founder said while hip hop can be truly authentic in its messaging, those in the culture must be more mindful when it comes to its younger fans.
“We have a responsibility to give it to them in a real way. Not to say that you can’t talk about your life and the things that are happening, but I think that we need to start holding each other and ourselves accountable for our glorification of the drug culture 100%. That’s just what it is. Anything else, that’s parasitic to our people to just act like this is the shit, to be on lean all the time.”
Juice WRLD, born Jarad Anthony Higgins, was also a native of Chicago. The rapper broke through with his hit song “Lucid Dreams.” Drug use was a constant narrative throughout his flourishing music career, which netted 25 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
In an interview with Atlanta’s HOT 107.9 radio, Higgins admitted drinking the codeine- and Xanax-fueled cocktail “lean,” a.k.a. “purple drank,” when he was in sixth grade and taking Percocet for the first time when he was 14.
“Addiction knows no boundaries and its impact goes way beyond the person fighting it,” his mother, Carmella Wallace, said in a statement—following her son’s death after suffering seizures and going into cardiac arrest during a search of his and his entourage’s luggage by law enforcement at Chicago’s Midway Airport. “Jarad was a son, brother, grandson, friend and so much more to so many people who wanted more than anything to see him defeat addiction.”