Pop That: Is Hip-Hop's Fascination With Molly Over? - DJBooth

Pop That: Is Hip-Hop's Fascination With Molly Over?

Hip-hop don't rap about Molly no more.
Author:
Publish date:
molly-tabs.jpg

Oh, Molly. It feels like just yesterday we couldn't go more than few hours without you being mentioned in rap records. From Mac Miller casually describing your use at house parties to Kanye referencing you at after parties to Rick Ross' infamously casual reference, it suddenly seemed like Molly was everywhere. Gucci, Wiz, 2 Chainz, even Jay Z couldn't keep Molly of out his mouth

And then, suddenly, Molly disappeared.

Once simply a name for white girls from the suburbs, the moniker took on a markedly different connotation over the last decade or so as rave culture bled into festival culture which bled into hip-hop culture and it damn-near swallowed us all alive in the process. But like so many waves before it, hip-hop's fascination with the "pure" upper has died as quickly as it came, dust in the wind if you will.

Image placeholder title

By consulting Genius' RapStats tool, we see that since about early 2009, hip-hop music started to see a marked influx in usage of the word, an obvious nod to the emergence of "pure" MDMA on the national conscious. There's a distinctly exponential curve, up until around 2011, when Molly seemed to settle into day-to-day usage. It was around this time, between 2011 and 2014, that the reference would see its highest usage, before leveling off considerably in the last year or so. 

Who knows what lead to its demise in popular rap culture. The shortened attention span of iPhone-wielding Millenials? Rick Ross' awkward bars about using it to rape a girl? Madonna pimping its youthfulness to her benefit for her MDNA release? There's no clear answer as to why the drug has fallen off in the hip-hop world, but it can't be a bad thing. If this is truly the end of the road for Molly's recent run through the ranks, it's been a fairly solid one for the illegal narcotic. As far as drugs favored by the club and hip-hop worlds, Molly has come out somewhat rosy when compared to similar vices like lean, cocaine and Xanax, which have actively taken the lives of several high-profile names in and out of rap music. It's effect on the genre can't be ignored though.

Molly itself is simply a repurposing of the Ecstasy craze of the late '90s. Re-packaged as the seemingly "pure" version of the drug, categorized as MDMA, that first found a foothold with the underground rave culture, Molly took the world by storm between 2008 and 2011, popping up with increased frequency by the year and perhaps peaking during the EDM-drenched years that were 2011 and '12. Crossover works from acts like Steve Aoki and Waka Flaka Flame and the prevalence of rappers in festival atmospheres during that time led to an influx of Molly references during the year or so that EDM really hit. It was then that we got Danny Brown's "Die Like A Rockstar" ("Bitch I wanna party like Chris Farley/Shot of Hennessy spike that with some molly"), French Montana's "Pop That" ("Pop a Molly, bust it open") as well as a litany of street-level raps glorifying MDMA spurred on by the rise of drill. It was a run that was at once a quick onslaught and a sudden drop off that appears to be going the way of bling, throwback jerseys and ringtone-ready raps.

While Molly seems to be slowly but surely fading from the popular rap culture, drugs like lean, coke and weed are still enjoying their time in the sun, the former glorified more than ever with the recent onslaught of Future and syrup-toting contemporaries. While the Promethazine, Codeine cough syrup and Sprite cocktail continues to go the way of Quaaludes, it seems as though the appeal of the club drug Molly has either found its place amongst the busy drug cabinet of hip-hop references or played itself out already, an example of Millenial hyper-focus.

To be sure, MDMA has been a consistent player in rap music for awhile now. The more scary predecessor of Molly came cut with who-knows-what, the effects of which were a constant theme in early Eminem tracks, himself having come of age in the shadow of Detroit's blossoming rave and dance scenes. However this specific instance of the drug appears to have damn near disappeared from many rapper's tongues, going the way of "on fleek" and many other internet-savvy trends. Eminem's tales of Ecstasy use often detailed snarled backbones, an alarming loss of spinal fluid and other horrifying tales that made the drug seem overbearing, maybe too much fun. In contrast, Molly has been approached much differently, Kanye mentioned it in his verse on "Blood On The Leaves" as if it were a sort of ambivalent coming of age benchmark: "When you tried your first Molly/And came outta your body." Hell, Trinidad Jame$ staked damn near his whole career on the fact that it made folks sweaty.

For whatever reason, perhaphs because she was the most famous "nice" white girl hovering around the rap world, Miley Cyrus found herself as a central theme to many of the Molly references that popped up between the heightened years of 2010-2013. Migos' "Hannah Montana" might prove to be the quintessential song of the Molly days, deftly including another flavor of the month (Cyrus) for a perfect viral hit. Kid Ink's "Molly Cyrus" wasn't quite as succesful but underlines the sort of influence the young pop star has had on that realm. Her new look sporting "PLUR-istic" bright colors, body paint and pasties plays right into the kind of utopian ideas you'll find around twenty-somethings with oversized pupils deep in Bonaroo. Whatever the reason, the Molly wave definitely entered the world with electronic dance music and seems to be leaving with similar frequency. At a time when Complex CEO Rich Antoniello is closing outlets like Dancing Astronaut because of the sharp fall-off in the genre, the drug that rode that wave side by side appears doomed to nostalgic wonderment.

The thing about Molly though is that it's not outwardly scary. The name itself is markedly less intense than many of its contemporaries and outside of overheating at festivals or typical overdoses, the drug hasn't had the kind of stigma attached to it as, say cocaine or cough syrup, which have had direct ties to the deaths of plenty of acts over the years. Instead, Molly/MDMA has largely been approached as a sort of also-ran, something additional to add to your night out, but also a sort of lower tier if you will. This is not to say that Molly is safe in any way; the best way to not die from drugs is not do them. But comparatively, Molly has had a sort of Four Loko moment that appears to be dissipating.

Regardless of where the references to MDMA evolve from this point, it's impossible to ignore the impact the drug has had on the hip-hop world during its strong yet brief run through the ranks and its eventual fall from the lofty consistency of weed, alcohol and more of rap's finer talking points. Perhaps fittingly, ILoveMakonnen predicted the end with his thinly veiled single "I Don't Sell Molly No More" when he rapped: "I don't sell molly no more/I keep the white and the green/And it gotta be a pint if you looking for the lean."

Indeed Makonnen. Indeed.

[By Jake Krez, who's danced with Molly once or twice. Follow him on Twitter. Image via DEA.]

Related