Page 59

food, and not drinking water, you’re gonna have a fucked up stomach.” Paul Wall agrees, but adds, “A lot of sippers pop pills too, so it’s hard to say that it’s just lean [causing stomach problems]. People be doing a lot of other fucked up shit on top of the lean. I’ve never had no problems on the toilet or the bedroom. I only got fat because I was eating and not exercising. But, you do have a lot of people walking around with what we call the ‘drank belly.’” While there is medical information that links lean’s ingredients to weight gain, a connection to actual death is still a gray area. Plenty of medical reports state that codeine overdoses can be fatal, but it’s hard to find actual death reports outside of Screw, Moe and Pimp C, which to many are still mysteries. In a July 2005 interview with OZONE, Houston recording artist Z-Ro responded to questions about Screw’s suspected codeine overdose by saying, “Codeine is a downer… When they did the autopsy on [DJ Screw] they found some ol’ white boy speed type shit. That’s an upper… Somebody slipped something in my man’s drink that made his heart blow up from the inside.” [OZONE could not confirm this with the Harris County Coroner’s office] “A lot of people out here know the truth, but you might end up talking to the wrong people who don’t know,” says Chris Ward. “Moe used to drink [syrup] a lot but being his friend for 20 years, I can tell you that for the last two years, he didn’t drink. His mama had a stroke a year ago and he himself was overweight. He had the same [obesity] problem as Big Pun.” Big Moe suffered a heart attack in October 2007. He fell into a coma and died one week later. “Moe was like my brother. He used to drink too much, but that ain’t what killed him. The hospital killed

“[Cough syrup abuse] is a big problem in Houston because so many crooked doctors and clinics are popping up here, so its tough to crack down on it… By the time the police and medical board get around to wanting to bust these places, they are up and gone.” - Dr. Mike Leath him,” claims Ward. “They drained 100 pounds of liquid out of his body, nobody can shape their body that fast. How you just gonna change your heart rate like that? But since he was the ‘Barre Baby’ they blamed the drank. If he was calling himself the ‘Coke Baby’ they would have said that’s what killed him.” Nearly two months after Moe’s death, Pimp C was found dead in a Hollywood, CA hotel room. Media outlets originally reported he died from natural causes. But in February 2008 reports surfaced that he his death was accidental, caused by a combination of sleep apnea and an overdose of prescription cough syrup. The Houston Chronicle reported that the bottle [of cough syrup] had no label. “I wasn’t in L.A. so I don’t know exactly what happened in that room,” says Pimp’s rhyme partner and close friend Bun B. “The reality is that nobody knows either, so we just take the information from the coroner and it is what it is. But we all 58 // OZONE MAG

know that syrup in Houston is an epidemic. I’m not gonna sit here and act holier than thou about that shit. But the reality is that there are people who can do cocaine for the majority of their life and die an old man, and then there are people like [former college basketball star] Len Bias who can do one line and die. Everybody reacts differently to certain shit. You have to be careful with what you are doing, prescribed or not.” Dr. Peters offers that most syrup-related deaths are actually attributed to drowsy drivers falling asleep behind the wheel. When it is reported, that info is left out and it’s simply recorded as an auto accident, ultimately getting overlooked. “For example, bicycle accidents outnumber homicides. But the news will report about the woman assaulted or the guy murdered [instead of the bicycle accident],” he says. “It’s more [auto] accidents due to codeine and promethazine than people who are overdosing, but both are bad.” Either way, be it from accidents, overdoses or accidental overdoses, “lean” is becoming synonymous with “death.” Most times when rumor spreads about a drug being potentially lethal, usage goes down either because of law enforcement cracking down on the drug or users backing away from it. Houston’s reaction to the supposed syruprelated deaths has been a two-sided one. From November 2004 to July 2006, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS/CI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined forces to investigate and indict fourteen people - including 8 pharmacists and a doctor - for conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription narcotics in Houston. The pharmacists sold prescription medicines to people who had no medical needs for them. Additionally, they and their staff used names from the phone book and drew up fake addresses and phone numbers to fill phony prescriptions. Seized records reveled that the co-conspirators had sold over 1.7 hydrocodone pills and roughly 2,500 gallons of codeine/promethazine. “[Cough syrup abuse] is a big problem in Houston because so many crooked doctors and clinics are popping up here, so it’s tough to crack down on it,” says Dr. Mike Leath of Houston’s Memorial Hermann – Prevention and Recovery. “They literally spring up overnight, since they aren’t doing surgery or doing normal doctor stuff. By the time the police and medical board [are ready] to bust these places, they are up and gone.” Law enforcement crackdowns have been somewhat effective, though. “It’s hard to get [codeine] now. Even if you’ve got a cold you can’t get it,” says Paul Wall. “It started getting harder to get when the music got popular, around 2005. It got real bad and prices got high.” Dr. Peters adds, “Amongst people who have money, the usage hasn’t dropped. But for kids that don’t have money, it’s not as accessible as it one was. It may be the wrong way to look at it, but if we can protect our kids for the future and [prevent them from having] access to drugs, that’s all we can really do. If people have money and want to get high, we can educate them and support them with programs, but we need to make sure we target the kids first before we as adults try to do things for people that already know the effects and choose to do the drugs.” On the flip side, some are choosing to either scale

back or leave the drug alone. There won’t be any lean references on Bun B’s new album, 2 Trill. “That was just something out of respect,” says Bun about his decision to omit the drug from his lyrical content since Pimp C’s passing. “That would have been in poor taste for me to continue to make music along that same line. That would be ignorant. But that’s just the way I feel about the shit. I don’t expect anybody else or any other rapper to change a muthafuckin’ thing on their record based on what I do.” Killa Kyleon is one of those people. His latest edition of his mixtape series, Purple Punch, features him on the cover appearing to pour up. “It’s our culture,” he says unapologetically. “We consider our music to be the new drug game. It’s me saying that my lyrics are the purple punch. It’s what I want the streets to consume, and my lyrics are the dope. It’s just like when Scarface named his album The Fix. It wasn’t an intent to glorify the culture but shit, it is what goes on out here.” Surely, Houston isn’t the only major U.S. city battling a syrup epidemic. As chronicled in songs by artists such as Beanie Sigel, Lil’ Wayne, Three Six Mafia and their extended family, lean is widely popular in Philadelphia, throughout Louisiana and Memphis. Addiction has been a problem for both Sigel and Wayne, with Weezy’s struggles (and glorification) recently becoming the hot topic amongst Hip Hop circles. In a recent interview with MTV.com Wayne says about quitting, “It ain’t that easy. Shit feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit, homey. You gotta learn how to stop. You gotta go through detox.” “When you abruptly stop the drugs, you have these feelings of intense muscle pain, deep bone pain, severe diarrhea, watery eyes and runny nose,” supports Dr. Leath. “Opiate withdrawal can be severe. [These] drugs are in the same family as heroin. They might not be injecting it, but they are getting the same withdrawal [symptoms] as a heroin addict when they run out of their fix.” It’s hard to look at Houston Hip Hop and not think of lean. To try and separate the two could almost be deemed as disrespectful because of the part the drug and its effects have played in the music’s history and popularity. Perhaps the same reason why Wayne can’t just quit cold turkey, is the same reason why lean will probably never disappear from Houston’s Hip Hop scene. “In a way, it gives us an identity,” says Paul Wall. “Some Texans have oil and horse ranches, we have drank. It’s just a part of Texas culture.” He pauses with a hint of seriousness now in his voice. “Sometimes, being a rapper, I feel like I’m promoting it. When I rap, I talk about my life, so it’s hard not to talk about [lean]. I don’t want to tell the next person that it’s cool to do [it]. I tell kids not to be like me, but to be better than me.” Others offer more straight-to-the-point advice. “At the end of the day, it’s about you being healthy, whether or not you do drugs,” says Chris Ward, offering the fact that many syrup sippers don’t qualify for healthcare, possibly robbing them of the opportunity to be warned or encouraged to stop. “That’s your responsibility as a person.” “Too much of anything will kill you, bro’,” blasts Killa Kyleon. “That’s pretty much the answer to every question about the shit. Too much of anything will kill you.” //

Profile for Ozone Magazine Inc

Ozone Mag #65 - Mar 2008  

Ozone Mag #65 - Mar 2008

Ozone Mag #65 - Mar 2008  

Ozone Mag #65 - Mar 2008

Profile for ozonemag
Advertisement