Why Lil Xan’s ‘Betrayed’ May Secretly Be One Of Rap’s Best Anti-Drug Anthems Yet

03.16.18 5 months ago 18 Comments

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Of all the various complaints that have been leveled at Soundcloud rap’s up-and-coming cheerful troll Lil Xan, the one that most baffles me is that he is promoting drug use.

First of all, this is an absurd assumption, and a prime example of a certain kind of rap fan’s tendency to only look at the surface of things, rather than actually listening to songs. As Jay-Z once put it: “Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?”

In fact, Lil Xan prides himself on being pretty anti-drugs in his music and even calls himself the pioneer of rap’s intriguing straight-edged anti-drug wave which has also been spearheaded by business-savvy MCs like Vince Staples, Kamaiyah, and the more abrasive Russ.

However, the best evidence for Xan’s anti-drug stance is also his most popular song, “Betrayed.” It’s right there in the hook:

“Xans don’t make you
Xans gon’ take you
Xans gon’ fake you
Xans gon’ betray you
Xans don’t make you
Xans gon’ take you
Xans gon’ fake you
Xans gon’ betray you”

He’s straight up telling kids “drugs are bad” without saying so in as many words. In fact, with “Betrayed,” Xan may have created rap’s first truly effective “cool” anti-drug anthem.

Sure, there have been plenty in the past, dating all the way back to Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s “White Lines.” However, even in that song, it’s hard to discern whether or not Melle Mel is telling us to avoid cocaine or do more of it. In that song’s hook, the refrain “Get higher, baby” is heard over and over again, complete with a “Freebase!” ad-lib that wouldn’t be out of place in a current Migos hit (and how confusing is it that a song called “White Lines,” obviously referring to powder cocaine, encourages the listener to switch to the more potent rock cocaine midway through?).

Of course, that song reveals the consequences of chasing the high by ending with Little Jack Horner sitting on the corner with no shoes and clothes — he’s strung out and destitute after his wild ride on the white horse — but nobody ever hears that part. What DJ is going to play the depressing ending with a party to rock?

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