In a new interview with Billboard, outspoken Chicago rapper Vic Mensa questions the accountability of prescription drug manufacturers in the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic and wonders whether they can be held criminally liable for the deaths that have resulted from the abuse of drugs like Xanax and Percocet.
“They act like what they’re giving us is not drugs,” he says. “I really start to ask, like, at what point and time do we start holding the manufacturers of Xanax accountable? The prescribers of Xanax and Percocet, at what point and time do the people that literally make these products in labs and mass produce them — when are these people criminals?”
Going one step further, Vic switches from simply calling these purveyors of unsafe chemical remedies for life’s ailments “murderers,” saying, “They are making the murder weapon, and there’s no way I can propose that this is the most effective, logical treatment for these mental illnesses.”
The interview covers a number of subjects which Vic has spoken on before, including gun control and his feelings on Lil Peep’s recent death from overdose, and he holds nothing back.
“The NRA and the corporations that make Glocks and ammunition, they all experience huge hikes in their profits every time there’s one of these murders,” he notes of the high murder rate in his native Chicago and recent mass shootings that shook the nation. “Yet, we’re convinced by our different media of choice — media and propaganda of choice — that these guns are necessary and they’re our right and they, in fact, keep us safe when they really kill us.”
Of Lil Peep, he says, “Lil Peep’s death didn’t really make me think about myself very much,” explaining that he felt Peep’s death was inevitable as a function of using the image of addiction as a promotional tactic and condemning rappers including himself and Future who continue to exploit that image in spite of their role model status.
“You got Future talking about, ‘I just rap about drugs because I know that’s what sells, that’s what people want to hear,'” he continued. “While people are overdosing left and right… it’s also horribly irresponsible because you got kids that idolize these people and will do anything they do. They’re being misled but their f*cking heroes and getting addicted to Xans or Percocets and dying from them.”
As usual, Vic is full of fascinating insights into how hip-hop addresses social issues and how it also informs them when listeners take lifestyle cues from rappers or only learn about life in urban communities from their exaggerated street life tales. The full interview (which cuts off mid-question) is an interesting read, and perfectly illustrates how much more informed and responsible modern rappers are than they’re usually credited for being. Given the recent illuminating admission from Timbaland about his own addiction to painkillers, it seems like Vic has a salient point.