Kendrick Lamar Comes Not to Praise Molly Rap, But to Bury It
Rapper amplifies "Death to Molly" message
Kendrick Lamar has only the best reasons for wanting to kill so-called molly rap: because it’s “corny” and its unthinking use “waters down” the language of hip-hop.
At the end of Lamar’s recent video for “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” from the rapper’s Essential good kid, m.A.A.d city (our favorite rap album of 2012), the screen flashes with the words, “Death to Molly.” It was an apparent reference to the powdered form of ecstasy compound MDMA, whose prevalence in hip-hop lately inspired our piece Rolling in the Deep: Hip-Hop’s Greatest Molly Moments. Danny Brown, who raps about ecstasy and virtually any other mind-altering substance, tweeted at the time, “I hope this new KDot video do make people stop fucking wit #Molly.”
Now, in a video interview with MTV’s Sway Calloway, Lamar has confirmed he’s hoping to end the molly-rap moment. “Sometimes you have the trends that’s not that cool,” he said, without naming any names. “You may have certain artists portraying these trends and don’t really have that lifestyle and then it gives off the wrong thing. And it becomes kinda corny after a while.”
Lamar didn’t explain why this particular trend is worse than hip-hop’s shifting clothing styles, which he endorsed, but he did stress that all the widespread molly talk is sapping the music’s vitality. “When everybody consciously now uses this term or this phrase and putting it in lyrics, it waters the culture down,” he said. “So it’s really just time to move on.” Later, he said, “It’s really about keeping hip-hop original and pushing away the corniness in it.”
The comments come amid a wider discussion in hip-hop about all molly everything. Rick Ross recently came under fire for appearing to endorse MDMA as a date-rape drug. DJ and producer A-Trak recently wrote a Huffington Post editorial struggling with what he astutely sees as rap’s shift “from glorifying selling hard drugs to glamorizing their effects.” Our own hip-hop blogger Brandon Soderberg has called hand-wringing about molly “silly” and noted it’s not rap’s only drug, writing, “Considering how deeply embedded cocaine is in the culture, complaining about molly is like complaining about Auto-Tune.”
Lamar, thoughtful as ever, hits on a legitimate motive for writing molly rap’s obituary: It’s played out, man, and it’s making rap worse. The-Dream’s “Slow It Down” probably won’t, sadly, lead to a rise in R&B that’s more patient than the recent crop of Euro-club crossovers. Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” definitely didn’t kill Auto-Tune. But the “Swimming Pools (Drank)” rapper just might be the guy to drown molly in the bathtub. But could somebody please rap over Muscles’ PLUR indie-dance anthem “Sweaty” first?