EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 27, 2013

Rapper's seizure puts spotlight on 'sizzurp'


Sizzurp has also provided a street-cred-bolstering talking point in lyrics for star rappers Rick Ross and Far East Movement. And syrup provoked a minor media frenzy in February, when pop star Justin Bieber was photographed at a party in close proximity to what looked like a bottle of codeine-fortified meds (Bieber has denied taking drugs).

Chopped and Screwed music is front and center on R&B diva Beyonce’s newly released single “Bow Down / I Been On.” The genre’s signature sound — slowing the singer’s vocal pitch to a molasses-y growl — is used to showcase Beyonce’s artistic risk-taking. As well, hip-hop luminaries Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, T.I. and Drake have made repeated use of the genre’s slo-mo phrasing techniques.

That Lil Wayne, one of hip-hop’s cash kings, would find escape in something as down-market as prescription cold medication may seem at odds with the genre’s blinged-out excesses.

“Codeine is an opiate,” said Jane Maxwell, senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Addiction Research Institute. “When you’re sipping on syrup, you’re sipping on a synthetic narcotic analgesic.”

Lil Wayne is seen guzzling what appears to be sizzurp — also known as “lean,” “purp” or “purple drank” thanks to the cough syrup’s synthetic pastel hue — in the 2009 documentary film “The Carter.” (He sued to block the movie’s release, accusing its filmmakers of fraud by intentional misrepresentation, but the suit was thrown out by a judge.)

After serving 242 days on Rikers Island in 2010 for gun possession, Lil Wayne continued to pledge allegiance to sizzurp — never mind probation terms stipulating more prison time should he test positive for drugs prior to November 2013: “I’m purple drank forever,” Wayne raps in last year’s “Turn On the Lights.”

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