Earlier in the year, Pusha T performed his newest single Diet Coke on The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert. Given Pusha's astonishing career and influence as the king of luxury coke raps, it was a highlight in the rise of coke rap. Ever since the inception of the hip-hop culture and rap genre, drug rap was always around. The prominent stories of selling bricks have been a popular topic in rap. We've seen the influence of it through people like Jeezy's Trap or Die and the snowman shirts being banned from schools. Hip-hop fans can go on all day about the influence of Jay-Z's hustler stories, that's why people would want to have dinner with him rather than taking 50k. Biggie's even made the Ten Crack Commandments discussing the hustle!
It appears that the realm of coke rap is pushing careers through mainstream platforms and helping rappers' careers as we have never seen before. In 2018, via USA Today, rap music became the number one genre of music in the United States. Although it can be debated that without the numbers it has been the number one genre for much longer with the easy point of how Clipse's song Grindin' was the main beat made on lunch tables for almost a decade. As No Malice went on to Christian Rap, Pusha T became very recognizable as the King of Coke Rap. When people hear of a new Pusha T release, the nosetalgia kicks in as people get excited to hear new coke bars from Push. Pusha was on Complex Brackets with B. Dot discussing the best coke songs.
In a similar move as Pusha T, the underground lord Freddie Gibbs, AKA Gangsta Gibbs, AKA Freddie Kane, made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show to perform Scottie Beam. Though the song itself has minimal coke references, Freddie has always been an artist who is open in his music about his coke-laden past. His rise is marked by high-profile collabs with Kenny Beats, Madlib, and The Alchemist which netted him his first Grammy nomination, and his beefs with DJ Akademiks and Gunna (which were nothing more than internet spats).
The fact that a luxury coke underground artist like Freddie Gibbs has made it to cable television, rapping about shooting at cop cars and stating "my execution might be televised" is something unexpected to see in mass media today.
Another example would be Griselda performing DR. BIRD'S off their album WWCD on Jimmy Fallon, where the trio wax poetically about having Virgil Abloh (Rest In Peace) write "Brick" on their cocaine bricks, whipping up coke with Voss since his faucets run rosé, and other bars that mesh luxury and dope. Their coke raps led to Westside Gunn's popularity in the wrestling community further tying the tag-team-like bond between hip-hop and wrestling. Even Conway The Machine and Benny ended up doing NPR Tiny Desk Concerts with how they push the envelope in their coke stories.
What could be the reason for this rise? For these televised displays of coke rap that would've been unthinkable thirty years ago? Well among other things, we do know that Hip Hop as a whole is the new Pop music, the artists who are breaking sales numbers nowadays are NBA Youngboy, Lil Durk, Drake, and not Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, or Mariah Carey.
The subgenre of "luxury coke rap", as Pusha T has dubbed it, tends to be lyrically dense and sophisticated in its aesthetic, and it might have broader appeal to older Hip-Hop fans for its embrace of the boom-bap style. Perhaps these TV shows are making a concerted effort to appeal to older rap generations with these musical guests, or public opinion has completely shifted since the 80s-90s with its mass panic over rap music. Needless to say, Pusha T, Freddie Gibbs, and Griselda rapping about coke on cable television is a paradigm shift in American culture that we should all take the time to observe and analyze.
Written by: Max Olarinde and Jay Guevara. @mobeige1 and @justinhisprime on all social media.
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