A Field Guide to Lil Wayne and Sizzurp

Anyone who knows me knows I love Lil Wayne (YMCMB ’til the death of me). Say what you will about him; the boy has talent and has gone on to inspire other artists I love. But enough about that. I’m not here to change your mind about rap. I’m here to give a little background to the most recent gossip blog drama: Lil Wayne’s seizures and his coincidental addiction to cough syrup.

‘Sizzurp,’ ‘purple drank,’ ‘lean,’ ‘Texas tea’ etc.

Call it what you will—it’s a mixture of cough syrup (an opiate), Sprite/Mountain dew (or any other clear, non-caffeinated soft drink) and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. It has supposedly been around since the early 1960s, but its popularity is attributed to DJ Screw (who later overdosed on syrup and other drugs) in the 1990s Houston hip hop scene. People started mixing in Jolly Rancher candy in about early 2000s and references to the stuff appeared in dozens of chart toppers, as the drink spread from Houston to other southern states.

Bottom line: this stuff is an addictive and as deadly as shooting heroin.


A little over a month ago, there were all kinds of rumors swirling that Weezy was on his death bed. He was hospitalized twice over the course of one week from seizures. But that isn’t where this story begins.

Wayne has always suffered from severe migraines. He says that is why he uses marijuana so regularly (I can think of a few more reasons). He was hospitalized in October 2012. Rumors said it was seizures; his team first said it was migraines. He was later hospitalized again, this time for seizures. About a month after, Wayne revealed he was taking medication for seizures but never connected them to drank.

Then, there was last month’s incident where TMZ reported he was moments away from death and his family was struggling to pull the plug. Wayne had suffered from dozens of seizures in between these two incidents and spent time in and out of the hospital; nothing had been as highly publicized as that March 2013 event. On March 28, Wayne took to LA’s Power 106 to admit he has epilepsy.

On May 1st, Wayne was briefly hospitalized for another seizure but claimed on Twitter that he was fine and there was no need to worry.

But I am Worried

Stress? Really, Weezy? It has nothing to do with all that drank???

In 2009, Wayne sat down with Katie Couric. This is what he told her.

Okay, well maybe he isn’t addicted. I don’t know what he does behind closed doors. But being hospitalized over and over doesn’t seem healthy. I really hope (wel,l not hope, but you get me) that it is just a predetermined neurological disorder. But the facts lead me to believe otherwise. Need I remind you, Weezy, that Pimp C died only a few years back from his addiction to sizzurp? He wasn’t first and he won’t be the last, either.

Lil Wayne Ain’t the Only One

Musicians and drugs always seem to go together. Whether it’s Lil Wayne, Amy Winehouse or The Rolling Stones, these artists seem to flock to the stuff. But that doesn’t mean their creativity has anything to do with the drugs.

You all might know Macklemore for his sick rhymes about Goodwill and marriage equality, but prior to those chart topping singles, he released ‘Otherside’ a song documenting his addiction to lean in the Seattle rap scene and his path to sobriety.

Macklemore talks openly about his addiction, the feeling of wanting to be like all the other rappers in the game, admitting that sizzurp plays a huge role in the hip hop scene all over the country. But like his lyrics say, sizzurp was an escape, not the inspiration to creativity as some claim it is.

The sad truth is, this isn’t something that just affects rappers. Football hopeful JaMarcus Russell was released from the Oakland Raiders for displaying drowsy and weak behavior. Following that, he was arrested for illegal codeine syrup possession. Rumors circulating pointed fingers at lean for Russell’s demise. He pleaded “Not guilty” in the case and is supposedly working on a comeback, but his entire career was halted due to this one drink.

Even scarier, a new “anti-energy” drink hit the market a few years ago called “Drank.” It’s grape flavored and resembles the famed purple drank. It contains “all natural” herbs that help it’s users relax and remain calm. In summary, it’s a legal soft drink marketed to young kids that looks just like the drug. I honestly have no words. The abbreviation “SMH” is all that comes to mind when I think of a group of business people deciding to use a harmful drug to promote sales. (What’s next? Crack pipe candy?)

Like I said before (and will say 1000x over), I love Lil Wayne, but I got no love for his addiction. I hope he gets the help he needs. I would hate to see another talented artist waste away because of cough syrup.

Featured image via @LilTunechi