Jay Z, one of America’s most influential rappers, has released a new album Magna Carta Holy Grail. One of his songs on the album has prompted a spike in internet searches for “Tom Ford,” a renowned clothing designer. Jay Z uses Tom Ford in one of his songs stating, “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” ‘Molly’ is the street name for Ecstasy (or MDMA), and this is a clear indication of the influence of rappers on the trends. Now everyone will know who Tom Ford is in Jay Z’s world and will know that Jay Z chooses a certain lifestyle over doing drugs like Molly. In the last month alone “Tom Ford” searches have skyrocketed to 155%, according to Google and Yahoo, so Jay-Z’s reach is impressive.
This comes on the heels of a major drug bust in San Francisco where the police seized over a $1.5 million in MDMA powder and pills, one of the biggest drug busts in the department’s history.
In June of this year, a Bay Area rap label called Thizz Entertainment was implicated in a nationwide drug-trafficking distribution network after a four-year federal investigation. The label, founded by slain Vallejo rapper Mac Dre, was charged with distributing Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and codeine cough syrup across the East Bay and the country. Law enforcement reported that the record label started as a street gang committing robberies and selling drugs to finance new rappers, before it turned into a “nationwide criminal enterprise.”
Although many in the rap community continue to glorify the use of Molly with no ramifications, Rapper Rick Ross lost an endorsement deal with Reebok after rapping about spiking a woman’s drink with Molly.
It might have a cute new name, but Molly itself isn’t really new. MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, was patented by Merck pharmaceuticals in 1914, but didn’t get much notice until the 1970s, when mental health professionals began giving it to patients to help them open up in therapy. It started to gain momentum in the New York nightclub scene in the late 1980s, and by the early ’90s it became the preferred drug at raves.
Known for creating feelings of euphoria, closeness and lessened anxiety, Ecstasy was embraced by people from Wall Street to Hell’s Kitchen. By 2000, the drug’s reputation had begun to diminish, for a variety of reasons. However, sometime in the last ten years, it returned to clubs as Molly, a powder or crystalline form of MDMA that most users think implies a pure and safe drug. So now we have Ecstasy re-branded as a gentler, more approachable drug. With its new friendly moniker, MDMA has found a contemporary following in a generation of “conscientious professionals” who have never been to a rave and who are usually known for making careful choices in regard to their money, food, and clothing. As recently reported in the New York Times, “Much as marijuana enthusiasts of an earlier generation sang the virtues of Mary Jane, they argue that Molly (the name is thought to derive from “molecule”) feels natural and is basically harmless.”
The drug is not, in fact, harmless. Common side effects include teeth grinding, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, fever, and loss of appetite. More dangerous effects include hyperthermia, uncontrollable seizures, high blood pressure and depression caused by a sudden drop in serotonin levels in the days after use, (this has been given the auspicious nickname of “Suicide Tuesdays”). In fact, the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that the number of MDMA-related emergency-room visits has doubled since 2004. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that drugs such as Molly can be gateway drugs while also putting people in dangerous situations due to diminished capacity, or not really knowing what’s in the pill they’re taking.
The bottom line, is that it’s vital that other rappers and stars take a stand against recreational drug use and toward a life filled with meaning and success. Maybe wearing designer Tom Ford suits doesn’t speak to a life filled with purpose and meaning, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.