Lean is by no means a new craze in hip-hop. Since the early days of DJ Screw, promethazine mixed with codeine and Sprite has been the recipe for many southern classics. Though purple drank originated in Houston, it has slurred its way into Atlanta, New Orleans, and just about every other hip-hop metropolis in the country.
While lean has been partially responsible for some of hip-hop’s greatest records over the years, it is also to blame for a few notable deaths, including those of DJ Screw and Pimp C. Lil Wayne’s drank addiction has been rumored to be linked to some near-fatal seizures, yet despite the known dangers of the drug, many rappers can’t refrain themselves from the purple.
In attempts to cut down on the lean frenzy, Actavis stopped all production and sales of its popular Promethazine Codeine product in April 2014. Nowadays, lean may be harder to find, but its muddy-sound will be etched in hip-hop for many years to come.
To recount some of the best uses of the drug when it pertains to pure artistry, we’ve come up with the 10 best rap songs influenced by lean. View them in the galleries above.
Bonus: Future – Codeine Crazy
Future’s Monster mixtape was loaded with brilliant songs, and among the many standouts was the outro track, “Codeine Crazy.” Produced by TM88, Future uses Auto-Tune and multiple flows to float his way around the immersive soundscape. Though his vocals are modulated, Future penetrates the track with so much pure emotion that even his most personal experiences seem relatable. “Codeine Crazy” not only solidified Future as a codeine king, but brought his artistry to a whole new level. Celebrate like a championship.
Z-Ro – I Can’t Leave Drank Alone (feat. Lil O)
The title says it all. In 2009, Houston hip-hop veterans Z-Ro and Lil O linked up for “I Can’t Leave Drank Alone,” a powerful song detailing each rapper’s addiction to codeine. To open his verse, Z-Ro raps “Y’all would think with three felony cases, I would leave drank alone/I’m still out on bond, and I’mma keep drinking ‘till all the drank is gone.” The track appeared on Z-Ro’s 13th solo album, Cocaine.
Chief Keef – Go To Jail
Chief Keef isn’t known to sip sizzurp anymore, but when he did, his music varied in quality. Arguably his best track during his 2013 lean phase was “Go To Jail,” the Swagg B-produced screamo that he released as a YouTube loosie. Codeine and Auto-Tune are equally to thank for his robotic warble, which at the time, was his most experimental flow yet.
Young Thug – 2 Cups Stuffed
While purple drank is primarily known to drowse users, Young Thug was obviously quite amped while recording this track. A highlight off his breakout 2013 mixtape 1017 Thug, “2 Cups Stuffed” is a wildly energetic anthem dedicated to his drink of choice. “LEAN, LEAN, LEAN, LEAN, LEAN-LEAN-LEAN!” he shouts.
Peewee Longway – Servin’ Lean (Remix) (feat. A$AP Rocky)
Atlanta’s Peewee Longway elevated himself to chief trapper status with this banger, “Servin’ Lean.” This song first appeared on Gucci Mane’s 2013 album World War 3: Lean, with the official remix arriving roughly eight months later. A$AP Rocky’s verse is icing on the cake; how dope is the beat though?
Soulja Boy – Molly With That Lean
When Auto-Tune is used effectively, great things are bound to happen. Though Soulja Boy has been known to abuse the voice-modulation software throughout his career, there are songs in which he performs rather well with Auto-Tune. The codeine-inspired “Molly With That Lean” finds Soulja surfing effortlessly over the beat, using his syrupy tone to add new melody to the song. While purple drank is often more harmful than helpful, “Molly With That Lean” is a prime example of the positive impact it can have on some artists.
Big Moe – Purple Stuff (feat. D-Gotti)
Big Moe passed away in 2007, but his legacy in Houston will carry on forever. One of his most notable tracks, “Purple Stuff” featuring D-Gotti, appeared on his sophomore album Purple World. Themed after the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, the music video shows Moe rapping alongside several oompa loompas. (R.I.P.)
Future – Dirty Sprite
Future has a lot of songs about lean, but “Dirty Sprite” is especially memorable. A classic Mike Will x Future collab, “Dirty Sprite” features the astronaut rapping rather consciously about the negative effects of purple drank. “Pour up a 3 or 4, my Sprite so dirty fool/My bitch remind me all the time ‘that drink will kill you.’” Hopefully, Future’s life won’t end prematurely due to codeine any time soon.
A$AP Rocky – Purple Swag
When A$AP Rocky released “Purple Swag” on YouTube in 2011, the video instantly went viral. The Harlem rapper’s trademark trippy flow, largely influenced by Houston, quickly drew the attention of millions. “I’m Texas trill, Texas trill/ but in NY we spit it slow.” Since then, Rocky’s rapping style has become one of the most mimicked in all of hip-hop.
Lil Wayne – I Feel Like Dying
As one Rap Genius annotator points out, this track is basically “Weezy in Wonderland.” Leaked from his Carter III sessions, Lil Wayne was on a bunch of shit when he recorded this song, with codeine likely fueling most of his creativity. Similar to many of his songs from this era, “I Feel Like Dying” possesses an eerie, alien-like feel that is truly out of this world. “Jumping off of a mountain, into a sea of codeine/I’m at the top of the top, but still I climb…” Has Wayne ever been higher than this?
Three 6 Mafia – Sippin On Some Sizzurp
Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat, & UGK teamed for this classic record way back in 2000. The laid-back melody of the song samples Marvin Gaye’s “Is That Enough”, and is brought to life by dope verses from Pimp C and Juicy J. Though it has an underground-sound, “Sippin On Some Sizzurp” managed to crack the top-30 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.