Rising Star Russ Criticizes Rappers Who Glamorize Drug Use

By David Konow 09/20/17

The rising star took to Twitter to defend an anti-drug T-shirt he wore during one of his recent concert appearances. 

Photo via YouTube

The rap world is no stranger to controversy, and rapper Russ—aka Russ Diemon—has stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble with a blunt anti-drugs message. Backstage after a gig, he was photographed wearing a T-shirt that clearly didn’t mince words: “How much Xans and Lean do you have to do before you realize you’re a fucking loser?”

As XXL reports, this caused a fury among Twitter users who took Russ’s message as insensitive, including fellow artist Fredo Santana: “Until I can stop thinking bout my dead homies an the trauma that I been thru in my life that’s when I’ll stop.”

According to UPROXX, some have also interpreted this message as Russ calling out Lil Pump, a new young rapper who called Xanax “the wave” in a tweet. (Lil Pump was also photographed with a cake shaped like a Xanax pill in an Instagram post.)

Russ not only responded to his critics several times on Twitter, but he also wrote a song in response called "Think Twice" that included the lyrics, “These junkie-ass rapper basing brands off of drug addiction, and I’m the bad guy for calling it out. You the one who got kids OD’in tryna be like you, and I’m the bad guy for calling it out.”

On Twitter, Russ wrote, “If I stopped ONE kid from abusing xans or lean, mission accomplished…better than getting ONE kid to try that shit. Period.” In a subsequent tweet, he wrote, “Doing Xanax and lean cuz your favorite rapper makes it sound cool is all fun and games till your impressionable ass gets addicted. Stop.” He added, “A lotta rappers have romanticized & glorified drug abuse. That shits not cool. Peoples lives get ruined from that shit. Grow up.”

Xans is short for Xanax, and lean is a combination of promethazine, codeine and Sprite. Xans, lean and Percocet have been name-dropped in songs by mainstream artists like Future as well as young up-and-coming rappers like Lil Pump.

Mac Miller and ScHoolboy Q have reportedly struggled with too much lean, while rap legend Master P has spoken out against it. According to Hot New Hip Hop, Master P said in an interview with the morning radio show The Breakfast Club, “The real people don’t realize what kill us as African Americans, as entertainers...is drugs. Everybody that you know that went at a young age, go check it, it’s all drugs...The syrup is killing the whole generation.”

Chance The Rapper revealed in a GQ profile that back in 2014 when he was living in Los Angeles, he battled a Xanax addiction that threatened to end his career.

He said, "I was Xanned out every fucking day. I was just fucking tweaking. I was a Xan-zombie.” The gospel rapper moved away from the Golden State and back to Chicago where he sobered up and began work on Coloring Book, an album that would bring the rapper into the mainstream and win him a Grammy for Best Rap Album. 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.