The use of lean has not exactly been a secret in hip-hop circles over the last few decades. Though DJ Screw denied needing to use "purple drink" to be able to appreciate the chopped and screwed subgenre he helped pioneer, the popular Houston concoction has since fanned out to other corners of hip-hop, with plenty of artists openly bragging about their lean use.
That has changed a bit in recent years, with lean-connected deaths and tragedies bringing into perspective the havoc it can wreak. And at least one prominent artist is speaking out about using it, declaring that the time for lean has come and gone. Ty Dolla Sign conducted a brief interview with TMZ recently, and he said it's time to move on from it—with a caveat.
"Yes, lean is dead," he said, shortly before closing his car door on a TMZ photographer. "Do what you want to do, you feel me? If it makes you feel good, do what you want to do."
The response isn't all that substantial, but the timing is. Lil Wayne, who has suffered from bouts of seizures in the past, just recently experienced another round of epileptic events. His hospitalization forced him to cancel performances, and many continue to speculate that his abuse of lean plays a factor in his continued struggle with epilepsy.
In the past, Complex has interviewed doctors on the matter, and they've highlighted the danger of someone like Wayne continuing to use and/or abuse lean in spite of his health history.
"Let’s say you go on a drinking binge and the next morning your alcohol level drops—you’re at high risk of having a withdrawal seizure," Dr. Wolfgang Steudel told Complex. "Anyone who’s had a seizure in the past should be even more careful. It doesn’t mean that anyone who’s had a seizure before should never drink wine again, but everybody who’s had a seizure should consider not going on a binge. I would definitely stay away from strong drugs like lean."
Lean is a drug with destructive capabilities, but it's not probably not thought of in the same vein as the other drugs you often hear mentioned, even within rap. Coke, for example, is referenced more often in terms of moving the product rather than using it, and rappers who compare themselves to Scarface usually stop short of diving into a mountain of nose candy from behind their desks.
Is lean actually dead, like Dolla Sign says? No, probably not, but maybe it should be. Too many people have had their lives altered or ended through lean abuse, and it doesn't need to go any further.