Songs about cocaine – seems frivolous, but there’s a 100-year history of music that references the addictive white powder stretching back to the 1920s and the likes of the ‘Dope Head Blues’ and ‘Cocaine’.
Everyone from Eric Clapton to Future has used cocaine as a muse and artists who have come into contact with the devil’s dandruff have left a tapestry of tracks that illustrate the highs and lows of the drug – just listen to our selection of the best songs about cocaine below and you’ll be transported from the life of an international dope kingpin to someone who’s having a nervous breakdown in Camden flat and back again as the tracks fold in and out of one another.
Songwriting about cocaine spans genres and as you’d suspect – and probably the reason you’re here – is that there are plenty of gak tracks that go off on the dancefloor or were created with a Big Night Out in mind. From incisive socio-political commentary to outright hedonism, come with us as we rack up the best songs about cocaine.
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Joy O ‘Sicko Cell’
If you were plugged into the UK’s post dubstep scene in the early 10s then you will be familiar with how notorious ‘Sicko Cell’ was. Played as an anonymous dubplate by the likes of Loefah, Oneman and Pearson Sound for what felt like forever, it lit up raves and had the scene in a frenzy as people speculated on who exactly had made the beat. It finally arrived via Swamp81 and its lithe 808 rhythm and booming sample of Big Page rapping “I’m the information, cocaine powder” (a neat piece of sampling from ‘I’m Still Fly’) now serves as a reminder of a very distinct sound being cultivated by the label and contemporaries in the Hessle Audio, Livity Sound and Nonplus camps.
The Weeknd 'Can't Feel My Face'
“And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb … I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but I love it” croons The Weeknd on ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. If the meaning wasn’t clear enough, in a track released the following year (‘Reminder’) he referenced the Kids Choice Award-nominated single saying: “I just won a new award for a kids show / Talking 'bout a face numbing off a bag of blow”. It’s not subtle, and too right, why should it be? This track is brazen pop perfection, that drew The Weeknd comparisons to Michael Jackson and made him a certified superstar, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart, receiving two GRAMMY nominations, and racking up more than a billion views on YouTube; there’s nothing subtle about that.
UGK 'Pocket Full Of Stones'
UGK's 'Pocket Full Of Stones' is pure, unfiltered rap. Bun B and Pimp C rap about having pockets full of crack, referring to freebasing, dope fiends, pipes and pregnant women clucking for a crack fix. It's one of the realest - and grimmest - hip hop tracks about cocaine going, but - paired with a sleazy, winding funk beat - makes you feel like you're witnessing it all first hand in the front seat of UGK's Cadillac while driving through the streets of their hometown of Port Arthur, Texas. Be sure to watch drug dealing classic Menace II Society to grab a listen of 'Pocket Full Of Stones' as well.
Emmanuel Top 'This Is Cocaine'
“This is cocaine speaking” declares a voice from the dark depths of this anxious cut of pulsating techno. Fortunately the voice doesn’t say any more than that, so unlike actual coke chats, you aren’t forced to endure hearing someone’s idea for an app or a Goldsmiths student's plan for ‘fixing the Labour party’.
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Fur Coat feat Cari Golden ‘You & I’
This is Fur Coat and Cari Golden’s ode to what’s affectionately known as Special K in sesh circles: the mixture of cocaine and ketamine. It wins no awards for subtlety (“you and I, we are like cocaine and ketamine” goes the chorus) and its attempts at double entendre are laughable but the track does serve as something of an early 10s tech-house version of the age-old “beer then grass, on your arse” mantra. “Now just a little bit, don't wanna go too far, don't wanna regret it” will be a familiar lesson to anyone who’s been unlucky enough to enter a K hole and a fair warning to those who haven’t.
Jay Z 'Can't Knock The Hustle'
Jay Z's 'Can't Knock The Hustle' is one of the smoothest hip hop and r'n'b jams out there. Mary J. Blige's beautifully delivered chorus is a stellar combo with Jay Z's lyrics about hustling - on the streets and in the music business. It's the opening skit where cocaine gets a full dedication. Jay Z's regular skit man and former Roc-A-Fella Records intern Pain In Da Ass recites part of this exchange between Tony Montana and Omar Suarez in coke epic Scarface. Part of it goes: "There's a bunch of Colombians coming in Friday - new guys / They said they got two keys for us, for openers / Pure cocaine, you tell 'em, capiche?" They do say rap is a form of poetry.
David Bowie 'Station To Station'
David Bowie was infamously doing so much cocaine during the recording of this album that he lost his mind to paranoid terror, thinking things like witches were trying to steal his semen to make a child to sacrifice to the devil. He also got dangerously underweight by subsisting on a diet of peppers and milk, barely remembers recording any of the tracks, and made pro-fascist comments (including calling Hitler “one of the first rock stars … quite as good as Jagger”) as he adopted the Thin White Duke persona (later claiming such comments were “theatrical” and not reflective of his own views). It’s the most controversial era of Bowie’s career, but musically, this track is considered among his very best. The impact of drug addiction comes through in the anxious, experimental sound and lyrics that mood swing between passionately emotional and callously cold. At one point he muses “It's not the side-effects of the cocaine / I'm thinking that it must be love”. Not sure about that.
Phuture 'Your Only Friend'
"This is cocaine speaking, I can make you do anything for me" is the ominous vocal that opens this track, setting the tone for a sinister cut from the Chicago acid house pioneers. The lyrics across the track play out like an anti-drug lesson taught in high school, warning against the problems that can occur from excess cocaine use, including losing your wife, friends and life. A hard-hitting message that also hits hard on the dancefloor.
The Maxx 'Cocaine '
The speech samples in The Maxx's 'Cocaine' are as choppy as a dealer's table ahead of a busy night. The Belgian duo lifted a message from an American reporter saying "Colombia's Amazon basin has become a production centre for the country's biggest illegal export, cocaine", then chopping up the word cocaine and dropping it in and among the track's zesty synths. The original's high clearly wasn't enough, so there's also an Acid Edit to go with it.
Goldfrapp ‘Ride A White Horse’
Goldfrapp’s nu disco classic invokes those infamous nights at Studio 54, namely the time when the club was transformed into a farm for Dolly Parton and – perhaps the most memorable dance music image of them all – when Bianca Jagger rode across the dancefloor on, yup, a white horse. The sparkly naivety of the lyrics are everything a good night out should be (“I like dancing at the disco, I want blisters, you're my leader”) but the whole thing also reeks of the petroleum whiff of a freshly cut line and the hedonistic possibilities at the end of a rolled up note. Of course, the interpretation is up to you, dear reader.
Freddie Gibbs 'Halfe Manne Half Cocaine'
Rap link-ups haven't come much better than Freddie Gibbs and legendary producer Madlib in recent years. The two's most recent project 'Bandana' gifted us with 'Half Manne Half Cocaine', where Freddie delivers KO lyrical punches on top of Madlib's sinister beats. Split into two parts (Half Manne and Half Cocaine), the first half has Freddie telling us how he "just broke up a brick on the East with the clique" and "just turned my mom house to a powder house". In part two he reveals "crack numbin' up my fingertips" how he "sent sixty pounds of Walter White, to White Plains" and that he's "movin' ounces on the Cash App."
Pusha T 'Numbers On The Board'
Pusha T raps about coke with the gravitas of a great war general leading their troops into battle. Every bar is a potent hook that you hang onto like a fish with a death wish. In the coke rap game he’s undoubtedly one of the best, with endless lines and a rap moniker derived from pushing tons of the stuff. In 2018, CentralSauce crunched the numbers and determined that 20% of his solo career bars are about drugs, and more than half of those are about cocaine. So, there’s plenty of tracks from King Push to pick from for this list. ‘Numbers On The Board’ is one that never gets old, with an all-time great beat from Don Cannon & Kanye West and that proud final couplet: “I might sell a brick on my birthday / 36 years of doin' dirt like it's Earth Day, God”. Yuugh!
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Dave The Drummer + Chris Liberator ‘One Night In Hackney’
It’s a shame that the steady march of gentrification will deprive the youth of tomorrow from blissfully squelching around the warehouses of Hackney Wick, avoiding puddles of piss and spilt beer while fist pumping to face-melting tekno. ‘One Night In Hackney’ details a rite of passage for many of London’s ravers who made the brave trek out to the abandoned industrial zone that used to be a playground for squatters and graffiti artists until the Olympics changed everything. This tekno classic now has a rose-tinted edge, but it’s also a neat reminder that those who seek shall still be rewarded with rave bounty, wherever they may be. And while Hackney Wick isn’t such an epicentre anymore, there are plenty of other places in town where the spirit of this track lives on.
MGMT 'Time To Pretend'
The opening track to MGMT’s debut album is a tongue-in-cheek imagining of a rock star lifestyle, so naturally, it’s packed full of references to sex and drugs, ultimately culminating in death by means of choking on vomit. A stark message that fame’s not all it’s cracked up to be, kids. But among the chaos, the lyric that really hits home is: “Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?”. A stark message that death beats being a capitalist pawn!
Fast, frenetic bass kicks are essentially a cocaine sesh-ridden heartbeat on Yakooza's hard trance weapon 'Cocaine'. There's no time for a breather among the relentless kicks, punches and cyber synths, with the same 'cocaine' sample as The Maxx's 'Cocaine' dropped in, giving you one intense hard trance high at the end of it.
Vitalic ‘You Prefer Cocaine’
“You prefer cocaine to dance like a machine” goes the refrain of this bug-eyed electroclash stomper. One would imagine that Vitalic made this with bleary nights (and days) in the scuzzy venues of Brooklyn, Shoreditch and Kreuzberg in mind. It’s unrelenting groove could soundtrack a montage of strobe-lit dancefloors, fat lines in club toilets, cabs to afterparties and the steady blurring of time – not to mention the paranoid oblivion that this track is surely careening toward. Handle with caution.
Fleetwood Mac 'Gold Dust Woman'
As with the David Bowie selection in this list that was released in the late 70s and fuelled by a seismic cocaine habit, Fleetwood Mac were also partial to some packet when this track came out in 1978. Steve Nicks, who wrote the track, confirmed in a 1997 interview with SPIN that ‘gold dust’ is a metaphor for cocaine, saying: “Everybody was doing a little bit - you know, we never bought it or anything, it was just around - and I think I had a real serious flash of what this stuff could be, of what it could do to you...And I really imagined that it could overtake everything, never thinking a million years that it would overtake me.” Like Bowie, she found the drug too much, and quit it a few years later. In the 1997 TV episode VH1 The Making of Rumours she said of the time: “I don't think I had ever been so tired in my whole life as I was when we were like - doing that. You know I think it was shocking me - the whole rock'n'roll life - was really heavy and it was so much work and it was so everyday intense you know. Being in Fleetwood Mac was like being in the army.” The term 'marching powder' takes on a new meaning.
NWA 'Dope Man'
Tunes about crack cocaine don't come much harder than NWA's 'Dope Man'. The Compton crew never shied away from delving deep into the culture and happenings of their city - which was hit hard by the crack cocaine epidemic in the '80s - and 'Dope Man' is an insightful narrative into the life of a drug dealer. With classic Dr. Dre breaks and woozy West Coast synths as the track's foundations, Eazy E and Ice Cube spit hard bars about crack, "rock" and smoking "'caine", with shouts of "dopeman, dopeman, give me a hit" in the chorus. While it could be mistaken for glorifying the drug, the track's actually a pretty educational tool about the effect it had on the group's community.
Grandmaster & Melle Mel 'White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do it)'
One of the great anti-cocaine songs, Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson originally intended this to be a satire of the coke-fuelled New York yuppy lifestyle of the 80s but had to make its stance more obvious so it would be more commercially successful and accepted by the music industry. While their original vision may have been a little compromised, it still turned out to be an ultra sharp comment on cocaine culture as well as a party anthem thanks to the added “don’t do it” phrase which is as catchy as it is morally responsible. This track is also famous because of its unauthorised sample of New York disco-not-disco troupe Liquid Liquid’s track ‘Cavern’, which was disputed in court but is a wonderful example of the blurring of genre boundaries and raw creativity happening in NYC at the time.
Yung Lean 'French Hotel'
This banger off Yung Lean’s ‘Poison Ivy’ album describes the club/drug/after party lifestyle of a touring artist. Above a dancey beat from collaborator Whitearmor, Lean raps bars like “We sippin' champagne and the blow, we keep it on us / See us in the club, you know we keep the knives on us”. Like a criminal cub scout, Lean says: be prepared.
Biggie ‘Ten Crack Commandments’
This is Biggie’s infamous guide to selling and surviving, which was inspired by a feature on the US crack epidemic in hip hop magazine The Source. Based on the biblical 10 commandments, it’s a visceral description of rules that those in the drug game have to live by in order not to end up dead or in jail. Biggie of course makes it all sound like poetry, his words falling easily over a soft beat that belies the stark reality of his lyrical content.
Curtis Mayfield ‘Pusherman’
Super Fly is the 1972 blaxploitation film about a Harlem coke dealer who’s trying to go straight. It’s soundtrack is one of Curtis Mayfield’s best known albums and took off at the time because of Mayfield’s beautiful musicianship and lyrics that cast a critical eye over drug use in America. ‘Pusherman’ is one of many fine tracks on the LP, evocative enough to feel like a film in itself. It’s a smooth and brilliantly clever depiction of a drug dealer and the way in which dealers embed themselves into their customers’ lives as well as the luxurious trappings and dark downside that come with a life pushing rocks on the street.
Solardo 'On The Corner'
Obviously the Solardo boys are shoe-ins for this list; the Mancunian duo make no secret of loving a little sesh. This bumping tech-house number has a sample of someone describing young drug dealers making fast cash on the street, and even more to the point, a repeated sample of someone literally just saying “cocaine”. Nawty.
Debbie Harry 'Rush Rush'
There's so much cocaine in Brian De Palma's Scarface that once the near-three-hour epic is over, you feel like you've been deep in the sesh yourself, chatting breeze, making enemies and rubbing the white stuff all over your face with Al Pacino's Tony Montana. A guitar-washed, synth-heavy Golden Globe-nominated soundtrack, composed by Giorgio Moroder, definitely boosts that vibe, none more so than Debbie Harry's ode to cocaine, 'Rush Rush'. Harry, who had gone solo after Blondie went on hiatus in 1982, happily sung about coke, only using the Spanish slang term of 'yeyo' (also spelled 'illello') rather than being so blatant. "Rush rush, got the yeyo? / Buzz buzz, gimme yeyo / Rush rush, got the yeyo?" go the lyrics. Some film, some song, some buzz.
Wayne Smith ‘Under Me Sleng Teng’
‘Sleng Teng’ has become one of dancehall’s most famous riddims, hailed for taking the sound digital and so influential that elements of it can still be heard across electronic music today. A collaboration between producer King Jammy and vocalist and musician Wayne Smith, who found the riddim’s pattern on a Casio MT-40 home keyboard, ‘Under Mi Sleng Teng’ is an irresistible paean to the sweet sensimelia and a solid rebuff to the devil’s dandruff. “Way in my brain, no cocaine, I don't wanna, I don't wanna go insane” goes the anthemic chorus, bolstered by an irresistible and brilliantly heavy digi groove. Timeless.
Rick Ross ‘Hustlin’
There’s nothing subtle about ‘Hustlin’. This is all about shifting serious weight and celebrating accordingly. The breakout single by Florida rap god Rick Ross remains one of his most famous cuts and with good reason. Everything about it is extra, from the description of the cocaine dealer lifestyle in which Ross paints himself as the most powerful, the most international and the most lavish, a carnival of kilos, fast cars and women, to its icy trap beat, which hangs around Ross’ lyrics like a fat gold chain around his neck, skeletal snares rattling through bullet-proof horns and strings. But as Ross has revealed, there was a reason why he had to come through with something so souped-up. After grinding on the underground for several years, he needed something special to break into the big leagues. ‘Hustlin’ was just that.
O. T. Genasis 'Coco'
As the Wiki page for this legendary viral hit plainly puts it: “The song's title and lyrical content explicitly refer to Genasis' love of cocaine”. The artwork depicts a love heart shaped line spilling out of a brick and the Busta Rhymes co-directed video features obscene amounts of the substance among fast cars, models and yachts, as O. T. Genasis bounces around enthusiastically proclaiming his love of the coco. In an interview with Rolling Stone about his headspace when making the track, he said: “I was super amped up. It was probably 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I had the music all the way up yelling, “I’m in love with the coco!” I was just being young and hungry.” Not for food, presumably.
Capone-N-Noreaga 'Stick You'
You hear the rainfall in Capone-N-Noreaga's 'Stick You' and you just know something is about to go down. And that it does, as the pair and featured artist Tragedy Khadafi move around Queens, New York on the hunt for a guy that's slung them dodgy cocaine. "Is it getting your shit numb?", Noreaga asks, to a reply of "No, this shit is weak". And so the crusade for a drug heist begins backed by a dusty, piano-tapping golden age East Coast hip hop beat. In and among the searching, gagging and stick-up, Capone, Norega and Khadafi chat about how they are turning "coke to crack" and how they "been buying my coke from the same cat." The plot's so good this could be film noir for the '90s hip hop generation. If only they made visuals to go with it.
Whitey ‘Wrap It Up’
Music industry anti hero Nathan J White should be lauded as one of the great artists of the 00s indie dance movement but after his astonishingly good debut album ‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train’ he fell into semi-obscurity amid a swirl of rumours about record label fuckery and other pitfalls that can befall a musician on the up. Now a figure of punk funk folklore, he’s very much still out there, having reclaimed the rights to his back catalogue and kept the accounts ticking over with syncs on Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Entourage and Grand Theft Auto IV. ‘Wrap It Up’ is an artefact from those turbulent years, its perfect blend of taught post punk and sleazy electroclash equalling the greatness of ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ or ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’. Originally released on 7” in 2006, it was slated to be the opening track of Whitey’s sophomore LP that mysteriously never got released. Somewhere in the paranoid melancholy of its lyrics about staring at the bottom of an empty wrap of gak is a life lesson he’s used his whole career: never give up and never let the bastards get you down.
Dillinger ‘Cocaine In My Brain’
‘Cocaine In My Brain’ is Dillinger’s iconic depiction of getting wired in the Big Apple (or, to be more specific, the kitchen of his New York dwelling). It references the ‘Cocaine Blues’ as well as a bizarre Disney record and is a no-fucks-given ode to the white stuff underpinned by a funky sample from a disco classic, which explains why the song has such a damn happy spring in its step. A stone-cold reggae classic, it proved to be an international hit, even going to number one in the Netherlands.
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