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by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & The Hustle & lt;BR & & lt;BR & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & N & lt;/span & ice day for a witch hunt. & r & & r & According to a study released by the University of Pittsburgh, 77 percent of 2005's most popular rap tracks contain references to drugs, alcohol or smoking. That was also true of 36 percent of Country tracks, 14 percent of R & amp;B songs and 9 percent of pop cuts. Quoth the study: "Substance use in music is frequently motivated by peer acceptance and sex, and it has highly positive associations and consequences."

These numbers aren't shocking. They even seem a little low. I listen to Ghostface; 100 percent of his songs glorify drugs. It's also not shocking anymore that certain elements in the media would be all hot to suggest a link between drug references in music and drug use among kids.

The Washington Post, where I found the story, is measured, containing mostly bare statistics. The plethora of parenting and medical Websites that have hopped on the story, though, take a more angled analysis, making oblique reference to "previous studies" that say "substance use in popular media is linked to actual substance use in adolescents" -- suggesting basically, that drug music leads to drug use.

Except: A link isn't necessarily a cause. Links have been found, sure, but causal links -- proof that music causes drug use -- haven't.

If you took a group of all hip-hop fans and sub-divided by other factors -- quality of education opportunities, perception of upward mobility, persistence of strong familial role models -- I'm certain the link between those factors and drug use would be much, much stronger than hip-hop fandom alone. Kids with better opportunities and role models do fewer drugs. That's it. This is about socio-economics, not celebrity worship or peer pressure.

Which is why Country -- also traditionally a product of poor, under educated communities -- not pop or R & amp;B, has the second highest rate of drug and alcohol references. Song lyrics aren't a reflection of the kind of drug-addled scene artists are trying to create, they're a reflection of the communities they're born in.

No, to find out why kids are destroying their lives, you gotta dig way deeper than a rap lyric or a country song, into the diseased societal infrastructures that keep kids from dreaming bigger dreams than where to score a dime bag.
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