| Lists |

Crack is wack: The ten best musical motivational messages from 1980s and 1990s

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Remember back in the day when you got home from school all psyched to watch some sweet, violent cartoons only to find that the dreaded After School Special? Buzz kill. It was even more of a bummer when our musical heroes took it upon themselves in the '80s and '90s to urge us all to lay off the reefer, stay in school, and practice safe sex. C'mon, Dr. Dre! We knew damn well you smoked weed!

See also: Warren G's biggest hit is the best rap song in the history of ever

10. NWA - "Express Yourself" "I don't smoke weed or sess, cause it's known to give a brother brain damage. And brain damage on the mic don't manage nothin' but makin' a sucker and you equal. Don't be another sequel." says 1988 Dr. Dre. Wait, wait wait. Does smoking weed make you a sucker, or does it make you one of the best-selling hip-hop artists of all time? Cause The Chronic-era Dr. Dre who was "smelling like Indo-nesia" four years later probably thinks smoking weed is pretty okay.

9. MC Shy-D - "Paula's On Crack" In "Paula's on Crack," MC Shy-D tells us the story of a lovely young girl who becomes a "well-known ho; a real good slut" because she's "on the crack attack." Okay, listen: Crack is most certainly no laughing matter -- especially in 1980s New York. But somehow MC Shy-D's plaintive insistence that Paula's "too damn fine to be on that crack" just isn't cutting it. Pro-tip: Maybe don't have your main argument against crack be that it ruins all the good T&A.

8. Kid N Play - "Get it Right" Okay, granted, this is from Class Act, a movie, we might add, wherein Pauly Shore is improbably hosting a school dance (?) in which local New Jack Swing acts are performing. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. The point is that in the Kid-N-Play universe, cool stoner Pauly Shore takes the stage to sing a song and is immediately booed off by a restless crowd. When Kid-N-Play jump up to save the day, Super Nerd Deluxe Kid is rapping lines like "High school doesn't mean you gotta get high. A strong mentality will reach the sky, a weak mind only wants to get by." And the masses are eating it up. Sure. Okay.

7. Run-DMC - "Pause" This video is pretty effective, because it opens with the most obnoxious, whiny pimp/drug dealer caricatures you ever saw, and then Supreme Badasses D.M.C. busts out of a building wearing gold chains and a fedora telling you to "pause" before you smoke crack. I'll pretty much do whatever this dude says at this point.

6. Heavy D - "Don't Curse" Heavy D's ode to living the clean life in song is more directly aimed at censorship, but something tells me that members of the No Cussing Club would probably be on board. Okay, don't smoke weed, don't smoke crack, don't become a prostitute, pay attention in school, don't curse...what else do you want us to do with ourselves? This is getting hard.

5. Biz Markie - "Things Get a Little Easier" You probably know Biz Markie from his timeless jam "Just a Friend." In "Things Get a Little Easier," he takes a more serious stance to tell you the dangers of drugs. "Don't be messin' with no drugs -- whether you're young, whether you're old, whether you're bad, whether you're bold. Don't mess with it cause it's not for the soul," he says. Solid advice, but I don't know if I want to take life tips from a dude who whines about not being able to get a girlfriend.

4. Kool Moe Dee - "Go See the Doctor" Let's imagine you've had Silk's "Freak Me" on heavy rotation. You've been filling your Capitol Hill apartment with lavender-scented candles, you've lined your bed with satin sheets, and you're ready to call out to your lady, "I wanna get freaky with you!" That's all well and good, but Kool Moe Dee would like to remind you that three days later, you probably need to go see a doctor. Kind of puts a damper on all those vanilla bean bath salts, don't it?

3. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "Human Video Game" In "Human Video Game," Will Smith shows all the classic signs of a crushing addiction: he's nervous and shaky, he's willing to spend all his money on his drug, and he ends up sleeping on the streets. But oh wait, he's addicted to "Donkey Kong" because this is the Fresh Prince we're talking about here. So if you thought you could avoid all these problems by staying home and playing the new "Grand Theft Auto," you were sadly mistaken, my friend.

2. TLC - "Waterfalls" I remember two things about this song/video: 1. AIDS is horrible, and 2. TLC melting into the water. I think you're only supposed to remember the first one. TLC and Salt-N-Pepa occupied similar territory in the early/mid 1990s in terms of their vocal support of safe sex and the fight against AIDS (although TLC seemed to be far more willing to wear condoms as part of their accessory line up). But "Waterfalls" was such a mega-hit that it put all the other anti-AIDS ballads to shame.

1. Salt-N-Pepa - "Let's Talk About Sex" Let's talk about early 1990s motivational hip hop, y'all. There's probably not another single in this genre you know better than this one. Salt-N-Pepa achieved a major feat with this song. They built a career off of writing raunchy, awesome sex anthems but then simultaneously managed to write the catchiest safe sex manifesto the world has ever known. Just think about this song for three seconds and then try to get it out of your head for the rest of the day. And then go volunteer at Planned Parenthood. It would make Spinderella happy.

• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS • - The fifty best rap lyrics of all time - The ten biggest concert buzzkills - Five more concert buzzkills - From Phish to Floyd, the ten best light shows

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.