Stormzy heavily references cannabis in ‘Shut Up’ – which reached number 8 in the charts
Grime music is fueling the use of skunk because artists are referencing the drug in their chart-topping songs, warns a cannabis researcher.
Ian Hamilton, based at York University, warned the popular music genre contains hundreds of lyrics glorifying the use of the class B drug.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he described songs featuring mentions of weed, including those by Stormzy, Kano and Wiley, as ‘essentially product placement’.
Stormzy, a 23-year-old artist who has 1.07 million followers on Twitter, heavily references cannabis in ‘Shut Up’ – a tune which saw the Mobo-winner reach number eight in the UK Singles Chart.
And Mr Hamilton revealed that such music ‘brands itself quite well to promoting a product’ – whether that’s Nike, Adidas or even weed.
He said: ‘It’s essentially product placement by some of these artists about cannabis and other drugs, and it’s not balanced in any way and not countered by evidence.
‘What we definitely know about drug use and young people is that their expectations about the drug and who they are with have huge influence on them.
‘Lyrics can plant the seed of an idea, and it’s not an abstract idea, it’s something they do pretty quickly and at low risk.
‘If the association, viewing it as a product placement, is cool and something that may enhance their status as a young person, then that becomes quite attractive.
‘They don’t have a choice [young people] about the type of cannabis they can get hold of, it’s high potency or nothing.’
Young people ‘don’t care about breaking laws’
He added that the fact cannabis is illegal is irrelevant to most young people because ‘it’s not a concern to them like theft or burglary is’.
However, Stormzy isn’t the only grime artist to reference cannabis in his ‘bars’ – the urban term used to describe lyrics in a grime track, Kano has also
Wiley, considered to be the ‘godfather of grime’, also mentions cannabis in his songs
However, Mr Hamilton warned that the health problems of grime music could stretch way beyond just high potency cannabis.
Promoting dangerous tobacco
The lecturer in mental health told MailOnline: ‘The problem we’ve got in the UK is the way that cannabis is used with tobacco.
They don’t have a choice [young people] about the type of cannabis they can get hold of, it’s high potency or nothing
Ian Hamilton, a mental health lecturer at York University
‘The combination may be an introduction to smoking – if someone listens to a bit of grime music, they may be warmed up to the idea of trying it.
‘Chances are they will try a spliff, which contains tobacco, not like an American kid who is more likely to just have cannabis.
‘Grime music acts as a gateway to tobacco exposure inadvertently, for many young people it will be an appealing introduction, or a curiosity they may act on.’
Tobacco is linked to 17 types of cancer, including lung, throat and bladder – and is deemed to be the most preventable form of the disease.
Stop rolling joints with tobacco
Mr Hamilton issued a warning earlier this year that teenagers should stop rolling their cannabis joints with tobacco earlier this year if they don’t want cancer.
Mr Hamilton warned that the health problems of grime music could stretch way beyond just high potency cannabis
He suggested youngsters should instead smoke the drug on its own if they want to get high because no such links to cancer exist with cannabis.
Mr Hamilton told MailOnline: ‘If someone like Stormzy steps up to the plate to make it clear what the risks are and problems it could help.’
Grime music: The origins
Grime music, which began in London at the turn of the century, has been thrust into the mainstream media in the past year, amid the successful rise of Stormzy.
His debut album, titled ‘Gang Signs & Prayers’, released in February, reached number one in the UK charts – a feat achieved by no other artist in the scene.
Stormzy’s rise to fame, alongside the popularity of Skepta and J Hus, helped sales of grime to rocket by 109 per cent, according to industry figures.
However, Stormzy isn’t the only grime artist to reference cannabis in his ‘bars’ – the urban term used to describe lyrics in a grime track.
The genre is based around some of the realities of urban lifestyle, including gangs, drugs, violence, guns and negative terms for women.
Wiley, considered to be the ‘godfather of grime’, and other prominent artists such as Kano and Lethal Bizzle have also mentioned cannabis in their songs.