Is There A Secret Conspiracy In Hip-Hop To Promote Smoking?

Is hip-hop music an unwitting ally Of the big tobacco business?

According to new research, over the last five years, the genre’s music videos have been the biggest promoter of combustible or electronic tobacco and marijuana products.

Dartmouth Institute Research Scientist Kristin Knutzen led a team of researchers who found that over 50% of the rap videos released from 2013-2017 promoted some type of smoking.

The study revealed that if a featured artist promoted smoking, the song became more popular.

“While there is no doubt that hip-hop artists have made many positive contributions to social change—speaking out on issues like police violence against minorities—there’s also a history of showing regulated substances in hip-hop and other popular music.” – Kristin Knutzen, MPH, Lead Author And Dartmouth Institute Research Scientist.

The big tobacco companies are operating in a gray area, since the music videos present and unregulated opportunity – for now – as the government seeks to introduce legislation to further limit the marketing of tobacco and vape pens.

Here are five key facts pulled from the study about hip-hop and smoking from the JAMA Internal Medicine by Kristin Knutzen:


There’s A Lot Of Marketing Going On

The proportion of songs with accompanying music videos that contained combustible use, electronic use, or smoke or vapor equaled 44% in 2014, 40% in 2015, 50% in 2016, and 47% in 2017. (For a total of 39.5 billion views)


Cigarettes Are Losing To Blunts

Compared with hand-rolled products, manufactured cigarette use was less common in videos. In 2017, only 8% of songs with accompanying music videos contained manufactured cigarettes.


Brand Placement Is Skyrocketing

Among songs with accompanying music videos containing combustible use, brand placement increased from 0% in 2013 to 10% in 2017. For those containing electronic use, brand placement increased from 25% in 2013 to 88% in 2017.


More Smoke, More Fame

The proportion of songs with accompanying music videos containing the use of these products increased with the popularity of these songs. The proportion equaled 42% among songs in the first quartile of viewership (8,700 to 19 million views) and increased to 50% among songs in the fourth quartile of viewership (112 million to 4 billion views).


DJ Khaled And Justin Bieber Lead The Way

The researchers note that the music video for the popular song, “I’m The One” by DJ Khaled— featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper, and Lil Wayne—contained both combustible and electronic use, as well as electronic brand placement (KandyPen)— and had been viewed over 1 billion times on YouTube as of June 2018.