UPDATE: The Toronto Police have just held a press conference confirming they have the infamous Rob Ford video and that it's "contents" are consistent with earlier media reports.
Crack has never gone away since the cocaine derivative's deadly arrival in the mid-'80s. But it's certainly being discussed more right now than anytime in recent memory thanks to the since-denied allegations, published in the Toronto Star and Gawker, that Toronto mayor Rob Ford was seen on a smartphone video smoking something from what was described as a glass "crack pipe."
Much of the subsequent reaction, from snarky tweets to Taiwan's CGI reenactment, have made fun of the situation. But if we need a reminder of how bad of a drug crack-cocaine is, you need to go no further than the hip-hop canon which since almost its earliest days as "the black CNN" has covered the crack epidemic as it left a swath of chaos and destruction across North America's inner cities and clearly continues to do harm to this very day.
Here are the 10 most powerful hip-hop songs about crack.
Frank Ocean "Crack Rock" (2012)
On his major label debut, R&B crooner and Odd Future member Frank Ocean recorded this reminder that the crack epidemic hasn't gone away, and too many are still "smoking stones in abandoned homes."
Public Enemy "Night Of The Living Baseheads" (1988)
P.E.'s treatment of how crack impacted the 'hood was given horror movie tropes to help the outsiders understand the scale of the problem. And if anyone fully understood its scale, it was Chuck D whose hypeman-slash foil Flavor Flav had his own long-running struggles with the drug, including checking into rehab to deal with addiction. At its height, Flav has said he was spending <a href="http://austereo.castmetrix.net/podcast/378302368699185950/1/TheKyleandJackieOShow.mp3" target="_blank">$2,600 a day</a> on his habit.
Shinehead "Gimme No Crack" (1988)
New York dancehall artist Shinehead's anti-crack ode, and its moving music video, told several fraught tales of afflicted addicts and included the timeless chorus "I might act crazy, but I don't smoke crack."
N.W.A. "Dope Man" (1987)
N.W.A. were the embodiment of the gang wars that erupted in places like their hometown Compton, California. But though they boasted of their gun play and chanted "fuck the police," crack-dealing was still beyond the pale for them. The song told of the lives ruined by the drug-dealer's product and ended with this killer rejoinder: "Yo, Mr. Dopeman, you think you're slick, You sold crack to my sister, and now she's sick, But if she happens to die because of your drugs, I'm putting in your culo a .38 slug."
Kanye West ft. The Game "Crack Music" (2005)
Despite calling out George Bush for not caring about black people during a Katrina benefit, 'Ye isn't know for delving too deeply into socio-political issues. But "Crack Music" doesn't just use the drug as a ghetto signifier, he also lays out the complicity of the black community. "Crack, raised the murder rate in D.C. and Maryland / We, invested in that, it's like we got Merrill Lynched / And we been hangin' from the same tree, ever since."
UGK "Pocket Full Of Stones" (1993)
Legendary Texas duo UGK made their mark outside the Lone Star state with this "Menace II Society" soundtrack cut, which explained the crack era from the perspective of a dealer. Though it sounds boastful, the song balances that with cold-hearted horrors and an eventual prison sentence.
MC Shan "Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing" (1987)
Old-school rapper MC Shan was an early chronicler of crack with this tragic tale of a how promising young girl got hooked and went insane. "In a flick of a flash the torch was lit / She put it to her mouth, and she took a hit / Smoke rushed from her lungs and up to her brain / This was the beginning of the end of Jane."
KRS-One "P Is Still Free" (1993)
Iconic B.D.P. rapper teams up with DJ Premier and rhymes through a series of horrific stories in this "Menace II Society" solo sequel to his former group's 1986 cut "P Is Free," both of which focus on how crack addiction forces women to trade sex for drugs.
Clipse "Nightmares" (2006)
While most mid-2000s crack-rap tried to glorify the drug trade, Clipse elevated their trap-hop with self-loathing over the destruction they couldn't help but contribute to. On the disarmingly smooth "Nightmares," they're joined by Bilal and producer Pharell to explain just how much fear and paranoia have ruined the pleasures they thought money would bring them.
Immortal Technique "Peruvian Cocaine" (2003)
The Peruvian-American rapper traces the drug trade back to its South American roots, pointing out the ravages of the cocaine trade are not exclusive to North American 'hoods. Oh, and he also drops this bon mot: "Players do favors for governors and tax makers / Fat Quakers smoke crack and sex acts with bad mayors," which, well...