Those results may come as a shock to some listeners who assumed that rap or hip-hop music might reference drugs more, but 1.6 percent of all country music surveyed by Addictions.com’s Song Meanings Application Programming Interface (API) references drugs on average, compared to less than 1.3 percent on average in hip-hop music.
Jazz music came in second place, although the study does not disclose the average percentage.
But what constitutes a drug reference? And what counts as “country” music for Addictions.com? For starters, alcoholic beverages are not classified as drugs in the study (or else, country music would win this by a landslide). According to the methodology of the study, Addictions.com “scraped song lyrics from Song Meanings API and analyzed drug mentions, what drugs were involved, and how it changed over time, and grouped drug slang words together in their respected drug categories.”
After going over the data from songs from country, rock, jazz, rap/hip-hop, pop, folk and electronic genres from 1933 until now, the drug references were grouped into seven categories:
Pills (which includes all Opiates except Heroin, Benzodiazepines, Sleep medication, and ADHD medication), Heroin, Marijuana, LSD, Cocaine (which includes both crack cocaine and cocaine), Ecstasy (This includes MDMA and molly), and Meth.
After all that, country music came out on top, with 1.6 percent of all songs studied since 1933 referencing some sort of drug. According to the study, the top three drugs referenced in country music were marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.
It should be noted that most country songs decry drug consumption (with the exception of alcohol, and, very recently, marijuana). No country artists were mentioned in the study, but artists like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jamey Johnson, John Prine and many others have referenced marijuana, pills, cocaine or heroin in their songs as hazardous and not recreational.
However, once the study results are broken down into the musicians that reference drugs the most, country artists don’t even crack the Top 10. That honor goes to all hip-hop artists, most notably Kottonmouth Kings, Eminem, The Game, Lil’ Wayne and Jay-Z.
If you want to see just how many country music songs reference drugs, take a listen to the playlist below (though we would never condone the use of recreational drugs).