Of the many strange performances that the Offenbach rapper Haftsperre has already made in his long career full of strange performances, last summer was perhaps the strangest. Laid down is a good keyword. Video footage showed Aykut Anhan collapsing in Mannheim, clinging to the edge of the stage, finding his balance with difficulty, then throwing down the microphone and ending his performance after just under a minute.
The canceled gig was followed shortly thereafter by the canceled tour - which significantly fueled speculation not only about his health but also about his possibly out-of-control drug use. Anhan himself ended the speculation relatively quickly, he explained in a brief statement that he had consumed too much laughing gas and that he would now take a break. Now he has expanded the story in more detail in an interview with RTL, he, Anhan, consumed nitrous oxide intensively for three months and felt like a zombie. Now he's campaigning for the best way to ban the substance known as nitrous oxide. After all, it is easy for everyone to buy. For example in cartridges for spray cream spray. Rarely has a drug confession been more bizarre.
Drugs, as an integral part of the pop-cultural trinity (sex, rock 'n' roll, etc.), are anything but a new phenomenon. They play a more or less central role in really all music-driven subcultures, yes, you can also learn something about the respective social sensitivities on the basis of the drugs consumed at a certain time. The use of semi-synthetic hallucinogens underlay the need for a spiritual shift coupled with the spiritual self-discovery that constituted the late 1960s and the sound of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Heroin was the drug of Generation X that satiated a desperate desire for physical destruction and intoxication while still draping the veil of depression over grunge. You probably couldn't have endured techno in your head if you hadn't sedated yourself into a coma with colorful pills beforehand.
In the cultural history of hip hop, too, the range of drugs consumed always corresponded to the respective genre-specific zeitgeist. With the early, musically relaxed old-school hip-hop, cannabis was of course smoked, while with the triumph of hyper-masculine gangstar rap, cocaine was used, which confirmed the madly imagined omnipotence of its protagonists. But in the 2010s there was a paradigm shift. With the advent of cloud rap, and with it an increasingly introspective, introspective sound that captured the fears and depressions of an affluent generation, the need shifted from high to stoned. Sedatives, anxiolytics and opiates are the amphetamines of the new century and a new rap generation around Juice WRLD and Lil Peep provided the right sound for consumption. Or the sound that has become consumption, who knows?
In this context, codeine became the central fashion drug in the late 2010s, as it goes hand in hand with the rejuvenation of the genre. The performers and their target audience were now in their mid-teens, and codeine, even for them, is readily available as a component of cough syrup at any American pharmacy. This development came to an end for the time being during the corona pandemic, as the imposed lockdown measures and the deprivation of endless leisure opportunities were now numb enough for a sensory-overwhelmed generation.
And now? laughing gas? If you were to aim for it, then you could actually overinterpret the short nitrous oxide kick, which lasts only a few seconds, as a zeitgeist phenomenon that satisfies the needs of the TikTok generation, whose ever-shortening attention spans constantly need new dopamine kicks requires. But honestly, on closer inspection, the nitrous oxide phenomenon is just a popular media exaggeration, just like the dangerous "trend" of sniffing glue or sticking a tampon soaked in vodka in some orifice of the body... Oh, everyone may google for themselves what was written a few years ago.
Of course, that doesn't mean that it can't all be dangerous somehow and somewhere, but kids do things that kids do and, yes, even in a hypersensitive world where every banality can still be turned into a scandal, it seems like a dystopian joke that our youth is now ending up in a nitrous oxide coma - or that someone is now seriously discussing banning spray cream bottles, which fortunately no one is doing yet, even if a gangster rapper is now demanding it. (Please let that melt on your so-called tongue).
It is the least of all imaginable worries that one should have in the face of completely different problems in the future about the young, but certainly not the last generation. For an arrest warrant to consume fifty bottles of nitrous oxide a day and be unable to play his tour as a result... well, that may also suggest fundamentally different issues that he still needs to analyze. On the other hand, speaking of a social problem, as the first media are already doing, should not be expedient. Because the old mod wisdom still applies here, which has lost nothing of its correctness even after the third laughing gas kick: The kids are alright.