Reporting Erik Parker
Lil Wayne‘s recent health scare, sparked by multiple seizures, has called into question the rapper’s use of Sizzurp, the promethazine and codeine drink mixture that is known to cause death.
The drink cocktail, which has been popularized by Wayne and other rappers, includes soda and sometimes dissolved jolly rancher candies. And while Wayne’s camp has denied that his Sizzurp consumption contributed to his seizures and lengthy stay in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s ICU, medical experts say seizures can be caused by intense drug use.
“When you mix promethazine with codeine, you lower the seizure threshold,” Mike Bloom, CEO of Pasadena Recovery, told Radio.com. “When it’s mixed with Jolly Ranchers and soda, it tastes good and you can easily take too much of it. That’s likely what he’s doing, he’s not aware of how much he’s taking. But it can make seizure more likely.”
On Monday (March 18), with plenty of speculation about Wayne’s use of Sizzurp floating around, his mentor Birdman rejected the claims. He insisted the seizures were not a result of drug use.
“Honestly, it’s his work ethic,” Birdman said during a radio interview on Monday (March 18). ”[It's] how hard he works and how much dedication he gives his music and fans and what he’s trying to accomplish in life. Had nothing to do with drugs.”
Despite the Cash Money boss’ claim, Wayne has never made his Sizzurp-sipping a secret. Wayne laces his raps with references to the concoction, often referred to as lean or purp, for its purple color or syrup.
Wayne has made numerous references to his Styrofoam cup filled with lean. Some are celebratory, but other times he takes a turn toward the morbid.
He opens Playaz Circle‘s 2007 song “Duffle Bag Boy” with a confession: “Weed and Syrup, ’til I die,” he says. “As a matter of fact, it’s gonna kill me.”
On ”I Feel Like Dying” he paints a trippy world filled with narcotics, an alternative to Charlie’s chocolate factory: “Swimming laps around a bottle of Louis the Thirteenth/Jumpin’ off of a mountain into a sea of Codeine”
While Wayne isn’t alone in his Sizzurp promotion (perhaps the best known ode-to-Sizzurp is Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ On Some Sizzurp” from 2000), he is certainly the biggest name in rap to unabashedly associate himself with the drink.
The Carter, a documentary shot by Quincy Jones’ filmmaker son, QDIII, captured moments with Wayne and his ubiquitous cup. Wayne took QDIII to court to block the film’s release because he felt there was too much emphasis on the rapper’s drug use.
In one scene, Wayne explains that the Vitamin Water bottle he has with him is neither vitamins nor water.
“Man, this is syrup. Ain’t no damn Vitamin Water,” he says, shaking the liquid. “Vitamin Water ain’t that thick. Sizzurp.”
In another scene, his manager Cortez Bryant explains the destructive nature of Wayne’s drug use.
“I was ready to walk away, I gave him an ultimatum,” Bryant said. “That s*** hurts me. That’s the reason I don’t ride on the bus. I can’t look at him in that state for too long, it hurts me. I don’t supply it. I told him don’t ask me to get it.”
Syrup-sipping first started making the rounds in hip-hop circles when rappers from the South began to speak of lean. In 2000, the rap community received a wake-up call when popular Texas-based music pioneer DJ Screw died of an overdose of syrup.
“The Sizzurp in combination with Benzodiazopine is like the old days of John Belushi speed-baling with heroine and cocaine,” Bloom said. “It’s that serious. But the problem is it doesn’t sound as serious. There is an over abundance of supply of prescription pills. Doctors are making lots of money too. So it’s always in his hand.”
Early reports from TMZ claimed that rapper was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles last Tuesday (March 12) for seizures. While Wayne was reportedly released from the hospital on Tuesday (March 19), TMZ was criticized for reporting that Wayne was being read his last rites and removing the post without notice or explanation.
“They freaked the world out with that,” Birdman said. “TMZ, I don’t do the blog thing [but] we got family and kids. When you are putting out false rumors like that you can damage families like that or have them feared.”