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What is in the "cough syrup" that is associated with hip-hop culture?
Q: I was just watching an MTV2 documentary on Houston hip hop culture, specifically "chopped and screwed" music. They briefly mentioned that a part of hip hop culture was drinking cough syrup while listening to this slowed down and chopped up music. Does this refer to DXM-containing cough syrup?

A: There are a number of different types of "cough syrup", each with different active ingredients or combinations. A number of these are used recreationally.

"Chopped and screwed" music (originally called "screwed and chopped") is a slowed-down style of hip-hop first made popular in the 1990s by DJ Screw. The "syrup", "sizzurp", or "lean" mentioned in relation to this music most often refers to prescription-only cough syrup, containing codeine and/or promethazine, mixed with jolly ranchers and sprite, or fruit punch. It is often purple in color.

There is also a second type of cough syrup that is used recreationally in a similar way, though not as commonly. This (yellow) syrup contains chlorpheniramine, hydrocodone, and phenylephrine and is marketed under the brand name Histinex. It too is generally mixed with fruit punch or a soft drink.

DJ Screw died of a codeine and other drug overdose in 2000. The news articles from 2001 reporting Screw's death incorrectly refer to "the syrup" as "the prescription-only codeine [or 'codeine-containing'] cough medicine Promethazine". Promethazine does not contain codeine. Promethazine is the generic name for a sedating, anti-nausea chemical that is often combined with codeine in cough syrups. Cough syrups called "Promethazine VC" contain promethazine in combination with codeine. Those called "Promethazine DM" contain promethazine and DXM. Many rap or hip hop resources which attempt to describe "syrup" confuse codeine and promethazine.


Rap Dictionary entry for 'Screwed and chopped'

Rap Dictionary entry for 'Syrup'

MTV: Codeine Overdose Killed DJ Screw, Medical Examiner Says

RxList: Promethazine


1.0 - First published

1.5 - Added info about Histinex

Asked By : Jon
Answered By : Spoon, Fire
Published Date : 2 / 22 / 2006
Last Edited Date : 10 / 1 / 2007
Question ID : 3105

Categories: [ Codeine ] [ DXM ] [ Slang ] [ Promethazine ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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