“White Lines” – Grandmaster Melle Mel


Probably my favorite song from the early days of hip-hop, “White Lines” by Grandmaster Melle Mel was originally written as an ironic commentary on cocaine-fueled party lifestyles, but later added the “Don’t do it!” line throughout so radio programmers wouldn’t can it for being pro-drug. Though, Melle Mel can’t help but add an additional “Don’t” before “Don’t do it” to add further irony.  And, to push the irony further, Melle Mel advises you shouldn’t do it because so many people are doing cocaine, he finds it difficult to buy now.

The accompanying video was directed by then-NYU film student Spike Lee. It’s not particularly remarkable, but it’s kind of cool to see an early work by a now stellar director. Laurence Fishburne plays the drug dealer in the video. Be warned, the picture quality really stinks.

The famous bassline was borrowed by post-punk band Liquid Liquid from their song Cavern, also included here.