Branching off from Tara Henley's post yesterday about the importance of healthy living, which is one of the virtues I've always tried to celebrate in my own writing, I felt today was as good a time as any to discuss what I feel should be the new fourth element of hip-hop.

As mentioned in a previous column, graffiti writing is no longer considered hip-hop, because it's teh ghey. There's better ways to destroy things, if you wanted to, than with a can of spray paint. But my thought as far as that's concerned is that if you want to destroy someone's property, destroy your own fucking property. And before any of you d-bags strike your daily indignant pose, I'd like to see you try that shit in Creve Coeur. Cracka-ass crackas out here don't play that shit.

Not to give the wrong idea to today's youth, but substance abuse is probably the best thing you can do with your time that doesn't involve a woman. Nullus. Nor will it run you as much. Granted, it's not really specific to hip-hop as a cultural activity, but then neither is graffiti writing. But unlike graffiti writing, substance abuse remains a key element of the hip-hop lifestyle to this day. When's the last time you went to a party where motherfuckers were writing graffiti? Meanwhile, a party without drugs and/or alcohol can hardly be considered a hip-hop function.

Furthermore, substance abuse is a cultural activity that more easily lends itself to commercialization than graffiti writing. While drugs pretty much sell themselves, even the most patronizing of guilty white liberals gave up on buying framed graffiti writing a long time ago. And rappers like Jay-Z, Cam'ron, and Jermaine Dupri haven't been known to spray paint shit, but they do have their own brands of alcohol. Imagine the economic force hip-hop would be today if more ghetto youth were to capitalize on the true fourth element of hip-hop, rather than fucking up some building in their own neighborhood.

Of course the knock against this move towards substance abuse as the true fourth element of hip-hop is that it can be seen as bad for today's youth. Already, there have been studies released in the past week suggesting that hip-hop causes kids to drink alcohol. As if that's really the worst thing a kid could be out there doing. I'll still take that over graffiti writing any day of the week. When you spray paint a building, that's destroying another man's property. When you get high and/or drunk, it's only destroying your own worthless ass. Nullus.