Purple drank is a slang term for a recreational drug popular in the hip hop community in the southern United States, originating in Houston, Texas. Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine. Cough syrup is typically mixed with ingredients such as Sprite soft drink or Mountain Dew and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. The purplish hue of purple drank comes from dyes in the cough syrup.
Houston, Texas producer DJ Screw popularized the concoction, which is widely attributed as a source of inspiration for the "chopped and screwed" style of hip hop music.
Originally, the active ingredient of "syrup" was cough syrup containing
promethazine and codeine. The concoction first gained popularity in the
underground rap scene in Houston, where musician Big Hawk said it was consumed as early as the 1960s and 1970s, becoming more widespread in the early 1990s. Its use later spread to other southern states. Because of usage by rap artists in Houston, it became more popular in the 1990s.
In June 2000, Three 6 Mafia's single "Sippin' on Some Syrup," featuring UGK, brought the term "purple drank" to a nationwide audience.Three 6 Mafia's single "Rainbow Colors" featuring Lil' Flip pertains to the consumption of purple drank; the addition of a Jolly Rancher candy to a cup of purple drank creates a spectrum of colors, hence the name.
In 2004, the University of Texas found that 8.3% of secondary school students in Texas had taken codeine syrup to get high. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports "busts" involving syrup across the southern United States, particularly in Texas and Florida.