Cocaine Bear, an outlandish film about a 500-pound black bear who ingests an insane amount of cocaine and goes berserk (and rightfully so), hit theaters nationwide February 24. Shortly before its release, Pusha T dropped a remix to Melle Mel’s 1983 hit “White Lines (Don’t Do It),” the aptly titled “White Lines (Cocaine Bear Remix).”
Using the infectious bassline and soaring chorus from the 1983 version, the Coke Rap king delivered his short yet sweet interpretation to a welcoming audience—most importantly, the original song’s creator. Before Melle Mel started to trend over his dogmatic comments about Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, he spoke to AllHipHop about the remix and gave it his approval.
“I think it’s just a great testament to the legacy of the group and myself to make a record that’s 40 years old that can still be relevant,” he said. “It’s an iconic record. Again, it’s just a testament to how well our music was written and produced. It’s been in numerous movies and Duran Duran did the record over. Mobb Deep used it, too. Even up to right now with it being in Cocaine Bear and Pusha T doing the remake, it’s a testament to how powerful our music was and the imprint that it left and is still leaving within the music business.
“Hats off to everybody involved—E.T. Thorngren who mixed the record, Sylvia Robinson at Sugar Hill Records and arranger Reggie Griffin. We got in the lab and we came out with something that stood the test of time. Congratulations to everybody.”
Fellow Grandmaster Five & The Furious Five member Scorpio is equally as proud of the record. To see someone as prolific in modern day rap as Pusha T put his fingerprint on it only lends the song’s long-lasting lore more credence.
“To see this after all of the years is just incredible,” he told AllHipHop. “We’re talking 40 years. For it to stand the test of time and to see all the artists like Duran Duran, Mobb Deep and Pusha T who keep recycling it is just an honor. To be part of a great iconic song like that, I think Melle Mel really hit that one out the park when it comes to putting the pen to the pad. Touring the world, believe it or not—and they love ‘The Message,’ obviously it’s an iconic record—we have a lot of fun when we do ‘White Lines.’ It’s takes on a whole new life when we perform it now. Before it was a party record and still kind of serious, but now, it’s like when Sugarhill Gang does ‘Apache.’ Like it was an OK record, but when Will Smith put his twist to it and the dance, it gave it life.
“That’s the same way it is with us when we perform ‘White Lines.’ It’s a whole new energy to it. It’s incredible and fun to watch. Even though me and Melle have known each other since 4th grade, it’s still an honor to hit the stage together. I know we come from a group, but when things weren’t going right and real cool with the rest of the group, we remained friends. Not saying we don’t go through our s###, but we had that foundation. When basically everybody else in the group, our friendship was just based on the music. When the music didn’t go right, things didn’t go right. Now, the 40th anniversary, we’re about to go on this White Lines Tour and hit the road with Kurtis Blow and the Sugarhill Gang. It’s a great time to be celebrating “White Lines.” See you on tour.”
“White Lines (Don’t Do It)” peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart in 1983. In the U.K., it reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart the following year and spent 17 consecutive weeks in the Top 40. The song warns about the dangers of cocaine addiction, which, of course, was a big issue in the ’80s.
“Pound for pound costs more than gold,” Melle raps. “The longer you stay, the more you pay/My white lines go a long way/Either up your nose or through your vein/With nothin to gain except killing your brain.”
Unfortunately for the black bear in the film, he was unable to avoid the tragic aftermath of cocaine use. Perhaps he should’ve yielded to Melle Mel’s advice: “Don’t do it!”