On May 12th, Chance the Rapper released his new mixtapey-album, Coloring Book. Besides his undeniable rapping talent, many people became attracted to the fusion of gospel music, and all the references that us 90’s kids could truly appreciate. His song, “Same Drugs,” quickly became a favorite with many listeners wondering, “What drug is Chance talking about?”
Chance gave us a major clue.
Hm. Not drugs, you say?
On the surface, the song is a nostalgic ballad about someone reminiscing on past experiences with a significant other, including the usage of drugs. I thought it worked on this level. You could picture Chance missing smoking weed with an ex because she either gave up doing drugs or began doing more hardcore ones. Both assumptions would bring out the repeated line in the chorus, “We don’t do the same drugs no more.”
But the song “isn’t about drugs.” So why Chance? Why call the song “Same Drugs”? Why have that be the repeated line in the chorus?
Option A: Missing doing the same drugs with someone serves as a strong metaphor for missing doing anything with someone.
Option B: That feeling you get during drug usage is similar to the nostalgia one might feel while missing someone.
I’ve seen both arguments, but I don’t buy either. They both have their flaws and Chance is smarter than that.
I went back to the song and listened again (not even looking for a deeper meaning, but) to try to keep drugs out of my mind while hearing it and see what came about. If you happened to miss the title of this post, I think I found the answer.
The first thing you notice while listening are the Peter Pan references and they come at you in the first 15 seconds. His opening verse is:
“When did you change?
Wendy, you’ve aged.
I thought you’d never grow up
I thought you’d never…
Window closed, Wendy got old
I was too late, I was too late
A shadow of what I once was.”
As a Disney fanatic, I immediately picture Peter Pan looking through a window at an older Wendy.
It’s a classic analogy and coincides with one person missing more innocent times with another.
He follows up this verse with the “We don’t do the same drugs no more” chorus, but then returns to more Peter Pan allusions in the next verse.
“Where did you go?
Why would you stay?
You must have lost your marbles
You always were so forgetful
In a hurry, don’t wait up
I was too late, I was too late
A shadow of what I once was
Cause we don’t, we don’t do what we say we’re gonna
You were always perfect, and I was only practice
Don’t you miss the days, stranger?
Don’t you miss the days?
Don’t you miss the danger?”
This is Peter (Chance) continuing to sing to Wendy. Wondering where she went. Thoughts on what was. And then questions of what she misses. “Don’t you miss the danger?” is of course referring to a Neverland and a time when they were together.
“Don’t forget the happy thoughts
All you need is happy thoughts
The past tense, past bed time
Way back then when everything we read was real
And everything we said rhymed
Wide eyed kids being kids
Why did you stop?
What did you do to your hair?
Where did you go to end up right back here?
When did you start to forget how to fly?”
The finale of the song has Peter reminding Wendy not to forget the happy thoughts and asking her when she forgot “how to fly”. I think it’s both powerful and telling. Wendy has grown older and her decrease in happiness has led her to forgetting how to fly, something Chance misses dearly.
But if you’ve seen the 1953 Peter Pan movie, then you know that some times it takes a little extra substance to fly… A drug-esque substance…
Yes. Pixie Dust. The song isn’t about drugs (as Chance said). Chance in every verse references Peter Pan, and that doesn’t stop in the chorus. When he’s singing, “We don’t do the same drugs no more,” he’s really singing, “We don’t do pixie dust to fly no more.” He’s saying that he misses the time when they were young and innocent and had the ability to fly.
In this instance, drugs are a great metaphor. If there are drugs out there that can figuratively make you fly, then they can serve as a great placeholder for pixie dust that literally does it. I think the song best showcases Chance’s ability as a songwriter. He even spoke on his Reddit about how much work he put into it.
I liked the song during my original play-through, but it has grown into my favorite on the project and one of my favorites of the year. I think a lot of that is due to the Peter Pan allusions and the pixie dust revelation.
What truly hits home though is the feeling that as much as Chance is looking back on the past, he’s still hoping to take one more flight with Wendy (something a lot of people can relate too). If that’s the case then here’s hoping the Peter character can get another “chance” at doing the “same drugs” with Wendy one more time and fly. A wise man once said, all you need is faith, trust, and “a little bit of pixie dust.”