White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)

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"White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)"
Single by Grandmaster Melle Mel
Released 1983
Format Vinyl (12")
Recorded 1983
Genre Old school hip hop
Label Sugar Hill Records
Writer(s) Melle Mel, Sylvia Robinson
Producer(s) Joey Robinson, Jr., Melle Mel, Sylvia Robinson

"White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" is a hip-hop-funk song by Melle Mel, released as a 12" in 1983 on Sugar Hill Records. The song, which warns against the dangers of cocaine, addiction, and drug smuggling, is one of Melle Mel's signature tracks. The bassline is sampled from a performance of the Sugar Hill house band (featuring bassist Doug Wimbish) covering "Cavern", a single by post-punk band Liquid Liquid.[1] [2]


When originally released on Sugarhill, the record was credited to Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel (some international issues also carried the same credit). This was done to mislead the general public into believing that Grandmaster Flash participated on the record,[3] when in fact he played no part and had already left the Sugar Hill Records label the previous year.

"White Lines" peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in 1983.[4] The song fared better in the United Kingdom, reaching number 7 on the UK Singles Chart in July 1984, spending 17 consecutive weeks in the top 40. It was the 13th best-selling single of 1984 in the UK, selling more than several number one hits that year.

The song was co-written by Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson. Originally, it was intended to be an ironic celebration of a cocaine-fueled party lifestyle, but it was abridged with the "don't do it" message as an anti-cocaine song as a concession to commercial considerations.[5]

The lines "A businessman is caught with 24 kilos / He's out on bail and out of jail and that's the way it goes" refers to car manufacturer John DeLorean, who in 1982 became entrapped in a scheme to save his company from bankruptcy using drug money.[6] Some of the lyrics in "White Lines" ("something of a phenomenon") echoed lyrics from the song "Cavern" by Liquid Liquid ("slipping in and out of phenomenon") from which the famous bassline was borrowed. As discussed in a 2011 article in the Village Voice, the entire "White Lines" was a note-by-note appropriation of "Cavern", with a rapping track overlaid.

An unofficial music video was directed by then New York University film student Spike Lee and starred actor Laurence Fishburne.[7]

In 1988, the song was used as part of an anti-heroin public information film in the United Kingdom.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
UK Singles Chart[8] 7
U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles[4] 47

Duran Duran version[edit]

"White Lines (Don't Do It)"
Single by Duran Duran featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel
from the album Thank You
B-side "Save a Prayer", "None of the Above"
Released 1995
Format 12", MC, CD
Recorded 1995
Genre Alternative rock, rap rock
Length 5:31
Label EMI, Capitol - DD 19
Writer(s) Melle Mel, Sylvia Robinson
Duran Duran chronology
"Perfect Day"
"White Lines"
"Out of My Mind"

A 1995 cover version of "White Lines," featuring performances from Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, was released as the second single from the Duran Duran covers album Thank You. The single reached No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 5 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs chart, No. 20 on the Australia and No. 31 in New Zealand. The band continued to perform the song as a regular part of their live set into the 2000s.

This single had more promo releases than most bands have releases, and across this myriad of 12" and CD singles the band released more than 20 distinct remixes and edits of "White Lines", many of which were crafted by DJ Junior Vasquez. Apart from the singles and the Thank You album, the song also appeared as a B-side on the first single from the album, "Perfect Day".

A black and white video was shot in January 1995 by Nick Egan,[9] featuring Duran Duran, Melle Mel, and the Furious Five performing the song accompanied by breakdancers and people in skeleton masks.

On July 8, 2009, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson did a lip-sync version of the Duran Duran cover featuring puppets on backing vocals.

Other versions[edit]


The song "White Lines" has been sampled in many other songs, including:


  1. ^ "White lines (don't don't do it) samples Cavern". WhoSampled.com. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Liquid Liquid haven't lost their edge". villagevoice.com.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Hartsfeld, Jermaine (2002-06-11). "Grandmaster Flash Interview". JayQuan.com. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  4. ^ a b Billboard Artist chart history: Grandmaster Flash
  5. ^ Brewster, Bill; Frank Broughton. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
  6. ^ White Lines Songfacts
  7. ^ White Lines video by Spike Lee
  8. ^ "Chart Stats - Grandmaster Flash And Melle Mel". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  9. ^ Music Video Database: "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)"

External links[edit]