Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg.
Ten Crack Commandments by Notorious B.I.G.
Drug Ballad by Eminem.
It’s no question that some of the most famous rap songs of all time feature some similar themes of substance use and abuse. Partying hard with the help of drugs and alcohol is something that is often celebrated in popular music.
For those who consider themselves “outsiders” like many hip hop and rap artists, spinning rhymes about the ups and downs of meth, molly, weed, coke, and many other substances is part of their counterculture.
Some of the most poignant jams in recent years have been put out by sober rappers. Whether finding some deeper truth in sobriety or sharing the struggles of overcoming their addictions through music, a generation of rappers are sharing a message of getting, and staying, clean.
Check out this list of influential hip hop artists who have decided to speak up about their sobriety.
For a rap artist who made his millions on music that glorified substance use, Eminem claims that fatherhood gave him the biggest incentive to get clean. After nearly overdosing in 2007, the Detroit-bred rapper has turned over a new leaf.
He celebrated 10 years of sobriety in 2018, helped Royce da 5’9 kick drugs by mentoring him, and regularly exercises for self-improvement. Eminem also visits a rehab counselor to keep on the straight and narrow.
Grammy winner Macklemore has had a very public battle with drugs. He addresses the struggle of addiction in his music, including the song “Kevin” about a friend he lost to drugs and “Starting Over” which deals with recovering from a relapse.
After on-and-off rehab, he suffered a relapse during his rise in popularity in 2014 but credits his family for helping him get it back together. Of rehabilitation, the famous rapper said, “Addiction – I think that’s the thing that always reminds me I could lose all of this at any minute. If I stop prioritizing the daily recovery program that I do to maintain sobriety… I will lose it all.”
Macklemore headlined for Recovery Fest 2018, which offered naloxone training and counseling services for drug addicts and their families.
Critically acclaimed Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar grew up around people using drugs and alcohol, including witnessing a teenage drug dealer die from gunshot wounds right in front of him at five years old.
Today, Lamar is an advocate for a drug-free lifestyle. He’s spoken out against rappers featuring drugs like molly in their music, warning his peers of their impact and influence on young people. Songs like “Swimming Pools” have explored his relationships with addiction that runs deep in his family.
Tyler the Creator
Inspired by Andre 3000 to live the sober lifestyle, Tyler the Creator has this to say about being drunk:
“I just don’t want to drink. I know that I don’t want to be that drunk guy. But I do know I want to hit a jump on a dirt-bike. I can look at that and say: ‘I want to do that.’ I’ve never seen anyone drunk, like, ‘Damn, I want to be that.’ So, I guess I just naturally got it pushed into my head that I have no reason to go over there and get fucking drunk.”
He famously stubbed out a joint one of his collaborators was smoking during the recording sessions of “Potato Salad” with ASAP Rocky, calling it a distraction. He’s got a “zero drug studio” policy, requiring those working on recording with him to have “healthy minds.”
Sober Rappers Leading the Way
Hip hop remains an influential genre, and with it comes many truthful tales of rappers struggling with their own personal battles. Party anthems may be forever celebrated in hip hop culture, but sober rappers like these are proving that music can have substance without substance abuse.
Many artists like Andre 3000, 50 Cent, Logic, Hopsin, Chamillionaire, and more have been public about their support of sobriety. In a nation where overdose deaths are skyrocketing, some artists are choosing to use their platform as a way to speak out against the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse from a very personal place.
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