7 Rappers Who Are Sober

BYWyatt Westlake10.0K Views
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PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 20: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY - For Non-Editorial use please seek approval from Fashion House) Tyler, the Creator attends the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2022/2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 20, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)

Rappers have become increasingly more outspoken, revealing their struggles with their addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Hip hop culture heavily promotes alcohol and drugs, from club tracks that endorse "popping bottles" to street anthems that glorify "sipping lean." Some rappers have been vulnerable, exposing the dark side of drug use in their music. Many have penned verses about taking drugs to cope with trauma and depression. Artists including Kid Cudi, Big K.R.I.T., Joe Budden, and Macklemore have discussed the dangers of addiction, sharing their own experiences.

J. Cole’s KOD album even explored the severity of drug abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, drug use in hip hop is nothing new, as we have lost talents like Pimp C, Mac Miller, and Juice WRLD to overdoses. As a result of the toll that addiction can take on an individual, many rappers have become sober and are inspiring others to do so as well. This is a list of rappers who are sober and recovering from former addictions.

Eminem

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Eminem performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Eminem’s struggle with addiction is well-documented. He rapped about drug use on his first few albums, but it was not until after 2004's Encore that he sought help. His 2009 album, Relapse, was a direct result of a relapse following the death of his best friend, rapper Proof. After becoming sober, Eminem reemerged with Recovery, his incredibly successful seventh album chronicling his journey to sobriety. It was a deeply personal album that separated him from his Slim Shady alter ego. It made for his most mature and thoughtful album. On the hit single “Not Afraid,” Eminem raps, “It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me.” The hip hop icon celebrated his 15th year of sobriety earlier this year. He has since helped his fellow rappers with their addictions.

Royce Da 5'9"

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Royce da 5'9'' visits Build Series at Build Studio on May 1, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Royce Da 5’9”, Eminem’s fellow Bad Meets Evil partner and former Slaughterhouse signee, went through his own struggles with alcoholism.  The Detroit lyricist has rapped about his addiction and recovery in his music. On “To Me, To You,” he recalls when he got pulled over for drunk driving, taking “the breathalyzer out of the cop’s hand and trying to drink it.” Royce’s father was addicted to drugs, which he reveals in the heartbreaking “Cocaine.” On the song, he tells his dad, “I'm proud to say that I'm an addict who inherits your pain.” In interviews, Royce Da 5’9” has discussed how Eminem supported his rehabilitation and how he has bettered himself as a result. Royce has been sober since 2012.

Isaiah Rashad

MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE - JUNE 17: Isaiah Rashad performs during the 2022 Bonnaroo Music & Arts festival on June 17, 2022 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

During the gap between his 2014 debut, Cilvia Demo, and 2016’s The Sun’s Tirade, Isaiah Rashad was dealing with an addiction to pills and alcohol. His addiction was severe to the point where he admitted he was almost dropped fromhis label, Top Dawg Entertainment. Isaiah Rashad’s alcoholism continued after The Sun’s Tirade, resulting in an even longer gap between albums before eventually quitting drinking and smoking in 2019. After spending time in rehab, his third album, 2021’s The House is Burning, was recorded completely sober.

Kendrick Lamar

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JULY 24: Rapper Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during day three of Rolling Loud Miami 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium on July 24, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Kendrick Lamar is one of the few rappers on this list that does not indulge in substances. His decision to abstain from drugs is based on an experience with cocaine-laced marijuana that he detailed in his song “m.A.A.d. city.” He raps, “And they wonder why I rarely smoke now, imagine if your first blunt had you foaming at the mouth.” Unlike fellow Black Hippy members Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick rarely raps about drugs in his music. When he has, the songs have been cautionary tales of drug usage, such as the pressures of drinking on “Swimming Pools (Drank)” or his choice to not smoke on “Mother I Sober.”

Vince Staples

INDIO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: Vince Staples performs at the Sahara Tent at 2022 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival weekend 1 - day 3 on April 17, 2022 in Indio, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella)

Like Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples has avoided taking drugs and drinking alcohol. The Long Beach, California rapper’s decision to stay sober stems from the traumatic events he witnessed during his childhood. In an appearance on Drink Champs, Vince expressed that he never wanted to get caught with drugs and always wanted to stay alert when growing up in an area filled with gang violence. Additionally, he elaborated that his father was addicted to drugs and did not want to follow the same path. 

Tyler, The Creator

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Rapper Tyler, The Creator attends the 2019 French Tennis Open - Day Fourteen at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Unlike some of his fellow Odd Future members, Tyler, The Creator made a deliberate decision to not smoke or drink. On “Cowboy,” he raps, “Everybody’s sparking but me, and I keep coughing / Can’t keep calm in this spot’s hot box and I’m getting nauseous.” Tyler’s choice to not take substances is partly due to his asthma, and that he does not have any desire to indulge. In an interview with Fantastic Man, he recalled when he told someone to stop smoking in the studio. He further expressed that he has never once wanted to get drunk. 

Danny Brown

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 30: Danny Brown performs in concert during Primavera Sound Festival on May 30, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Xavi Torrent/WireImage)

One of the more recent examples of a rapper opening up about their experience with addiction is Danny Brown. In a recent episode of The Danny Brown Show, he revealed his drinking problem, his experience in rehab, and how it gave him a new outlook on life. Many of his biggest songs had previously promoted drug use, referring to himself as “the Adderall Admiral.” On his podcast, Danny Brown expressed gratitude for his rap career and loyal fanbase. Last month, Brown posted a tweet with a screenshot that marked the milestone of being 90 days sober. The post read, “Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, it’s never too late to change. If I can do it, anyone can. God is Good.”

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.