It turns out that some of the most famous and successful rappers of all time don’t drink alcohol or take drugs.
This article will introduce you to some of our generation’s sober rappers. Call them straight edge, call them teetotal – these guys have discovered that alcohol and drugs don’t do them any good.
Many rappers are known for celebrating drink and drugs, from smoking weed, to sipping lean, to popping Xanax. But there are plenty of rappers who find that life is better without substances.
As you’ll see, the reasons these rappers have for staying sober are varied. Some come from a background of substance abuse and have seen the damage it can do. Some have personally struggled with addiction and needed to get clean to get their life in order. And others abstain simply so that they can function at the highest level.
Let’s jump in and find out about the sober rappers who are shunning drugs and liquor today.
50 Cent may have briefly dealt drugs as a youth, but he has always refrained from using them himself. In a CNN interview, Fifty said that he has always “stayed away” after seeing family members use substances and witnessing the effect it had on them.
In his book Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter he discusses how, to this day, he abstains from alcohol. He writes “I’ll pour drinks from a bottle of Champagne for everyone who is in VIP with me. When the bottle is empty, I’ll give it to one of my guys and have him quietly refill it with ginger ale… I’ll take swigs every now and then just to keep the vibe right, but I’m not drinking anything but Canada Dry.”
No doubt the rapper and businessman’s sobriety has helped him in his ventures, which have seen him become one of the most successful rappers of his generation.
One of Kendrick Lamar’s first big hits, ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ addressed some of his experiences with alcohol and his feelings towards it.
The song describes party scenes where he is gradually getting drunk, with fellow partygoers encouraging him to drink more: “why you babysittin’ only two or three shots? I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch / first you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.”
However, Kendrick’s “conscience” kicks in and warns him that if he isn’t careful he will “be history.”
The theme of sobriety comes up come again in his song ‘Mother I Sober’ on his 2022 album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. He raps: “I was never high, I was never drunk / never out my mind, I need control / They handed me some smoke, but still I declined / I did it sober, sitting with myself / I went through all emotions, no dependents.”
In these lines, Kendrick addresses how sobriety meant he has faced emotions head on, rather than masking them with substances.
Gucci Mane’s’ story with alcohol and drugs is one of radical transformation. In an interview with the New York Times in 2016, the trap legend described that he had not been fully sober since the age of 21. He would drink alcohol, lean, ecstasy, and prescription pills.
In this interview he openly described himself as an addict, and described his experience: “I felt like I couldn’t make music sober, I couldn’t enjoy my money sober. Why would I wanna go to a club and couldn’t smoke or drink? I felt like sex wouldn’t be good sober. I associated everything with being high.”
His sobriety also spelt the beginning of better health and fitness for the rapper, who shed some serious weight. If recent pictures are anything to go by, it looks like Guwop has stayed sober.
Eminem has often discussed his struggles with addiction in his music. After nearly dying from an overdose in 2007, the influential rapper has now been sober for nearly fifteen years at the time of writing. He first got clean in April 2008.
At the peak of his addiction, the rapper reveals that he was taking 75 to 80 valium per night. He opens up about his experience in his album Recovery (2010).
Speaking with the New York Times he revealed that he was heavily using of vicodin, valium, ambien, and methadone – the latter of which caused the overdose. “I didn’t know it was methadone,” he said. “I used to get pills wherever I could. I was just taking anything that anybody was giving to me.”
Eminem is now well-known not only as one of the most influential rappers of all time, but as a rapper who is continuing to overcome his struggle with addiction.
Tyler The Creator
Tyler, The Creator’s story with alcohol and drugs is a little different to some others on this list. While many of the rappers on this have either dabbled or gone deep into addiction, Tyler, The Creator has basically never been tempted.
The rap pioneer and Odd Future founder put it plainly in an interview with Converse, saying, “I just never wanted to drink. It’s just something that didn’t interest me.”
His candid observation about the effects of alcohol is compelling. In an interview with MAN magazine he said, “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 f****** drunk.”
Tyler also revealed that he has tried weed twice, and that was more than enough for him to be convinced that he will never try it again.
Aside from generally not being interested in intoxicating substances, Tyler has also mentioned that he has an addictive personality, as well as the financial means to support unbridled indulgence – meaning there is nothing to gain and a lot to lose from dabbling.
Clearly, sobriety has not dampened Tyler’s creativity. He is celebrated as one of the most innovative hip-hop artists of our generation.
Prolific songwriter and rapper Pharrell Williams is one of the most important figures in the music industry of the past two decades.
Not only has he found massive success both a solo and featured artist, but along with Chad Hugo, he penned some of the biggest hits of the 00s and 10s as The Neptunes.
He told Paper Magazine in “Everybody else can do what they want, but that stuff isn’t for me. I’ve been drunk nine times in my life, and I ate some weed brownies once.”
That did not, however, stop Pharrell from famously launched a women-focused liquer, Qream, in 2011. Pharrell intended the drink “to celebrate the beautiful, independent, and sophisticated women of today.” He later entered a legal battle against Diageo, who, he claimed, promoted it as a “club drink,” which was not his intention.
Macklemore has frequently opened up about his struggles with addiction, which started at a young age. As he revealed to Today, “From the very start, I had the allergy where one wasn’t enough, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.”
In the same interview, the artist discussed the common misconception that drugs and alcohol fuel creativity. “That has never been my experience,” he says. “When I use drugs and alcohol, I shut off. I have a veil over my eyes. I can’t see the truth anymore. I sit on the couch and play PlayStation with my friends. Maybe I’ll be freestyling in a park, but in terms of making albums, it’s going to be impossible.”
On the other hand, says Macklemore, “When I’m sober, I’m prolific and productive.”
Like many, the artist struggled during the Covid pandemic, and during lockdown he relapsed. However, he cleaned up, and now works with CLEAN Cause – a sparkling yerba mate brand, who donate towards supporting addiction recovery.
In his interview with Today he says, “To people who are struggling right now, recovery starts with being honest with yourself, and then seeking help. The natural tendency as someone with active addiction is to hide, to lie, to manipulate. It is a disease of secrecy, shame and guilt. It’s so important that we’re honest with ourselves and with our loved ones.”
Jack Harlow has rapidly shot to fame in recent years, and in 2021 he embraced sobriety. Unlike many of the rappers on this list, he claimed that he didn’t have a problem with alcohol, but abstains to keep his “priorities aligned.”
The rapper first went sober in 2021, stating on an Instagram post, “Haven’t had a single sip of alcohol in 2021. Going the rest of the year without it. Maybe I’ll never take another sip, who knows?… My favorite vice was definitely drinking (I don’t like to smoke) but if I learned anything this year it’s that I don’t need it.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone he explained his motivations further, saying, “I’m sick of waking up with a dry throat, sick of feeling bloated, I’m sick of the decisions I make on it.”
For Harlow, sobriety is part of being responsible and mature. He continues, “I can see my future right in front of me. And I feel there’s so many people counting on me outside of myself… I just feel like I’m a man. I don’t feel like I need to do boyish things anymore.”
Kid Cudi is well-known for addressing themes of addiction in his music, and in interviews he has revealed more about his personal struggles with substance abuse.
After struggling with cocaine, Kid Cudi first went to rehab in 2016 aged 32. He has described the shame and isolation he felt, taking drugs alone and hiding it from other people.
“It was a very private thing,” he explained. “I was dealing with my shit alone. I never did drugs around a bunch of people. I really went out my way to keep what I was going through hidden because I was ashamed.”
In a 2022 interview with Self, he discussed how avoiding overworking, limiting his use of social media, and feeling inspired and motivated by his daughter help him to stay clean.
According to his own social media posts Ice-T is pretty much – if not entirely – sober.
The esteemed rapper and actor may have launched his own liquor brand – Original Gangster XO Brandy – back in 2010, but in recent years, it would seem that he himself is not drinking the stuff.
In a tweet in 2015 he stated, “Ice Fact: I have zero tattoos. Have never smoked weed or cigarettes. And don’t drink alcohol…. Now THATS Gangsta…”
And in a tweet in 2022 he said, “I’ve ALWAYS been the sober one in the crew… I survived growing up in possibly one of the Dangerous hoods in the US.. Gang Infested South Central LA… I’m always extremely aware of my surroundings.”
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