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Sober Rapper Reps Recovery in Bars

Timmy Grins tells The Fix about taking his recovery message to the Brooklyn bar scene.

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Photo by Gina Colasurdo

By Victoria Kim

04/05/13

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Hip hop artist and activist Timmy Grins hits the bar scene to rap about addiction and recovery, aiming to reach those who might need to hear his message the most. As part of his tour "LAST CALL 30 MICS 30 NIGHTS," the recent New York transplant is performing in Brooklyn bars every single night in April to promote Alcohol Awareness Month. Grins, 34, is a recovering alcoholic with 12 years sober. And while he doesn't push recovery on anyone, he hopes the message in his music might reach people who are in trouble. "If there's someone sitting in the dark, I'm going to go out there and tell them it's okay," he tells The Fix. Rapping about his own addiction also helps him keep his own recovery on track, by reminding him what it was like. "It keeps me vigilant," he explains, "One wrong move, and you can fall right back to where you were."

Grins says he hit bottom after receiving his third DWI in his early twenties; he then got sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA "was the only think I could think of," he tells us. And eventually it worked: "I used to count the days," he says, "Then, after a year, it just all got to be okay. I realized, this is just who I am." Grins wrote the song "Last Call" about the crisis leading up to his sobriety, with the mission to "help those that are ready to be helped, and encourage those that are not, to reconsider their options." The song became a YouTube sensation in 2010, earning him an invitation to the audience of the Oprah Winfrey Show as a guest of honor. But he says the driving force behind his performing is getting to speak to people who were moved by his message. "Last night, a guy game up to me after my show at The Five Spot," he tells us, "'He goes, 'My brother, I really, really needed to hear that.' I said, 'Thank you. And that's what I needed to hear from you.'"

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