Top 10 Sober Rappers

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Top 10 Sober Rappers

By Brian Whitney 10/21/16

From Eminem to Andre 3000, the real rebels in rap music could be said to be those who not only don’t rap about the culture of getting wasted, but who are also clean and sober in their real lives.

Image: 
Joe Budden
Some choose to be drug-free, others are in recovery.

Partying and rap music seem to go together as naturally as eggs and bacon. The history of dropping rhymes about getting totally messed up runs deep. Whether it be Snoop rapping about Gin and Juice, Grandmaster Melle Mel going off on White Lines or the Pharcyde telling us that everything is okay, because Quinton's On The Way with another J, rapping about getting blasted out of your mind is much more the norm than the exception. Artists like Method Man, Cypress Hill and many others have made a living off having their personas tied to drug use. And it's not just booze and weed that are being rhymed about. Molly, codeine, cocaine, meth and pretty much anything else you can imagine come up on a regular basis in hip hop.

Hip hop and its culture are made up of those who call themselves outsiders. While this may be true, the real rebels in rap music could be said to be those who not only don’t rap about the culture of getting wasted, but who are also clean and sober in their real lives. 

We decided to take a look at those hip hop artists who don’t do drugs. Some of them are in recovery, while others just choose the sober lifestyle. 

 

10. Tyler, The Creator

Incase/Wikimedia

While Tyler, The Creator is obviously a rather wild dude in many ways, using drugs is not one of them. He has been very open about how he keeps it clean, both in public appearances and in his work. In his song Domo23 he raps ”and while y’all are rolling doobies, I be in my bedroom scoring movies.” Tyler was also a member of the young hip hop collective Odd Future, and you know there were some drugs flowing around there, but as Tyler said in an appearance on Arsenio Hall about his lack of drug use: “Some things aren’t for everyone.”

 

9. Logic

Nick Mahar/Wikimedia

Sometimes when someone is brought up in a horrible environment fraught with violence and drug use, the person buys into that lifestyle, but other times that lifestyle is the impetus to live a life that is sober and peaceful. Maryland rapper Logic grew up with a mother who battled addiction and worked as a prostitute, and a father who was addicted to drugs and used to get crack from one of his brothers. While Logic used for a while, he is now sober. He said in an interview with the Village Voice that his parents gave him a lesson on “what not to do.”

 

8. Lecrae

Reach Records Management/Wikimedia

Lecrae (left) is a rapper who identifies as a Christian and is the leader of a non-profit called ReachLife ministries whose goal it is to mentor urban youth, so you might think he doesn't have a whole lot of experience with drugs. But you would be wrong. Lecrae grew up poor in Houston, Texas, and turned to drug dealing and other criminal activities at an early age. He was a heavy drug user before he converted to Christianity. He recently wrote on Twitter: “I'm not bitter I'm sober. I'm not hateful I'm hopeful.”

 

7. J. Cole

 

Kirstenmgreene/Wikimedia

A good example of how drug use, and in particular marijuana, fuels the commercial side of rap is the story of J. Cole. A lot of rappers write songs about partying just to draw people in. He used to rap a lot about smoking weed to keep his fans in the loop, but was never really into doing it himself. He eventually phased it out of his music just like he had previously phased it out of his life. He once said in an interview, “I just had a phase toward the end of college. That was my phase, but it was never for me."  

 

6. Joe Budden

Mikamote/Wikimedia

Joe Budden, a rapper who is best known for his work with the hip hop group Slaughterhouse, says “I don’t do drugs. Period. Some people can function, I’m just dysfunctional and self-destructive.” His biggest issues were with MDMA. Budden has been very open about his experience. He even broke it down for Fox News. “I didn’t see a problem that maybe five days would go by without me sleeping. I didn’t see a problem that maybe I was hallucinating at times. I didn’t see a problem that I just could not get up and walk sometimes.” Thankfully Budden eventually saw the problem and chose sobriety. 

 

5. André 3000

David Shankbone/Wikimedia

When it comes to music, clothing or even women, André 3000—one half of the ridiculously popular duo OutKast—is known for being someone who is more than willing to experiment. This used to be the case when it came to partying as well, but not so much anymore. "I actually looked in the mirror and saw myself deteriorating," André 3000 told VIBE in 2012. "I was like, 'Man, we're doing too much. Way too much.'"

 

4. Macklemore

Drew of The Come Up Show/Wikimedia

Macklemore’s struggles with addiction are well chronicled. He has been very open about his use, his recovery, and his slip-ups along the way. He once said in an interview with MTV: "The thing that pulled me back was knowing that I wanted to be a musician, and that if I wanted to do this I had to get sober. So I'd go a month and be sober, make a bunch of music and then fall back off and vanish for a couple months and go back and forth like that. That's how I made music for the majority of my teen years and twenties." He talked of his Oxycontin use in the same interview. "It's synthetic heroin, that's the definition of it. I saw the grip that it had, just doing it for five or six days, sweating through my sheets and coming off of it shaking."

 

3. Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar grew up in Compton surrounded by drug users, including his own father. His dad warned him at a young age not to be like him, and not to wind up on the street corner. Lamar took his advice. He does not drink or smoke and takes his role as a leader seriously, even coming out against the hip hop trend of rapping about Molly. "Sometimes you have the trends that's not that cool," he told MTV. "You may have certain artists portraying these trends and don't really have that lifestyle, and then it gives off the wrong thing." 

 

2. Kid Cudi

J. Rivera/Wikimedia

While Kid Cudi was never thought of as someone who was really big into harder drugs, he was known as a guy who rapped about weed, and by that I mean he did it pretty much all the time. A few years back, he stopped getting high and hasn’t looked back. When he was criticized for it by some of his fan base, he came out and let his fans know that he didn’t care about the opinions of people who obviously did not care about him to begin with, and that they should be happy he made a positive change in his life—which is a good sentiment, no matter what you happen to be talking about.

 

1. Eminem

DoD News Features/Wikimedia

Eminem is a legend in the hip hop world. You simply cannot do an article of this nature without mentioning Eminem. Some believe him to be one of the best and certainly one of the most influential rappers ever—who also used to have a serious issue with drugs, mostly with prescription pills such as Xanax and Vicodin. After a near-fatal overdose, some stays in rehab, and a relapse or two, Eminem is now sober. He is strong in his sobriety and once helped Joe Budden get sober—making him one of the more influential rappers in an entirely different way.

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