From Weezy to Macklemore: How Hip-Hop transparency can lift up others

Reports of Lil Wayne's recent hospitalization from (likely drug-related) seizures are a reminder that addiction waits for no one. Rich or poor, celebrity or homeless, addiction can strike people from all walks of life. There has been really good writing (theatlantic, thefix) documenting Lil Wayne's issues related to codeine addiction including helpful information regarding the effects of sizzurp/purple drank/codeine, to the extent that I certainly don't need to do more of that. This issue with Wayne hits a little close to home for me. Being a long-time hip-hop lover and a fellow Louisianan, I grew up listening to his music with the Hot Boys and his rise to prominence as a solo artist. It saddened me a bit when Wayne started to put out music glorifying codeine use.

While some hip-hop and rap music glorifies drug use, some artists (with their own demons of course) have also put out music promoting recovery. (In fact, Eminem put out an album called Recovery). One of my favorite recent albums, The Heist by @Macklemore, includes a song called Starting Over. In that song Macklemore opens up about his struggles with recovery...including relapse.

And every kid that came up to me
And said I was the music they listened to whenthey first got clean
Now look at me, a couple days sober
I’m fighting demons
Back of that meeting on the east side
Shaking tweakin', hope that they don’t see it
Hope that no one is looking
That no one recognizes that failure under thathoodie
Was posted in the back with my hands crossedshooken
If they call on me I’m passing, if they talk tome I’m booking out that door
But before I can make it somebody stops me andsays are you Macklemore?
Maybe this isn’t the place or time
I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for otherside I wouldn’t have made it
I just look down at the ground and say thank you
She tells me she has 9 months and that she’s sograteful
Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry..fuck!
I barely got 48 hours, treated like I’m some wisemonk
I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t
I just shake her hand and tell her congrats
Get back to my car and I think I’m tripping yea
Cause God wrote Otherside, that pen was in myhand
I’m just a flawed man, man I fucked up up
Like so many others I just never thought I would
I never thought I would, didn’t pick up the book
Doin’ it by myself, didn’tturn out that good

If I can be an example ofgettin' sober / Then I can be an example of startin' over 
If I can be anexample of gettin' sober / Then I can be an example of startin' over

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Starting Over Lyrics

While we should always be highly cautious of exaulting (or criticizing) celebrities, when they open up and share their struggles it can be an inspiration. I wish the best to Wayne and Macklemore in their recovery. Above all, I hope Wayne gets the support and help he needs so he doesn't end up like so many other musicians who died before their time.