COMPLEX — It’s not a metaphorical statement. This is the neighborhood he grew up in; one of his old high schools, Garfield, is right down the road. And after the success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist—the debut at No. 2 on Billboard’s album chart, the two number-one hits in “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” the four Grammy wins, and the true people’s choice award as the most streamed artist on Spotify in 2013—Ben relapsed into taking pills and smoking marijuana. “I held it together for a while,” he says. “But, eventually, I stopped going to my 12-step meetings.” “I was burnt out,” he continues. “I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping—doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame—everything. All the clichés, man—like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings—all of that put into one pie was just…I just wanted to escape.”
He gave over to his addiction. At first, he hid his backsliding—“everyone knew, but they didn’t necessarily know,” he says. Tricia found some sleeping pills that he had hidden in his shoe at SXSW, so he sobered up for a bit. But when he got off the road and came back home, he found himself running through the motions: trying to fill himself by purchasing sneakers and jewelry and the other trappings of newfound fame and wealth. Eventually, “I sat in a car, a hot boxed car—I thought that was a good idea—and got high,” he says, “And then the next day it was like, What’s up with the weed? And once I’m there, it’s over.” There was no music being made during Ben’s relapse, which struck Ryan as odd. “Since I was a teenager and came across his name for the first time, there’s always been this sense of just trying to make honest music—trying to get the centerpiece of what he knows, what he thinks, how he feels,” says Ryan. “Ben, genuinely, in his best form, uses music as his means to process his day-to-day life.” The lack of productivity made Ryan question: “Do you want to make this album? Because it doesn’t feel like you want to be here.”
Like any accomplished addict, Ben bargained with himself throughout summer 2014, struggling to quit: “You know, like, Monday, I’ma stop…. OK. Tuesday, I’ma stop…. OK, fuck it, I might as well go on to the weekend. Sunday, I’m done. But after this bag of weed…” He became “sneaky” and “deceitful,” to those closest to him. “I’m in meetings with management with sunglasses on and I’m rolling around like a 15-year-old trying not to get caught smoking weed in my car. Straight up, driving all around here, like I was 15 years ago. Same shit. I felt so dumb. I felt like I’m just wasting time. What am I escaping here?”
Wanted to make sure I give Macklemore the props he deserves. Weed addiction is a serious issue in this country that I don’t think enough people pay attention to. It ruins lives, tears families and friendships apart, and prevents individuals from being their best selves. The government continues to legalize it each day, without acknowledging the dangers it presents. We needed someone with a platform to step up and say something, and in Macklemore we finally have that. Thankfully he did not fall prey to the drug that has ruined the lives of so many of hip hop’s greatest icons. He overcame his addiction, and will continue to make great music with the equally talented Ryan Lewis. I think we as fans of music should be thankful tonight, because we almost lost one of the greatest rappers of all ti– BAAAHHHHHHAHAHAHAHA oh fuck it I can’t do this anymore.
Live look at Hip Hop…
(Quick shoutout to Big for never laughing in any pictures ever. This was legit the best one I could find)
Yo that is one of the most outrageous things I have EVER heard. Macklemore (and Ryan Lewis) did you just try to tell us that you’re addicted to weed? Did I hear you right? Was that a serious answer when you told us how sad you felt after hotboxing your car, or is this all just a prank? Is this actually a real interview?
Because if it is…
GET OUT. Just get out. Get out right now. Leave hip hop. Leave music. Leave entertainment. Leave America. Leave everything. Just get out. Because if you’re going to sit here and tell us all with a straight face that you couldn’t make music because of your weed addiction, I never want to hear you say another word ever again. I don’t think you ever really had credibility in the hip hop game. But whatever shred you did have is officially gone. Go back to Seattle, Macklemore, you’re way too high to give this interview.