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Odd Future co-founder Hodgy has been relatively quiet for the past six years. After rising to notoriety alongside Tyler, The Creator, Syd, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean and Casey Veggies, among others, he retreated from the spotlight. Behind the scenes, he was struggling with substance abuse issues, so he checked himself into rehab, moved to Toronto and essentially reinvented himself.

Now a father of three, the 31-year-old is focused on raising his family while making sure he takes care of himself in the process. On Thursday (March 24), the elusive rapper returned with a new single and video called “Into Someone,” one of a handful of tracks from his forthcoming EP Entitled. The emotive track marks a fleeting change in direction for Hodgy as he sings freely over the sparse acoustic guitar. But considering the mental space he’s in, it’s not surprising he’s venturing into uncharted territory.

During a recent interview with HipHopDX, he opened up about how the geographical change helped free him from the shackles of Los Angeles and provide him with an opportunity to truly grow as a person.

“This place is very liberating for me,” he says of Toronto. “For me, it signified a fresh start, a new life. When I was here, I could be a authentic version of myself that I’d never met before. I find it really, really great.”

Hodgy’s optimism is infectious, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before he went to rehab, he was numbing the pain with drugs and alcohol, which essentially turned him into someone he didn’t recognize.

“It’s crazy, because my whole life, at least growing up as a child,” he explains. “All I was accustomed to was trauma and pain and suffering. As a child from ages 1 to fucking 12 years old, that’s all I knew. My mom wasn’t a drug addict, my dad was. I had a lot of trauma with basically, I would say shit just like physical abuse, sexual abuse, I’ve had trauma with, which also led to me smoking pot at the age of 12. From an older cousin that introduced it to me, so then that led to drug abuse.”

He can still pinpoint the moment he knew he needed help, saying, “Shit, man. I couldn’t put the bag down. I have two younger children. I found myself up at night, being high and just staying up all night, painting or writing poems. And then I realized, I couldn’t put the shit down. I looked in the mirror and then my heart did something weird. Something was like, ‘Yo, you’re going to die.’ In that moment, I was malnourished for sure. I probably weighed like fucking 119, 117 pounds.

“The craziest thing about it was, I didn’t tell anyone around me. The people that were around me at the time, the only person that knew for a fact was my brother. My mom didn’t know. I used to be around her high. My partner at the time, she didn’t know at all. It was just like I’ll be up all night, then the kids would wake up and I’d make breakfast and shit, then just knock out.”

Knowing he could no longer keep up with the facade, it wasn’t long before Hodgy ended up in a Malibu rehab and forced to confront his issues — clean.

“The way you offset with the uppers, is you do a downer,” he continues. “I was also addicted to hydrocodone. Got to be like that throughout the day, but like waking up, it’s just a lot of pain. It’s cool because when I was admitted into rehab and stuff, I just told everybody like, ‘I need to go to rehab.’ The next week I ended up at a spot in Malibu. That was probably the first time I’ve had a break from just everyday tasks; just life shit, doing for other people, stuff like that. I was like a double diagnosis. I was like, ‘I’m crazy and I’m on drugs. Great.'”

Hodgy will celebrate two years sober in June, the longest he’s gone without using since he was 12 years old. With a clear head, Hodgy realizes he never really explained his disappearance after dropping his first solo studio album, Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide, in 2016.

“The last project I dropped, I was in the middle of saying ‘fuck everybody’ because I was going through a lot of shit,” he says. “I said, ‘Fuck everybody.’ I left a lot without pure explanation. I had to go find that explanation myself in order to be what I am today. Music is very touching for me, because I’ve been making music since I was six. That shit is my third lung.”

Hodgy’s evolution has resulted in some profound observations about how he used to live. He admits, “I used to care so much about what people thought, how I looked, what I’m driving or how I came off to people to where it actually worked the opposite way and just turned people off. At this point, I’m so comfortable with just me, my being, my feelings and just seeing people for who they are instead of what they’re performing and what they’re doing.”

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No longer doing music to feed his ego, Hodgy is free to experiment with his sound more than ever, and Entitled is a perfect example. “Now I’m clear,” he says. “Being where I’m at today is I’m just blessed to be alive. I see so many fallen soldiers to drugs. I got to be here for multiple reasons. It can’t just be one.”

Entitled is expected to arrive on May 20. In the meantime, watch “Everyday” and “Into Someone” above and check back with HipHopDX soon for Part II of the Hodgy interview.