Macklemore has opened up about the impact his career has had on his addiction journey, revealing for the first time that he relapsed after his 2014 Grammy wins.
The rapper appears on a new episode of the podcast On Purpose With Jay Shetty for a candid conversation about overcoming addiction. During the chat, Macklemore revealed that he began what he calls a “very painful drinking career” at the age of 14.
“I had a liquor cabinet in my house above my fridge,” Macklemore says. “I went into that liquor cabinet and I took one shot of vodka. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love how I feel right now. Like, I’m finally turning [my brain] off.’ Then I took two more. I probably weighed maybe about 130 pounds and I took 12 shots of vodka in maybe a 30-minute time period.”
By the time he became a bona fide Hip Hop star, thanks to the success of his multiplatinum single “Thrift Store,” the Seattle, Washington native had already escalated to other drugs and even entered recovery. But all of that changed once he got into the spotlight.
“I think that at the height of our success – and I look back to, comin’ off of ‘Thrift Shop’ was number one; ‘Can’t Hold Us’ was number one,” Macklemore tells host Jay Shetty. “All of a sudden this music that you feel like is yours becomes the world’s And it becomes open to public interpretation. I think I lost it there. There was a point where it wasn’t just a relapse, I went back into active addiction at that point. I didn’t know how to maneuver the success. I had been an underground rapper forever.”
Macklemore goes on to offer some insight on the rollercoaster that has been his fight to remain sober in the years since, sharing for the first time ever that he was actively detoxing at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, where he infamously beat out Kendrick Lamar to take home to award for Best Rap Album.
“I was actually detoxing from drugs during the Grammys,” he recalls. “I was maybe three or four days off of opiates and it definitely was not out of my system whatsoever. So that place of fear was still there. And I remember winning the four Grammys, and at the afterparty, got a pill from somebody. And that was the beginning of another attempt to escape everything that was happening.”
While he’s been sober for over two years at this point, after relapsing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Macklemore says he recognizes that addiction is something he will “never graduate from.”
“There’s so much work to be done. I’ve been in and out of the rooms of recovery for 14 years now, and I relapsed at the beginning of Covid,” he says. “So I have a couple years, but I still feel like a newcomer. I still feel like this is brand new and I’m just on the precipice of figuring out something that’s gonna open a new door.”
“I had been lucky enough that I had already been to rehab,” Macklemore adds. “I had already understood that this is the disease of addiction. This is an incurable disease. This is something that I don’t graduate from. This is something that I don’t go into remission — like this will be with me forever. And as a daily reprieve and a daily practice, what am I doing for my recovery?”
As he pushes forward on his journey, Macklemore says that he’s been able to find strength through community, specifically bonding with other men in recovery, and particularly those who have led him towards open dialogue about sexual trauma and other underlying factors that may have driven them to addiction.