Drugs in the Music World
In the music industry it is no secret that partying, drugs, and alcohol are everywhere. At some point in a musician’s career it is possible they could be introduced to them. Artist such as Michael Jackson (1958-2009), Whitney Houston (1963-2012), Prince (1958- 2016), and most recently Mac Miller (1992-2018) have all passed away due to a drug overdose.
First and foremost, drug addiction can affect the lives of the individual who is addicted. On one extreme, the artist could pass away from a drug overdose. On the other end of the spectrum, drug and alcohol addiction could affect their livelihood. Demi Lovato suffered from a drug overdose in July of this year during her journey of rehab and recovery. However, artists like Demi Lovato have been very open about their drug addiction with the public. For example, Demi Lovato shared on Instagram that she has “always been transparent about [her] journey with addiction” adding that she “needs time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery.” In regards to her lyrics, Demi Lovato writes about her struggle with addiction as well, in songs like “Skyscraper” from 2011, “Old Ways” from 2015, and most recently, “Sober” from 2018. Showing her struggle with addiction in Instagram captions and through song lyrics she not only lets in her audience but also lets her fans know how this struggle has been affecting her life.
Many musicians will often use their life experience to help write their songs whether it be about love, success, or even their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Artists like Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Eminem, and Amy Winehouse (who passed away in 2011) are no different. Even though they are all very different musicians, they all have at least one song that mentions the struggle they have faced throughout their addiction. For example, in Demi Lovato’s recent single titled “Sober,” she sings about relapsing and how she is sorry to her family, friends, and fans. This is very apparent in the chorus of the song with the lyrics “Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore / And daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor / To the ones who never left me, we’ve been down this road before / I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.” Eminem also has a song that addresses his relationship with drug abuse. In this song Eminem sampled his chorus from a song titled “Changes” by Black Sabbath whose front man, Ozzy Osbourne, also suffered from drug addiction in the past. In Eminem’s song “Going Through Changes” he raps the lyrics, “And it hurts so I fast forward, sleeping pills ‘ll make me feel alright / And if I’m still awake in the middle of the night I’ll just take a couple more.” In this song Eminem talks about losing one of his best friends to gun violence and in this lyric he explains how the drugs help him cope with that pain. He also mentions how he wants to recover for his daughters Hailie, Alaina, and Whitney.
“The culture of drug abuse isn’t simply an issue with musicians, it spans all levels of the industry,”
When someone finds a musician’s music they will decide almost instantly if their music connects with them and if the listener wants to continue listening. Whether it be an incredibly dedicated fan going to every tour and buying as much merchandise as they possibly can, or a fan that just listens to a musician’s music because it makes them feel good, it is undeniable that fans are connected to the artist in some way. This is why if their favorite musician is addicted to drugs it can also affect them in some way. In Macklemore’s song “Starting Over” he describes an encounter with a fan, saying, “Somebody stops me and says ‘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 looked down at the ground and say, ‘Thank you’ / She tells me she has nine months, and that she’s so grateful / Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry, fuck / I barely got forty-eight hours, treated like some wise monk / I want to 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.” With these lyrics it is obvious for both the fan and Macklemore that this encounter was very important. From the fans point of view, it shows how people can be affected by the music that the artist releases in a positive aspect and from Macklemore’s point of view it shows how he feels he has to put up a front in front of his fans.
Emerson junior and Business of Creative Enterprises major Riley Medeiros is an aspiring music manager. She explains how drugs can make a musician “difficult to work with, reliant on a high, [and] unable to be as creative or productive when they’re sober.” Yet she also mentions that some managers will use a musician’s drug addiction to their advantage by “treating their artists like animals, providing them with drugs like they’re treats.” She goes on to say that “the culture of drug abuse isn’t simply an issue with musicians, it spans all levels of the industry,” further proving that drug addiction is all throughout the music world.
Art by Francisco Guglielmino