Drugs and alcohol almost ended Macklemore's career

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:34 p.m. ET

Macklemore is at the top of the music industry right now, but it almost didn't happen. Addiction almost ruined it all, but the singer overcame it and is now a Best New Artist.


Macklemore swept the Grammy Award's rap categories Sunday night, and was also named (along with Ryan Lewis) as last year's Best New Artist. But the Seattle rapper was far from the spotlight only five years ago, and nearly didn't become the musician he is.

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Macklemore faced a battle with drugs, and knows how lucky he is to have won that battle.

"[When] I actually drank for the first time, I was by myself," Macklemore explained to mtvU. "This is an indicator of who I was from the jump. After school, by myself [at] 13 years old, maybe 14."

The 30-year-old said the first time he drank, he already realized who he was as an addict, and he will never forget that day.

"Twelve shots in, [my] first time ever drinking alcohol," he said. "That's not people like, 'yo keep going.' That's me, by myself... in the kitchen, like I can't stop. I can't turn this off. This feels good, I wanna keep going."

Macklemore's music is what pulled him out of the struggle, because he soon realized he had to choose between the drugs and alcohol or his music, something he knew he had a talent for.

"I've been rapping since [I was] 13 or 14, and freshman year of high school I realized that music and me did not work if I was under the influence," he said, adding that "the thing that pulled me back was knowing that I wanted to be a musician, and that if I wanted to do this, I had to get sober. So I'd go a month and be sober, make a bunch of music and then fall back off and vanish for a couple months and go back and forth like that. That's how I made music for the majority of my teen years and twenties."

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It was finally a trip to rehab, and his father, who saved his life and put him on the path to the Grammys. He explained that "if it wasn't for that rehab center, I probably wouldn't have been here. In terms of recovery, it has been very important for me to be a part of a recovery community, to actively be around my people because they understand me. They get it."

Macklemore went through his issues with drugs and alcohol before his career even began, but it's possible he may have some words of advice for Justin Bieber and the trouble he is going through.

Photo credit: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com