"I Needed It For My Edge": Royce da 5'9" Comes Clean About Alcoholism & Music

Royce shatters the myth of the genius-artist-addict by talking about how his sobriety lead to great music and a number one album.

From Jimi Hendrix to Amy Winehouse to Eminem, the image of the strung-out genius artist is one of music's most powerful myths. Alcohol and drugs aren't just viewed as creativity enhancers, they're viewed as the source of creativity itself. Often even by the artists themselves. 

So especially in the age of Overdose R&B, it's been powerful to watch Royce da 5'9" not only openly talk about recovering from a very serious alcoholism problem that landed him in jail and hurt his personal and professional life, but hit a creative and commercial peak while newly sober (his new Layers album is now the #1 Hip-Hop album in the country). 

In the last part of our exclusive sit down with Royce, we talked to the Slaughterhouse alum and Eminem collaborator about his struggle to relearn how to make music without alcohol. 

I thought drinking was what I needed for my edge. Actually, yeah, I needed it for my edge because I did it so much I became physically and mentally dependent on it. What happened was I had to break myself, take as much time as I needed, to break myself from feeling that way and thinking that way. And it took me a little over two years to be able to make music without feeling super awkward. And not just make music - everything. 

Hearing Royce talk about replacing his alcohol addiction with drinking seven to eight cans of Monster Energy a day is a fascinating window into the mind of an addict - the idea of moderation simply doesn't exist - but thankfully he's now out of that dark tunnel and making the best music of his career. Hopefully his new success will inspire not just other musicians who need help getting sober, but everyone struggling with addiction.

Sometimes it's bigger than hip-hop. This is one of those times. 

By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter. Illustration by Sander.