Music

Macklemore And Tyler, The Creator Bring Sobriety To Rap

The two rappers couldn't be more different, except when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

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If you're a casual fan of Macklemore, chances are you've probably heard about his past with drugs and alcohol. It's part of his packaging as a fun, progressive, conscious rapper. He mentions his past as an addict extensively in his music and in interviews. It's a part of him in a very real way.

It's also a part of his fan base. Say what you will about the guy, but he knows how to write an anthem, and he's written a few about staying sober that have attracted a very unique — and vocal — straight-edge audience.

A quick Twitter search pulls up pretty much everything you need to know about how Macklemore fans feel about his message of sobriety:

I admire Macklemore for being a sober rapper in a chemically dependent industry. Must be hard since he's a former addict. One day at a time.

Paris Dallas

@WhatAPriss

I admire Macklemore for being a sober rapper in a chemically dependent industry. Must be hard since he's a former addict. One day at a time.

macklemore is a sober rapper that supports gay marriage i love him so much

☹jaz&stella☹

@chanelcraics

macklemore is a sober rapper that supports gay marriage i love him so much

To his credit, his sobriety seems more about him and his choice and less about what others should do.

Very surreal...3 years ago today I got sober. Thank you to everyone that stuck by me throughout these years. Your support got me here. Love

Macklemore

@macklemore

Very surreal...3 years ago today I got sober. Thank you to everyone that stuck by me throughout these years. Your support got me here. Love

The most heavily tweeted Macklemore lyric about staying sober comes from his song "Starting Over," off his most recent album, The Heist.

if i can be the exaple of been sober, i can be the example of starting over.- Macklemore

Thomas

@tomicarniel

if i can be the exaple of been sober, i can be the example of starting over.- Macklemore

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His particular brand of "you don't have to be drunk to party, but you can if you'd like to" sobriety has its detractors, however:

Noisey's Jeremy Gordon describes the bizarre irony of Macklemore's straight-edge message practiced live:

When Macklemore takes the stage, he clearly knows his purpose; the ad-libbed requests for the crowd to get really fucking crazy because they are so drunk are capable enough, and cleverly enough he's slurring his words in the cadence of someone sober who is pretending to be drunk around other drunk people—someone who knows how to play along, how to not feel uncomfortable nor make other people feel uncomfortable for having a legitimately chemical reason to not partake in the imbibing, which is both commercially savvy and philosophically disappointing.

And if you've been to a bar in the last six months, you've probably seen a sea of absolutely demolished people screaming "Thrift Shop" at the top of their lungs. Whether he plays down his temperance for commercial appeal or because he doesn't feel like being an alienating prick is still a mystery.

The fact the Tyler, the Creator is Straightedge too makes it all the sweeter ( ) #OF #TheEdgeThough

Aaron Frame

@aaron_frame21

The fact the Tyler, the Creator is Straightedge too makes it all the sweeter ( ) #OF #TheEdgeThough

i like how tyler constantly talks about how he's straightedge in wolf

#basedandi

@hallucin8tion

i like how tyler constantly talks about how he's straightedge in wolf

This guy keeps saying how much he hates Tyler the creator because he's straight edge .... Uh you can leave

Samantha Fath

@samanthafath

This guy keeps saying how much he hates Tyler the creator because he's straight edge .... Uh you can leave

Many casual fans don't even know that he's alcohol- and drug-free.

Just found out Tyler The Creator is Straight Edge......I suddenly like him even more

Chris Hansen

@Chrismis777

Just found out Tyler The Creator is Straight Edge......I suddenly like him even more

But on his newest release, Wolf, he does open up at least a little bit about it on the song "Domo 23," which sheds a little light on how Tyler views his sobriety.

And while yall rolling doobies, ill be in my bedroom scoring movies. #tylerthecreator #StraightEdge #OddFutureEdge

Aaron Frame

@aaron_frame21

And while yall rolling doobies, ill be in my bedroom scoring movies. #tylerthecreator #StraightEdge #OddFutureEdge

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From "Domo 23":

And while y'all are rolling doobies
I be in my bedroom scoring movies

It's important to note that Tyler is straight-edge, which is to say he just doesn't feel like drinking or doing drugs; Macklemore is sober because he had a serious drug problem. Tyler's temperance is social; Macklemore's is medical.

The way both rappers approach substance abuse is different for a few reasons. Mostly it's that Macklemore's got seven years' worth of substance abuse on Tyler, who sees drug use primarily as a distraction to his creativity and a waste of time, rather than a health issue.

And because of that distinction, Macklemore takes a more introspective, measured look at his sobriety with his lyrics. While Tyler can be a big troll when addressing other social issues, his sobriety is a personal choice that he addresses in his lyrics only occasionally.