For all the rap songs that depict the use of lean — the combination of promethazine cough syrup and soda — very few also share its negative side effects. Those side effects have cost the lives of influential figures in hip-hop like DJ Screw, Pimp C, and ASAP Yams. Regardless of substance, addiction may have also contributed to the loss of Mac Miller, who died Friday of a suspected overdose. However, in the wake of Mac’s recent death, more and more hip-hop stars have come out against the perceived glorification of drug use in rap, including Bow Wow, who unexpectedly revealed his own struggles with lean addiction on Twitter.
The star says that in 2007, around the time he was recording the Best Of Both Worlds-styled joint album Face Off with R&B star Omarion, Bow Wow was drinking cough syrup every day. He attributes some of his more erratic behavior at the time to this addiction, including a confrontation with another rapper during an appearance on BET. “I’m going to let something out,” he wrote. “When me and Omarion worked on [our] Face Off album, I was high off lean everyday! When ya’ll saw me on BET going off on Torae i was high off lean. My attitude, everything changed.”
He also pointed out that just because a rapper doesn’t talk about drug use in their music, doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering from an addiction. Likely owing to the residual squeaky-clean, professional image he’d had cultivated for him as a child star, Bow Wow didn’t rap about drugs, but eventually found himself in the hospital after a near overdose. “I never promoted lean in my songs,” he admitted. “The whole time i was on the UCP tour with Chris [Brown] I WAS SIPPING 4’s at least 7 times a day. I was addicted until our show in Cincinnati. I came off stage and passed out woke up in the hospital. I was having withdrawals. I never felt a pain like that ever. It was summer but I was walking round with 3 hoodies on because I was so cold. I missed the Chicago show of that tour [and] Baltimore show BECAUSE I WAS F*CKING HIGH AND SICK!!!! That sh*t is not cool and I was doing it to be cool!”
He went on to remind younger artists that no matter how it looks, their health is more important than image or stardom. “The young artist all the kids around the world… don’t follow a trend. Break the cycle.”
See the full tweet stream below.