Macklemore has been vocal in the past about his struggles with substance abuse, notably tackling the subject in his song “Starting Over.” Now, in a candid new interview, the Grammy-winning rapper reveals that the pressures of his stardom drove him to seek solace in drugs.
“Adjusting to the fame in a condensed period and not staying sober has been the worst,” he admits in a new cover story for Fault magazine. Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, first achieved global recognition for The Heist, the album self-produced, self-recorded and self-released alongside his musical partner, Ryan Lewis. The platinum-selling disc contained the chart-toppers “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us” and “Same Love.”
“There was a rapid transition and to have the world’s eye on me all at once with back-to-back number ones, and all the accolades that came with it – I didn’t know how to deal with it,” Macklemore, 34, continues. “I didn’t know how to adjust, so I escaped.”
The stream of sold-out arenas and media attention was relentless and soon took its toll. “I used drugs to cope with it and to get out of my head,” he admits. “Dealing with the love, criticism and outside public perceptions is a balancing act.”
Since getting sober in again in 2012, he’s found a new way of coping with the public scrutiny. “It’s by not giving a f—. People always say, ‘I don’t care what people think of me,’ but we all care!” Through self-acceptance, Macklemore — now married and the father of two daughters — says he’s achieved what he characterizes as inner peace.
“It takes work and maintenance, and if you’re paying attention to the media and you’re on social media all the time to look for validation, it’ll never come,” he explains. “There will always be somebody that’s disagreeing with what you’re saying; you have to be at peace with yourself.”
- Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
Through it all, Macklemore — who’s now touring his solo album, Gemini — remains constantly aware of his struggles with substance abuse, and calls “addiction” his biggest fault.
“I think that’s the thing that always reminds me that I could lose all of this at any minute,” he says. “If I stop prioritizing the daily recovery program that I do to maintain sobriety – I will lose it all. It’s bigger than my career and more significant than record sales – it’s my family. It’s my happiness, my life.”