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Macklemore Opens Up About His Struggle to Stay Sober

'I just want to get the fuck out of my own head,' says the 'Thrift Shop' rapper

Macklemore in Austin, Texas.
Danny Clinch
March 28, 2013 9:00 AM ET

Seattle rapper Macklemore says it's been a challenge to stay sober since the Number One smash "Thrift Shop" turned him and producer Ryan Lewis into overnight pop stars. "The last three months haven't been good for me – the pressure, the expectation, the lack of sleep, the stress, the traveling," the 29-year-old rapper tells Rolling Stone. "I can't escape Macklemore. I just want to get the fuck out of my own head."

Macklemore has been sober since August 2008, when he went to rehab for a drug and alcohol problem. In the middle of a busy week of SXSW shows and events, he took Rolling Stone to a late-night Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Austin – his first meeting in close to two months. "It's been a struggle the past year," he admits. "It's very important to go into the rooms of AA, smell the shitty coffee and be reminded that without sobriety, I would have no career."

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Support Gay Rights Campaign

Macklemore also opens up about his unusual DIY path to the top of the charts. He and Lewis release all their music themselves via a self-run label, and their music videos, T-shirts and posters are produced in-house. "I spent a lot of my life rapping and not making enough money to live, and gratefully, that's not the case anymore," he says. "But not having a foreseeable end date in sight is a little bit scary."

For much more on Macklemore, pick up the latest issue of Rolling Stone on newsstands and iTunes tomorrow, or read our full Macklemore profile now.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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