In early January, Mozzy uploaded an Instagram video showing the Sacramento rapper pouring out a bottle of liquid codeine onto the pavement at a gas station. "Any young nigga doing that shit, this should influence you to stop it," he said, after revealing that he hadn't consumed any syrup for ten or twelve days. "They say health is wealth, I need my bag." The video attracted attention online in subsequent weeks, and on Wednesday Complex posted an interview with Mozzy about his experiences with lean, addiction, and why he stopped using it.
Mozzy describes his appreciation for the drug's "soothing" and "therapeutic" effects, as well as its "discreet high" and "platinum" taste. However, it was also hindering his creative output. "I wasn’t as effective," Mozzy admits. "I wasn’t as productive." A sober stint in jail revealed to Mozzy how much of a difference lean made. "In jail, I'm writing probably like 15-20 verses a day. Literally—all day, every day... I had plans, I had goals. Versus beforehand, I was just on a drug and just like...sleepwalking."
As his usage increased, Mozzy's health began to suffer. "I couldn’t shit properly. I’m shitting out water. I couldn’t eat properly. Started losing weight." Mozzy was eventually motivated to kick his addiction – which by his calculation was costing $100,000 a year, conservatively – by his children. "I got two daughters. I wanna be present in both of their futures—healthy!"
Though he doesn't pass judgement of those unable to quite lean, Mozzy believes that hip-hop artists should take responsibility for how it portrays the drug. "We, us, as a people — we speak on it highly. How we pour up, and how we can’t sleep without it, can’t eat without it, and we fell in love with it. I just think as a people we promote it to be something that’s beautiful. And it’s not that."
When Mozzy posted the Instagram video announcing he'd stopped sipping lean, he received a message of support in the comments from Fredo Santana. "I'm almost 60 days clean bro fuck dat lean shit," the Chicago rapper posted according to screengrabs by Kollege Kidd. Fredo Santana passed away last week at age 27 from a fatal seizure.
Thumbnail photo by Dan Monick for The FADER