In 2009, Gucci Mane rapped the sticky-frat, party-floor anthem, “Sipping on purple stuff, rolling up stanky/Wake in the morning, 10 o’clock drinking.” Last week, at the Chateau Marmont, Paper magazine found him “trim and sober, seated next to a bed in head-to-toe Puma workout clothes.” In the years between 2009 and Gucci-in-matching-workout-clothes, taking care of yourself has become perhaps one of the trendiest (and tbh, most important) things a person can do.
Fewer and farther between are the days of rock stars and motel rooms, nights filled with debauchery, and liquor as meals. Today, self-care and wellness reign supreme—it’s now cool to set reminders to drink water. “I drink a lot of Hint Water [flavored water],” R&B icon and social media savant John Legend recently said. “As a singer, our voice is our instrument… It is so important for me to be healthy and hydrated.”
It’s not just Legend. Rappers, like Guwop, are also coming correct. Living a healthier, cleaner lifestyle is a progressive move in an industry that’s historically not known for lending itself to wellness. These 10 rappers bucked the trend and turned their life around for the better. It’s high time we salute them.
YG’s not messing around when it comes to his health. He adopted a vegan diet in 2016, telling the Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne that he did it to protect himself from cancer. “Just seeing people getting cancer and dying from it…it was my peoples who passed from cancer,” he said. “I’m asking around like, ‘Where this cancer s— coming from?’ Everything we eat—the processed food and the stuff they put inside it.”
For someone who has made his name rapping about the consumption of formidable amounts of illegal substances, the recent debut of a sober, healthier Guwop was no small feat. When he went to prison in 2013, he was forced to detox from lean, lost 25 pounds in two weeks, and read books fervently—by Malcolm Gladwell, Deepak Chopra, and the Bible, among others. After his release in 2016, Gucci embraced sobriety; a lifestyle that definitely suits him. Mr. Davis just dropped, his autobiography is out, and in October, he’s marrying longtime partner Keyshia Ka’Oir.
Logic, all things considered, is an unlikely chart-topper. Hailing from Gaithersburg, Maryland, the 27-year-old’s flow and penchant for agile rhyme schemes should align him more with alternative rappers than hip-hop superstars. His album, Everybody, features earnest, open soliloquies on political, social, and mental health issues. It makes sense he lives his life cleanly, even revealing in an interview with VladTV that he’s never been drunk. He doesn’t smoke weed and stopped smoking cigarettes the day he dropped his 2014 album Under Pressure.
Teflon Don is no longer the big teddy bear we used to know and love. The rapper has lost an impressive 75 pounds thanks to working out, healthier eating habits, and his favorite tasty fruit: pears! Ross still enjoys the occasional trip to Wingstop and Checkers, but says he’s cut out late-night binges in the studio. “My advice for anyone looking to lose weight is to not make it feel like a job,” he told Men’s Health.
Could Wu-Tang Clan be responsible for the wave of rappers who have renounced animal products and processed foods? GZA, patron saint of vegetarian rappers, became the clan’s raw food guru, and by 2014, RZA was starring in PETA videos saying, “I don’t need a dead animal or dead piece of flesh to go into my live body. I had animals as friends… I’m quite sure they did not want to be on my plate.” RZA announced last November that his menswear brand, 36 Chambers, would be selling vegan leather wallets, and has plans to make his brand fully vegan.
Macklemore has been open about his struggles with sobriety, first entering rehab in August 2008 for a drug and alcohol problem, and admitting that he relapsed in 2013after the overwhelming success of The Heist, his LP with Ryan Lewis. It was his fiancé Tricia Davis learning she was pregnant that led him to once again get sober. Macklemore is unafraid to tackle addiction in his music, on songs like “Drug Dealer” and “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.” He even teamed up with Obama last year for MTV’s documentary Prescription for Change about America’s opioid crisis.
Common, everyone’s favorite rap activist, was experimenting with vegetarianism since before it was trendy, starting in the early ’90s. He gave up pork in 1992, beef in ’95 and chicken in ’99, according to Men’s Fitness. Now a pescatarian who eats a mostly plant-based diet, Common honestly makes us feel a little bit bad about ourselves. He starts everyday with a green juice, puts nutritional yeast on his popcorn, and has never had the burger at Minetta Tavern. You win, Common, you win.
Flocka recently sat down with Russell Simmons and Mya to discuss veganism and the impact it’s had on his life for a collaboration with PETA. Before giving up meat and dairy, “I was fat, I had stretch marks… I just got tired of it,” he said. After the change, his energy levels increased dramatically. “I got on stage, I felt better. My attitude was better. Everything about me was better.”
Ace Hood has had his ups and downs the last few years, parting ways with DJ Khaled and learning how to strike out on his own as an artist and businessman in the years since 2013’s Trials and Tribulations. A large part of his focus and positive energy can be credited to yoga and MMA training, which he often shares on social media. “There’s a reason why I have been able to reach this certain point of somewhat peace in my life,” he told Complex. “It’s because I’ve done all of those things like yoga and MMA…to help me push through. All of this was part of my process, and I needed it to remain sane.”
If his 2016 album The Divine Feminine is any indication, Mac Miller has traded codeine (and other substances) for love. Miller credits Rick Rubin for helping him get sober in 2015, and currently seems like a man in a good place. He’s hit #relationshipgoals status with Ariana Grande, and recently teamed up with Kendrick and Kevin Gates for a frosty new banger, “Cold Summer.” On the topic of sobriety, Miller said in an interview last spring with W, “I’ve spent a good time very sober and now I’m just, like, living regularly. I think it’s important.”
Illustrations by Spiff Ellis