Hip Hop Artists In Recovery Share Their Stories

An ‘Outsider’ no more: House of Pain’s Danny Boy O’Connor finds his calling

May 3, 2021
Danny Boy O'Connor

In 2018, Danny Boy O’Connor appeared in the teaser trailer for PBS’ “Great American Read.” Danny Boy O’Connor was 13 years old the first time he saw “The Outsiders,” and the film has stayed with him ever since. Growing up, O’Connor told The Ties That Bind Us recently, life was a series of one hard knock after another – some metaphorical, some physical, but always difficult for a kid from a broken home whose father went to prison when he was 2 months old. In “The Outsiders,” based on the classic coming-of-age novel by S.E. Hinton, O’Connor saw himself, and in the camaraderie of the Greasers, the gang of underdog friends and brothers who cling to one another as small-town society puts its boot upon their necks, he saw what was missing from his life. “The world changed after seeing that movie for me, because that was the first time…

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Philo Reitzel: Asheville hip-hop raconteur living his best life thanks to recovery

June 1, 2020
Philo Reitzel

Like a lot of artists who come up hard — either through circumstances beyond their control or ones of their own design — Philo Reitzel embraced the game. Coming up in Asheville, North Carolina’s hip-hop scene, he threw himself readily into the drug and alcohol subculture that’s often glamorized in the genre. By his late teens, his drinking was a badge of honor, he told The Ties That Bind Us recently, and music often served as the catalyst for the party that surrounded it. Eventually, however, it stopped being fun. Get wasted, rinse, repeat … while the life he wanted slowly slipped between his fingers like handfuls of smoke. “For me, I struggled for so long, without knowing particularly that addiction was what I was struggling with primarily,” said Reitzel, who released his new album, “Live the Life,” last week. “I’ve been saying I was an alcoholic since I was…

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Thanks to recovery, REM ONE grinds on that hip-hop hustle

May 4, 2020

Want proof that recovery provides for miracles? Look no further than Frank Morgan, the hip-hop artist known as REM ONE. By all accounts, Morgan should be somewhere in a Baltimore graveyard, dead from an overdose or the violence that often accompanies addiction. Or, worse, he could still be shuffling in and out of jails and institutions, reduced a little more with every trip through those revolving doors, until his spirit was a dying coal in a fire that had long since burned out. Instead, he now owns his own business. He’s married to his long-time soulmate, Danyell. He’s part of a collective of recovering rappers who will be heading out on tour after the current coronavirus pandemic passes on their own tour bus. He’s working on new music, standing up beside his recovering brothers and working on giving back to the society from which he took for so long. Recovery,…

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Recovering hip-hop artist B-RAiN: ‘If I put my mind to it, I can do anything’

April 7, 2020

Brian “B-RAiN” McCall was staring into an abyss of 165 years in prison when he got word of his father’s death. Both were struggling to get clean, but despite being locked up for 11 robberies with bail set at more than a half million dollars, McCall was still getting high. In fact, he told The Ties That Bind Us recently, he didn’t see jail as a deterrent to his addiction at all. “My dad and I would write letters, and the whole plan when I got out was that we were going to get high together,” McCall said. “Looking back, I see that was just me taking advantage of him. I looked at it like, ‘Here’s another addict I can manipulate, that I can lie to, that I can take from.’ But then he died of an overdose, and that (messed) me up, and from then on, I was using…

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