There was a recent documentary on PBS about the history of hip-hop music in America. This gentleman, known as Flavor Flav, was among the early pioneers (he was the one wearing the big clock around his neck). Along with his friend Chuck D, he founded a group known as Public Enemy. They were among the very first to bring social and political ideas to rap music.

He’s now clean and sober. A recent article:

Flavor Flav…Was Spending Up to $2,600 a Day on Drugs for 6 Years Before Getting Sober

I have to admit that dollar amount sounded pretty outlandish when I first saw it. Then I realized he’d been selling drugs as well as using them. As have many others, he fell into the trap of dipping into his own wares. “Became my own best customer”, he admitted. That meant he had to spend far more on product, to support his own habit as well as other peoples’. Can be risky, as the temptation is there to shortchange the customer, and some of his were probably armed.

He describes his peak drug use as lasting six years before it ended, two years ago. I imagine drug use began long before that, but gradually escalated over time. That’s the way it usually works.

As far as the dollars involved, my experience is that most users don’t keep careful count of expenditures. They’re not CPAs, for the most part. Most of the patients I worked with in the big detox facilities were just picking a figure out of the air. For the first few years I was in the field, it was invariably $100 a day. Were they really using that much, in the 1970’s? It’s possible. Some days, maybe.

The exceptions were the rock bands that occasionally came through detox, usually before setting out on an extended tour in Europe or Asia. As one described it: “You’re on the road in places where you don’t know anybody, don’t have a source. You wind up dealing with strangers who gouge you.” I recall him saying the band’s road manager budgeted about $100,000 for drugs to fuel a six week European tour– this was back in the Seventies, remember.

“So if you’re just going to go back to using anyway,” I had to ask, “why bother detoxing in the first place?”

“To get their habits down, man,” he told me, so a smaller dose might do. “Some of these guys, they’re using so much dope now, they’d break the budget in no time.”

Anyway, nowadays Flavor Flav is repping the sober life. Calling on today’s rap artists to “do better when it comes to depicting drug use in their lyrics.”

“Back in the days,” he claims, “when we used to make drug records, we used to talk about selling drugs. Talking about who can make the most money off drugs, who’s balling off selling drugs… Now today’s music, we’re talking about doing drugs… It’s giving younger kids the wrong idea,”  complained Flav.

I’m not sure either lifestyle qualifies as the ‘right way,’ but I guess it’s all in your viewpoint.

Anyway, he’s committed to carrying a positive message to today’s youth.

I can think of worse ways to use your time.