Drugs, the death knell for artists

By Rosalia David

THE spotlight of the music industry comes with lucrative gigs, crazy fans, fame and for some local artists it has also dragged in substance abuse.

There are also whispers that artist fall into the drug trap because there is a belief that some substances heighten creativity and that being under any influence translates to creating masterpieces.

However, this has not been the case for many artists who have fallen from grace or those who have become one hit wonders and struggle to climb back on top because of the habit.

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This week Confidente spoke to industry gurus to get their view on drug use in the creative industry and how it has affected the show business in general.

Record label owner and entrepreneur Dragan Djokic popularly known as Antonio described drug use as the main downfall of many musicians locally and internationally.

He said, substance abuse is not only a local concern but many musicians across the world are battling with drugs or alcohol abuse.

“If you look at artists all over the world, they are also going through the same situation. Many have died due to overdose while some have quit music … perhaps it comes with the fame. In Namibia, the only thing we can do is urge those who are upcoming not to use drugs such as cocaine,” he said.

Djokic went on to say that he has worked with musicians for a long time and has witnessed the downfall caused by drugs.

“For bigger industries in other countries, it is easy for those musicians to get help such as rehabilitation but here, we don’t even have an association to begin with.”

Producer ‘Mr Andrew on the beat’ also pointed out how drug abuse limits musicians’ creativity saying that those that are addicted tend to end up making music that does not make sense.

Meanwhile, DJ KBoz who has been producing music for more than a decade said, “When we start in the music industry we feel the need to indulge in drugs because it’s what all the artists do and because it’s cool. But in the long run it affects your health, your work pace and your ability to interact with people.

“A lot of artists withdraw from the real world because of drugs and end up in depression and anxiety because of drug intake. Also in the long run you start making music that doesn’t make sense or resonate with the public.”

Long serving live performing artist Ras Sheehama also mentioned that he had done drugs before but it takes a strong person to kick the habit to the curb.

“You have to have a strong brain. There are people who use drugs … there are a lot of them. Some only take once in a while and don’t get affected that much because they go to work and don’t have much time to get addicted.

“Drugs are not for people who don’t get N$10 000 per month or for poor people because they will destroy you physically and mentally and this is where the problem is,” he said.

He further pointed out the negative impact of drug use especially where there is no support system.

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“If there is no one to tell you that the drugs are changing the way you look or do things and you only have people who hype you up when you use drugs, you are gone,” he stressed.

Sheehama further urged upcoming musicians to listen to their inner voice when they are about to do something wrong that might cut their future short.

“There is always that voice that tells you not to do something before you do it, whether you are about to have sex or take a drink, listen to it, it knows what is best for you, if you can listen to it please.”

According to research, in the United States at least 220 celebrities died with a clear indication of substance abuse or overuse between 1970 and 2015. The average age of these stars at the time of death was 38 years.  Seventy-five percent of them are male while prescription opioids are the most significant contributor to the sharp rise in drug-related deaths among high-profile figures.