Lil Xan says the music industry is the worst place for people battling addiction

According to the rapper, his own manager fueled his substance use disorder.

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 27: Lil Xan performs on stage at La Riviera on March 27, 2019 in Madrid, Spain...
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The music industry has been under fire lately, and for good reason. In an Instagram Live session from yesterday, rapper Lil Xan not only accused his manager of fueling his drug addiction — he calls out the entire music industry for its complicit and predatory treatment of artists with substance abuse issues.

In a nearly 12-minute video saved on his Instagram page as “The Dangers of The Music Industry,” the 25-year-old artist alleges his former manager and former Shady Records/Aftermath artist Stat Quo supplied the self-professed “drug addict” with drugs when withdrawal symptoms hurt his ability to perform while overseas on Nicki Minaj and Juice WRLD’s The Nicki WRLD Tour in 2019. Xan reveals he almost died on that tour due to his drug addiction, and is preparing to sue his former manager for endangering his life. To Xan, Stat supplying him with drugs in order to guarantee he performed is a symptom of a sick music industry.

“They just want to keep you alive long enough to make their money, and if you die, it’s even better for them because it’s easier to manage a dead artist than an alive one,” Xan said.

The impetus for him publicly airing his grievances was a phone conversation he had with Stat shortly before going on Instagram Live, in which he claims Stat denied ever supplying Xan with drugs. According to Xan, his friends had the foresight to save screenshots to supposedly corroborate Xan’s claims in the event he died. He and an unknown person who can be heard on the live recording contends Xan asked for help, and the unknown voice seemingly began to imply Stat told Xan he couldn’t get health insurance before Xan abruptly cut them off. Stat Quo didn’t immediately respond to Mic’s request for comment.

Throughout the brutally honest video, Xan acknowledged how he could’ve been another casualty of the music industry’s soulless pursuit for hits. Viral sensation Lil Peep died in 2017 at the age of 21 from an overdose on a tour bus in Tucson, Ariz. with two shows left on his Come Over When You’re Sober tour, named after his debut album of the same title. Two years after his unfortunate death, Peep’s mother Liza Womack sued First Access Entertainment, the talent agency and label behind Peep’s career, for supplying Peep with illegal drugs in order for him to perform on stage. Womack alleges the day before her son’s November 15, 2017 death, the young rapper informed his tour managers he didn’t want to perform, only to be told he’d need to be sick in order for the canceled show to be covered by their insurance policy. She also alleges the tour managers steered Peep to take too many Xanax pills.

Peep’s death and Xan’s near-death experience with drug addiction reopens a debate over record labels’ responsibility to the health of their artists that has been raging on for years. Three days before Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning, she performed her last show. Six weeks before her final show, she checked out of rehab clinic Priory Clinic after completing an assessment she took in preparation for the European performances she was embarking on. Fans and Winehouse’s own label Island Records criticized the singer’s management team Metropolis for booking her for a European tour so close to her leaving rehab. Jazz Summers, longtime manager of acts like The Verve and Wham!, told The Independent keeping an artist with addiction issues from performing boils down to protecting an artist from themselves.

"I've dealt with artists who are addicts. You are dealing with the addiction, not the person. Often it's the artist who wants to go out and perform and they get abusive if you try to stop them. They can appear fine until they get to the dressing room but they can relapse very quickly."

While Winehouse’s label isn’t being accused of willfully encouraging her addiction by supplying her with illegal and/or harmful substances, Summers’s comments perpetuate this stereotype of artists as difficult dictators who will always get what they want. If Xan’s allegations about Stat are true, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn Stat felt obligated to either ensure Xan was able to perform and financially support himself or deal with an unhappy artist. But, Xan’s label was fully aware of a drug addiction he often spoke about in his music and continued to promote his brand with singles like “Slingshot,” which start off with Xan glorifying his addiction with lines like “I like lean, I like drugs.” The same is true for the label home of Lil Peep’, who morosely sang “everybody knows I numb it with the drugs” on the chorus of “Avoid,” the last song he released while alive. If an artist is gaining success from songs that are fueled by their drug addiction, it becomes harder for them to see their addiction as anything but necessary, and that’s where record labels could take responsibility for the artist’s health by not profiting off of their pain and preventing them from releasing music supporting such deleterious behavior. Record labels already have a predatory level of control over an artist’s music output, so allowing a drug addict to profit off of that addiction is nothing short of complicity.

Xan said in his Instagram Live video he’s been sober for the last four months, and attributes that to why he’s been releasing music recently. But he also attests that the ordeal with his former manager killed his love for making music. 2022 is starting to looking a year of reckoning for a music industry that’s being exposed one flaw at a time.