In a new interview with Rolling Stone, your favorite producer (if not now, at least in the late ’90s) opened up about some of the ups and downs of the last few years in terms of his music, his personal life and his health. Timbaland reached a point a few years back where he felt he’d hit a wall in terms of success. The work he was doing for artists wasn’t necessarily charting as he’d hoped, he was losing a lot of money, and the 45-year-old’s marriage to wife Monique fell apart. And to make things all the more complicated, he had a drug addiction that he was hiding.
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“I was on OxyContin,” he said in the interview. He revealed that he began taking the strong pain medication when he was in his thirties to deal with nerve issues that came from a gunshot wound suffered when he was a teen. As his creativity struggled, his relationship became rocky and he found himself dealing with depression. Because of all of that, his use of the medication ended up increasing to a scary level.
“Music is a gift and curse,” he said. “Once you’re not popping, it plays with your mind. The pills helped block out the noise – I’d just sleep all day. I remember Jay-Z told me one time, ‘Don’t do no more interviews’ – because I was saying crazy sh-t.”
And his new partner, a girlfriend named Michelle, said things got so crazy that she worried he wouldn’t wake up sometimes.
“It was so bad, to the point where I couldn’t even sleep,” she told the magazine. “I’d put my hand right by his nose, just to see if he was still breathing.”
It comes out in the article that he did overdose three years ago, and it was a wake-up call. The very next day he started working to get clean.
“All I can tell you is that there was a light,” he said. “I woke up trying to catch my breath, like I was underwater. But through that whole thing I saw life – I saw where I would be if I don’t change, and where I could be if I did.”
Timbaland shared this harrowing story in light of the recent deaths of musicians he had actually worked with, been friends with and admired who’d struggled with addiction, including Prince, rocker Chris Cornell and Michael Jackson.
“I thought about Michael Jackson,” he said. “I didn’t want to be old and taking these pills.”
And now in a better place, including creatively (he just finished working with constant collaborators Jay Z, Justin Timberlake and more), he also wanted to share his story to help the newer generation of musicians, particularly rappers who are proud recreational drug users, to move away from that.
“I came from the era of drug dealers [making rap hits],” he said. “Now we’re in the era of drug users.”
“These kids come from a place where they don’t have money, don’t have a real home,” he added. “It affects them, and you hear it in the music.”