Rapper and former “Love and Hip Hop: New York” star Juelz Santana recently opened up about his addiction to lean during a recent appearance on “Drink Champs” with host N.O.R.E and DJ EFN. The 40-year-old spoke candidly about his struggles to kick his habit and how he doesn’t fault fellow emcee Paul Wall for introducing him to the cough syrup.
“I was drinking lean, and did I have an addiction to lean? For sure,” the rapper admitted during the Saturday premiere of the YouTube podcast. “I was addicted to the point to where I was drinking it every day, and if I stopped drinking it, yeah, I would’ve got sick ’cause that’s what happens with the opiates and sh-t, withdrawals and stuff.”
The Harlem native alleged he was introduced to the substance, popularized and often glorified in the rap scene, by the veteran Texas emcee Paul Wall, “kind of introduced me to it a little bit, just on some ‘Taste it,’ you know what I mean.” Still, Juelz did not blame the “Sittin’ Sideways” artist for his subsequent addiction.
“I’m a grown-ass man; I do what I want,” he declared. “Paul Wall did not drug — Nah, no way. I’m not gon’ do that to that man.” He took full accountability, noting that his company did little to assist with the issue. “But yeah, he put me on, and you know, me and [Lil] Wayne being close and recording that album at the time didn’t help, of course,” he continued. “We were just fully not feeling our face all around the board.”
The former reality star wasn’t always open about his past with the culture-coined “Purple Drank.” Juelz, born LaRon Louis James, initially denied he suffered from addiction after being ousted by fellow Dipset-mate rapper Cam’ron who claimed lean was the star’s desired libation during studio sessions in an interview with XXL in 2009.
“You would come to the studio and see a hundred Hawaiian Punch pre-mixed with the stuff in it. We already smoked mad weed; you don’t need to be on Robitussin,” he stated. Juelz ultimately admitted to indulging but maintained he was not an addict, all while shedding light on Cam’ron’s alleged usage of the opioid Percocet.