Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

I was an alcohol addict… Cal_Vin opens up about substance abuse

By Bruce Ndlovu

When multi-award-winning rapper Cal_Vin came back from the United Kingdom at the end of 2017, he finally came face to face with his worst fears.

Cal_Vin (@puzzlemoment_pictures)
Cal_Vin (@puzzlemoment_pictures)

For a while before that tour, the rapper had realised that he would start shaking in the mornings following an alcohol binge. Now, instead of just affecting him after heavy drinking sessions, the shakes had started grabbing him while he was imbibing as well.

It was then that the doctor diagnosed him with an alcohol-related ailment. The wordsmith was drowning in the generous amounts of alcohol he was taking on a regular basis and his doctor told him that he should stop. If he did not, his body would give in.

“When I came back from the UK I discovered that I had this condition and my doctor told me to leave the booze for a while. I would drink and just start shaking.

“It started as a form of a hangover but eventually I would shake even during the drinking. That’s when I went to a doctor and he told me that my body couldn’t take it anymore. He told me to take a break from alcohol,” the rapper told Sunday Life.

The rapper quit alcohol for a while although he did not make it public. As someone who has lost friends to substance abuse, he could not afford to snub a medical professional’s advice.

“My friend died because of alcohol poisoning. We were just drinking and he said I’ll be back I need to sleep a little but that was the last time we saw him. My friend never came back. The truth is that we were abusing alcohol,” he said.

After a brief break-up with the bottle the rapper was soon back in love with it again, drowning in the wise waters. After another 60- day break from drinking last year, Cal_vin once again found himself imbibing excessively. Now he wants to quit again and this time, he says, for good.

“Last year someone dared me and said can you even go a week without drinking because you do it every day. I said that I can if I wanted to. The person said that if you can do it for 30 days I’ll give you money. So I did the 30 days and I ended up doing 60 days.

“It wasn’t something that I took seriously but during that time I started to adopt better habits. I would spend more time in the studio, avoiding people because I knew that would lead to drinking sessions. I would wake up with no hangover and all I would want to do was work. That’s how I made the album Nhliziyo,” he said.

Cal_vin is fresh from getting crowned as Bulawayo’s number one artiste at the recent ROIL Bulawayo Arts Awards. Even though he scooped the most coveted gong on the night, Bulawayo’s Man of the Year believes that alcohol has altered the artiste that he once was. He no longer works as hard as he used to and whenever his name is mentioned people think of his drinking first rather than his prowess on the microphone.

“This time around I had a conversation with a friend of mine and we were drinking and he said Cal_vin you drink a lot, don’t you think you’re now ruining your reputation? People now know you for drinking more than your music. I remember during the run-up to the awards I remember people saying Cal_vin and your friends will start drinking during the ceremony and they were laughing about it. I remember thinking that okay, so now we’re known for that?

“I realised that everyone when they come to my house they always bring alcohol. Now I’m already classified as a drunkard instead of the best rapper in the country. So this friend of mine walked me through everything that people were saying about me because of my addiction and also the fact that I would curse and get in fights when I’m high and also how we usually found ourselves in places we weren’t supposed to be,” he said.

The BAAs have become a social gathering, fashion show and award ceremony rolled into one and on 29 June Cal_vin found himself rubbing shoulders with some of Bulawayo’s business and industry heavyweights. Highly intoxicated as he was, he left the ZITF with a gong in his hands. However, he also felt that he had left his reputation behind.

“For example at the awards we would be sitting next to people like Busisa Moyo (United Refineries CEO) and we’re drunk and cursing. We’re in our zone and we don’t give a damn. But we’re doing near people who can potentially propel us to the next level. They now get discouraged and perhaps think maybe we shouldn’t support these ones.

“They’re always fallouts. Sometimes you see people have a negative attitude towards you and you wonder what the reason behind this is.”

Financially the Luveve bred rapper believes his addiction has affected him as well as he squanders his money on booze.

“It affects your financial stability as well. All the money that you get you just squander on alcohol. People say you could have bought this and that and I could have, but all the money went to alcohol. I was going through my booking contacts and I realised I made US $13 000 around 2015 through gigs alone but I didn’t do a single meaningful thing.

“I would get paid US $500 to US$1 000 to be on stage for 30 minutes and I would blow that money. I would tell myself I’ll make this same amount again the next night. I travelled around the world and to Europe but all that money was squandered,” he said.

When Cal_vin first emerged, he shamed fellow rappers with a work ethic that saw him release songs almost at will. However, with alcohol becoming his number one love, the musician in him suffered.

“My productivity suffered as well. I used to release a song every Friday and that was when I was drinking less. Now I do a song after four months and that’s just not me. My work ethic is crazy but I became lazy. I started blaming everything on everyone apart from myself,” he said.

The rapper said that although his late father had also been an alcoholic, he had made sure that a young Cal_vin never got exposed to his lifestyle. This, he said, was what he also wanted for his children. If he were to continue drinking, that would not be possible.

“I’m not speaking against alcohol. People handle it differently. Some handle it well but I know that personally I can’t handle it. If I get drunk right now I could close the doors and start fighting everyone. If I get money I can leave a drinking spot without a cent on me.

“I just drank not because I wanted to suppress any pain but rather because I loved it. Alcohol was more like a celebration for me and I never turned to it because of sadness. I just got addicted to it. Today I could have been drunk before even talking to you. I would have probably drinking on my way here. I was drinking every day of the week,” he said.

Now the musician is turning a new leaf, hoping never to back slide again. He needs your prayers! Sunday News