Bow Wow—né Shad Moss—candidly spoke about the extent of his addiction to lean that landed him in the hospital. Lean (purple drank, purp, sizzurp, syrup) is promethazine (an antihistamine) and codeine combined with a soft beverage and cough syrup.

The 36-year-old rapper appeared on The Art of Dialogue podcast and reflected on his addiction battle with lean, revealing it reached its peak when he was promoting and working on his joint album, Face Off, with Omarion in 2007.

In the video posted on YouTube Feb. 14, the interviewer mentioned Bow Wow and Omarion’s 2007 interview with BET’s The Black Carpet, where the former 106 & Park host grew irritated with the reporter Touré and walked off because he felt he was being disrespectful and unserious with his questions. But the interview was reportedly a prank. 


Bow Wow disclosed his lean addiction affected his emotions around that time.

“I was on lean,” he said. “I was sipping so much syrup, bruh. And I said this, too, right after Mac Miller had died. I spoke on that shit. I was drinking that shit like crazy. If you go back and watch…The Road to Platinum documentary series on BET, if you watch that, you’ll notice so many white Styrofoam cups, and you’ll see so many Hawaiian Punch bottles in the studio. I was losing my fucking mind.”

Bow Wow said he and his crew always had lean on them everywhere they went, but it all came to a head during his tour with Chris Brown.

“The opening night was in Cincinnati,” he explained. “When I got off the stage, I collapsed,” the rapper shared. “I went straight to Cincinnati University Hospital. I’m talking about my stomach was so fucked up that I ended up going back home to Atlanta after the first show. So, mind you, I missed Baltimore. I missed Chicago. I missed Detroit. These big Bow Wow markets.”

He continued, “I’m sitting in the hospital not knowing what the fuck going on, and when I get back home, and the shit gets worse. I’m throwing up, I’m shivering in the bed, I’m sweating, I’m going through it. I go to the hospital again. This is summertime.”

Bow Wow said during Atlanta’s hot summers, he’d wear layered clothing because of how cold he was.

“I didn’t know I was having withdrawals. That’s how much lean I was consuming,” he said.

Bow Wow credited his late publicist Patti Webster for maintaining his career while he recovered, making publications and readers believe that dehydration caused his collapse.

“I had to get right, man. God rest her soul, I had the best publicist ever,” he said. “She put out a press release for dehydration. Wasn’t no dehydration—I was fucked up off lean. That’s just good PR. We didn’t want the world to know that 18, 19-year-old Bow was heavy on the drank.”

Bow Wow now knows his boundaries and said he’s sticking to weed and tequila. 

After Miller died in 2018, Bow Wow took to X, formerly Twitter, to urge his followers to save the youth from dying young, using his syrup addiction as a testament.

“Kick that shit! Be a good son or daughter,” Bow Wow’s tweet read. “Be the best you. [I’m going to] start being more vocal. We gotta save the youth from going out early. Parents watch your kids. Explain to them. We want y’all to live, man. I almost died fucking with syrup. To this day, I’m affected.”


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