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June 02, 2023

Roots Picnic headliner Lil Uzi Vert discusses 7-month rehab stint in newly published interview

The rapper talked to a German magazine about overcoming a Xanax addiction while writing their upcoming album. Uzi performs at the Mann Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Music Hip-hop
Lil Uzi Vert Casey Flanigan/imageSPACE/Sipa USA

Lil Uzi Vert, who performs Saturday night at the Roots Picnic, discussed their experience in rehab for Xanax addiction during a recent interview with German magazine 032c.

Lil Uzi Vert is slated to perform Saturday night at the Roots Picnic, the annual hip-hop festival taking place at the Mann Center that also features performances by Lauryn Hill, Usher and others. 

The rapper's homecoming will have added significance on the heels of this week's revelation that Uzi spent seven months in rehab to overcome their drug dependency, including addiction to Xanax.

Uzi is on the most recent cover of German magazine 032c. In the issue, Uzi is interviewed about their addiction recovery and the decision to use they/them pronouns. The "Just Wanna Rock" singer detailed being urged to get treatment by Roc Nation label heads Jay-Z and Desiree Perez.

"I didn't want to do it, but I had to — and I can say now that it was a great thing to do," Uzi told the magazine.

Back in March, Uzi had talked about enjoying the creative benefits of sobriety during the making of their much-anticipated LP, "The Pink Tape."

It was unclear at the time that Uzi had entered rehab, and the timeline of their treatment is not known. In late January, Uzi was in Philly for the Eagles' NFC Championship Game victory, leading the team out onto the field during introductions. 

"The first month and a half were hard, but after that, it was easy, because the people there became my family," Uzi said in the article. "They showed me so many different outlets and ways to cope with life. We did a lot of group talks, a lot of writing on whiteboards."

The eccentric rapper, known for once piercing their forehead with a pink diamond, said the commitment to getting help worked despite initially being reluctant.

"I was so sure that it wasn't going to work, but surprisingly it's pretty effective," Uzi said.

In the past, Uzi had been open about using Xanax, tweeting about the drug after the death of friend and fellow rapper Lil Peep in 2017. The anti-anxiety medication is often used recreationally and can be highly addictive. At the time, hip-hop website Complex reported Uzi had decided to take a break from drugs. 

Lil Uzi Vert, whose real name is Symere Bysil Woods, grew up in the Francisville neighborhood of North Philly. Uzi began rapping in high school as a member of a group called Steaktown. They dropped out of school, committing fully to music, honing a distinctive emo rap style that has since grown into a powerful and popular fusion genre in hip-hop.

Last year, Uzi announced they would be using "they/pronouns," but did not elaborate on the reasons for that decision. Uzi told 032c it was about self-discovery, and they did not fear repercussions from doing so.

"No, I never hesitated," Uzi said. "But I did take my time to learn as much as I could about this before I was able to proceed. Taking the time to figure out who you are is a big part of what it means to be alive. Once you figure out whether you're here with it, there with it, or both, you're not alone anymore. This community offers access to a certain kind of support that you might not have had your entire life because you weren't raised that way. I come from a household where it's not okay to be 'non' anything."

Uzi's set on Saturday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on the Park Stage at The Mann. Lauryn Hill performs after at 9:15 p.m. The festival, organized by legendary Philly hip-hop group the Roots, is now in its 15th year.