There was a time Vancouver’s Swollen Members was ubiquitous, touring non-stop behind a prolific output of material, and taking home three consecutive Juno Awards for best rap recording from 2001 to 2003. The group’s fourth win would come in 2007 for their album, Black Magic, but behind the scenes things were grim.
Like an episode of A&E’s addiction reality show Intervention, rapper Prevail and DJ/producer Rob The Viking worried and took steps to help their bandmate, rapper Mad Child, who escalated from a Percocet addiction to Oxycontin, as many as 20 80-mg a day — the equivalent of 320 Percocet, Mad Child puts in perspective.
It is nothing short of a miracle that Swollen Members have returned intact — with a fourth member no less, singer/rapper Tre Nyce — and with an impressive new album, Armed To The Teeth. The group is currently on a cross-Canada tour that brings them to Toronto’s Lee’s Palace tonight.
When Prevail finally clued into what his long-time friend and musical partner had got himself into the past two years, he says, “I was talking to (real name) Shane’s parents quite frequently, letting them know what was going on ... We wanted to keep each other informed.
“I think we all needed a support network, just in case,” says Prevail.
Mad Child, whose struggle can be heard throughout Armed To The Teeth, particularly on the detailed track My Life, after several tries at rehab got clean at his parents’ home six months ago with the help of a drug prescribed by his family doctor called Suboxone, an opioid medication to treat people addicted to illicit opiates.
“That’s an important thing that I want to let people know about, that you can go on Suboxone and get off this s—. It is a miracle drug,” says Mad Child. “It doesn’t get you high. It just makes it so that you can live your life again and it blocks you from thinking about doing that drug anymore.”
Mad Child has no second thoughts about being so public about his addiction.
“I definitely want to be able to talk to kids,” he says. “The reason I’m so open about it is I put a couple of songs out on MySpace on my own little page before the album dropped and I got an overwhelming response from kids or young adults that were like ‘Yo, I’m going through the same s— and this really helps me.’”