Giving Addicts A Voice
How Recovering Artists Worldwide, with a clean and sober record label are using music to spread a positive message to those in recovery and those still sick and suffering
Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll — or hip-hop, in the case of Christopher “Bobble” Heinzelmann. The product of a drug-addicted mother and an abusive step-father, Heinzelmann listened to Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit for emotional support. He took copious amounts of hard-core drugs for mental support and performed on stage for financial support.
But the rock star lifestyle wasn’t working for him. “Even though I was doing big shows, my career never took off,” Heinzelmann says. “My solo stuff was not good. The thing that held me back was that I was using.”
In 2010, Heinzelmann stopped using — and his career skyrocketed. With renewed energy, a focused mind and a distinct point of view, Heinzelmann started working on an album. Even though he was clean, his music was dark.He rapped about selling drugs and living on the streets. “I was playing the role,” he says.
Within a year and a half, he was on tour with Nappy Roots and Twisted Insane. But with every tour date, Heinzelmann felt his ego grow bigger. His music became more negative and his commitment to sobriety slept away. Play the role of a rock star long enough, and eventually, it’s not just a character anymore. Four days before his 2013 tour with Field Mob, Heinzelmann relapsed. “I saw it coming,” he says.
Fortunately, he had also seen the power of recovery. “Last time, there wasn’t a day I was grateful to be clean,” Heinzelmann says. “I was staying clean out of spite. This time, it’s different. I needed that last run. I needed to realize a lot of things.”
The minute Heinzelmann got out of treatment, he received calls to go on tour with big artists. This time, he knew better. Heinzelmann still wanted to write and perform, but he also wanted to help other artists who had been in the same dark places he’d been in before.
In April 2016, Heinzelmann and his friend Sam Korab launched Recovering Artists Worldwide (RAW). A record label based in south Florida that signs recovering musicians who, through their music, spread a positive message of hope to those in recovery and those still sick and suffering.
“Doing negative music is easy,” Heinzelmann says. “It’s easy to put that tough-guy image up. It’s more uncomfortable doing positive music. Now you’re letting people know who you really are. You’re vulnerable, and I don’t always like the feeling.”
“When I write now, I try to sit there and think about what I’m saying,” Heinzelmann says. “The platform I’m on — it could save someone’s life.”
In addition to performing at clean and sober events, RAW artists play live shows at treatment centers to bring their message to those in the earliest stages of recovery. “We understand that when someone begins the process of recovery, they often feel like their life is over or that they will never have fun again,” Heinzelmann says. “We want to demonstrate that they can enjoy a clean and sober life, have fun, and pursue their passions in recovery.”