Exclusive: 'Jail was important for me': How Scribe lost his way, rehab and recovery six months sober

Scribe (pictured) spoke exclusively to Newshub about his recovery.
Scribe (pictured) spoke exclusively to Newshub about his recovery. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Fresh out of rehab and and feeling more clear-minded than ever before, rapper Scribe has a renewed outlook on life now he's six months sober. 

Having completed all court judgements against him, he has started fresh and is ready to offer some insight into getting back on track. 

"I'm feeling really good about my life. I'm still me, and all the things I've done is always going to be me, but it's a new me," he says. 

"I really like who I am now, for the first time in my life."

Scribe (pictured performing at Friday Jams on Sunday) is six months clean after a stint in jail which he says he needed to get straight.
Scribe (pictured performing at Friday Jams on Sunday) is six months clean after a stint in jail which he says he needed to get straight. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In an exclusive interview with Newshub, he's opening up about how he lost his way, prison time and why it was the best thing for him. 

At the end of 2018, a series of bail breaches landed him behind bars for three months - a punishment he today understands was necessary to sort himself out. 

"Jail was important for me to go, and just get clean," he says. "It gave me a lot of time to assess my situation, it gave me a lot of time to get my mind right."   

"I was on 23-hour lockdown in solitary, with either one hour in the wing or in the yard." 

He received more than 100 letters from prisoners around the country asking if he could be transferred to their wings, and says he even garnered some unwanted correspondence from females asking to be his girlfriend.  

With fame came hard times for Scribe (pictured with his second Tui award for the night, Best Urban/Hip Hop at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards).
With fame came hard times for Scribe (pictured with his second Tui award for the night, Best Urban/Hip Hop at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards). Photo credit: Getty Images.

After his release, Scribe was in a really strong place mentally but it wasn't enough. He says he didn't have the tools to stop himself from slipping up once back in the community. 

"It's hard not to go back to your own ways. There's a saying 'you sit in the barber chair long enough, you're going to get a haircut'."  

Going to rehab turned out to be exactly what he needed, attending an intensive programme at Moana House in Dunedin. 

Everyone there is from jail and for many, it's their last chance to learn.

"This place is tough. If you really want to change Moana house is the only place that can help you. But you have to be willing and fully submit to the program.

"You go to rehab but there's no magic wand. What I really learned is the issues and the pain that I carry, I am always going to have. It's actually about managing it. It's about identifying it and managing it on a daily basis."

He completed four months and has transitioned back into the community after graduating from a day programme in Christchurch, He Waka Tapu. 

The 40-year-old turned to alcohol and drugs while in the limelight, before eventuating down a destructive path which saw his career and personal life falter.
The 40-year-old turned to alcohol and drugs while in the limelight, before eventuating down a destructive path which saw his career and personal life falter. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Scribe says it's common for people who go through rehab to meet themselves while completing programmes and he was no different. 

"I met myself, he was a five-year-old little boy who was scared and needed a hug. I was able to tell him 'it's okay, you're safe now, all that stuff is over'."  

The father-of-four says today that without being confronted by his ways, he would never have dealt with the baggage he's been carrying. He says he now regrets some of his actions. 

"A lot of the psychological trauma which fuelled ingrained behaviours were wrong," he admits.  

Music came as a "saving grace" from being a junkie but his sudden popularity came with extreme highs and, after losing his way, lows covered media along the way - at times cruelly. 

"Before I found music, I was in street gangs - I was doing a lot of dodgy stuff, but falling in love with hip hop gave me something that I love more than drugs and more than a negative way of looking at life. It became a positive life force that I really held on to. I think I was very lucky to find success with hip hop music from this city," he says.  

Scribe (pictured on stage) at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2008) says music came as a "saving grace" from being a junkie.
Scribe (pictured on stage) at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2008) says music came as a "saving grace" from being a junkie. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Hailing from Christchurch, the hit maker, real name Malo Ioane Luafutu, is immensely proud of his roots. He always has been. In the opening verse in the title track off his 2003 album The Crusader he lays his love for the city down. 

It was the catalogue that thrust him under a spotlight, opening the way for a life in the fast lane with more money and notoriety than he could have ever predicted. 

He turned to drugs throughout his glory - a habit normalised for the rap artist as a child growing up in Aranui. 

He smoked his first joint at five with his older brother before using drugs recreationally at 14. By 17, he was hooked on injecting morphine and committing crime to keep up with the lifestyle. 

"Methamphetamine is such an insidious drug where it can just creep up on you and you don't realise the kind of impact it's had on you until it's too late." 

His bad ways managed to fly under the radar after his second album but when the 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck his home city on February 22, 2011, Scribe's world was flipped. 

He lost his best friend and cousin Jeff Sanft, who died in the quake. 

"It was such a massively traumatic experience for me." 

Scribe pictured following Sanft's funeral at the Kerrs Chapel
Scribe pictured following Sanft's funeral at the Kerrs Chapel

The pair were living together at the time and Scribe was the last to see him alive. He had been considering leaving the house with Sanft, but changed his mind at the last minute. 

"After something like that happens, you re-evaluate everything in your life." 

After Sanft's burial, Scribe didn't want to do music any more, all that really mattered was his family and his friends. 

As he struggled with being a Kiwi celebrity, he says his natural inclination was to try and destroy his image. 

"Even when I was at the peak of my success, I never felt like I deserved it. I was using drugs to escape this reality that I felt so uncomfortable with. I hated being looked up to, it gave me anxiety."  

In January, Scribe told Newshub he thought about taking his own life throughout his struggles. He says that didn't come from a place of "poor me" but instead "I think this is a logical choice to help my family because I feel like I am such a burden". 

"When I was so mentally f**ked from the drugs, it seemed like the right choice," he says. 

His priority now is being the best dad and husband he can possibly be. Scribe says he has nailed a really robust routine. 

Scribe performing Dave Dobbyn's It Dawned on Me at the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Awards at Vector Arena.
Scribe performing Dave Dobbyn's It Dawned on Me at the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Awards at Vector Arena. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Scribe takes his kids to school, he picks them up, he goes to the gym and sleeps at night. He's also perfecting new music, aiming to share it early next year. 

He says the key is keeping busy, prioritising his health and keeping connected to the outpatient treatment at He Waka Tapu. 

He's working on shaking his mind frame from believing he's not good enough. 

"I think it comes part and parcel with being a really creative person, you have to have a lot of shit that you've been through and carry, and I think in some crazy way, that's what fuels your creativity. 

"I've always been the underdog but I feel like I am back in that place where I have an opportunity to turn this all around."

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