Speaking in front of Congress about fentanyl and the effects of addiction on his life will always be the “single most impactful moment” of Jelly Roll‘s life.
The country musician spoke to Rolling Stone‘s Ilana Woldenberg for an episode of the Green Room before performing at Spotify’s Best New Artist party, where he reflected on his visit to Washington, D.C, last month.
“[I had the] opportunity to go speak in front of the people that frankly, I think, are dropping the ball,” he says. “I got to go in there and try to rally support behind the calls that I think shouldn’t be as overshadowed as it is, and to speak for a slice of America that’s not often spoken for and in a positive way.”
“Nobody humanizes addiction, and that’s an important topic… Fentanyl is deeper than drug addiction, he adds. “My only goal in that was to hopefully bring attention to it. And I think I did. Believe it or not, I’ve got a call from about every senator in America.”
Last month, Jelly Roll visited Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to end the spread of fentanyl. The rapper-turned-Grammy-nominated singer has long been open about his past struggles with drugs, including time behind bars for aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell. He has since focused his efforts on helping young people in similar situations from making the same mistake.
“I think it’s important for me to tell you all that I’m not here to defend the use of illegal drugs, and I also understand the paradox of my history as a drug dealer standing in front of this committee,” Jelly Roll said at the hearing. “But equally, I think that’s what makes me perfect to talk about this. I was a part of the problem. I am here now, standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution.”
While speaking to Rolling Stone, the musician — one of the nominees for Best New Artist at Sunday’s Grammys ceremony — reflected on being embraced in Los Angeles by the music industry and connecting with other folks he admires. “I was talking to Dwayne Johnson. And I [saw] John Cena the other day. And I told them both I kind of anchored my career after those two guys in their benevolent spirit,” he says. “I look up to them… That’s who I want to be like… I’ve been a loser my whole life. And in the bottom of the ninth, God made me a winner.”
The singer also revealed he’s working on a new album and that he plays his new music for his wife while she’s in the kitchen cooking to see how she reacts. “She turned around halfway through the first version. She’s like, that’s the best song you’ve ever wrote,” he says.
It’s a big weekend for Jelly Roll. The singer is nominated for Best New Artist against the likes of Gracie Abrams, Fred Again, Ice Spice, Coco Jones, Noah Kahan, Victoria Monét, and the War and Treaty. He’s also up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson.