Much like John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers, Kosha Dillz is on a mission from god. The Jewish rapper extraordinaire is currently behind the wheel of an old 2003 Chevy van, slowly making the arduous cross-country trek from Los Angeles to New York City, where he plans to set the reset button on his life.
Going from doing at least 80 live shows a year (with everyone from Mos Def to Nappy Roots) to performing for a six-year-old’s backyard birthday party in Arvada, Colorado is just one of the many ways the coronavirus pandemic has impacted his typically flourishing career.
But during his time on the road, he’s had ample amounts of time to reflect, and he knows some of the situations he’s put himself in aren’t exactly healthy. After all, Kosha is a rare breed. With 16 years of sobriety under his belt (to the day) he must guard his recovery like he guards his life, something that’s even more challenging when you’re immersed in the music industry.
On one particular stop in Nevada, Kosha was whisked away in a Ferrari — his first time in that type of luxury car — and once he got to the lavish spot he’d planned on sleeping for the night, he found himself around a familiar white substance that once wreaked havoc on his life. It suddenly dawned on him he’d forgotten how life on the road could be so precarious.
“The lifestyle of touring is close to using,” Kosha tells Bandwagon Magazine. “I’m quite grateful I’ve had a break to see how problematic being on tour can be. It was a surprise. It was almost as if I forgot how crazy it can get on a road trip. Sometimes convenience and trying to save money on a hotel room can put you in a compromising situation.”
He adds, “Being clean/sober just goes back to the lifestyle of being on the road. It can change your spirit because you forget who are outside of these places. The road is a drug in itself. We yearn for the chaos of performance and the opportunity to schmooze. To even touch some sort of people during coronavirus is a wild time.”
Fortunately for Kosha, who was recently hit by a car while riding his bicycle in L.A., Fort Collins was part of his route and he knew two people who are in recovery there. It felt imperative to meet with them in an effort to get his head right. COVID-19 has made it easier than ever to find a 12-step meeting any time of day thanks to the glorious invention of Zoom, but Kosha hasn’t exactly seized the opportunity. Sometimes, meeting with a few like-minded friends is the best it’s going to get.
“To truly be in recovery on the road, you need to be in a committed relationship with it where you don’t make ‘the other’ jealous or uncomfortable,” he explains. “Some of the best times on the road are spent staying out late and hanging out where you aren’t supposed to be. Going home early and spending a few extra dollars for spiritual sanity is hard when you’re trying to save a few dollars.”
Despite the challenges of the road, Kosha has had some soul awakening experiences. While in Beaver, Utah, he walked into a place that sold t-shirts, coffee mugs and stickers that said simply, “I Love Beaver,” which inadvertently brought him joy.
“This taught me a valuable lesson as a musician,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be that deep in this game of life. Be a good person. Smile. Be happy. Simple.”