By Ryan Shea
Just blaze, and I don’t mean the rapper.
As someone who has grown up with a love for hip-hop since he was the tender age of nine, I grew up with a better understanding of the lyricism rappers spit in their songs. Although I didn’t quite grasp the context of it when I was young, as I grew up I soon realized that a lot of the content had drug references, most notably ones about smoking marijuana. Heck, I didn’t even get a lot of the drug references in my favorite movie “Clueless” (“Rolling with the homies,” “I could use some sort of herbal refreshment.”)
Accordingly, hip-hop and marijuana have been in each other lives as long as hip-hop has been a relevant mainstay in pop culture. We have artists like Dr. Dre who topped the charts over a decade ago with “Chronic 2001” and other artists from Kid Cudi, Snoop Dogg and the Oscar winning Three Six Mafia who have had moderate to huge success with songs devoted to their love of marijuana.
Remember Afroman’s “Because I Got High?” This tongue-in-cheek song cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and hit number one internationally; a song simply about why Afroman couldn’t do particular things because he got high. Recently, Afroman reinvented the song to act as a legalization anthem to address the positive things he can do because he gets high. So as long as hip-hop artists are smoking that pipe, chances are there is going to be a song or two about their love of the herb.
Now that the marijuana industry has become quite the force in American culture, several hip-hop acts are partnering up with particular marijuana brands in an effort to expand their repertoire and gain a following. Snoop Dogg currently has a vape pen being sold by Grenco Science. Back in 2012, he had custom King Size rolling papers imprinted with his lyrics. Snoop Dogg is definitely a trailblazer, most recently claiming that he has smoked marijuana in the White House. Meanwhile, Wiz Khalifa has partnered with RAW rolling papers for his own custom line of smoking accessories and he also has his own strain of marijuana. Then, Caviar Gold paid Redman and other rappers to include its specific strain in a song and music video.
Now granted, these three hip-hop artists already have quite the personal history with marijuana. On a recent episode of E!’s “Fashion Police,” cohost Kelly Osbourne stated that when Wiz Khalifa and his then wife Amber Rose stopped by the set, you could tell it was them from a mile away because the studio suddenly smelled like marijuana. Redman is another great example of mixing media and marijuana. He starred in the 2001 box office smash “How High” with fellow emcee Method Man.
That being said, the question in play here is should hip-hop artists become involved in projects and products that directly relate to the marijuana industry? The answer is simple. Yes. This would be more of a debate if artists known for squeaky clean images decided to dabble in the industry. For example, look at Taylor Swift—homegrown American and great songwriter who just broke music records by selling close to 1.3 million copies of her latest album “1989”.
Now let’s say Taylor Swift decides to do something like Redman, Snoop and Wiz. Would that hurt her sales? Absolutely. She has been smart and calculating in her career by making songs that work with the 10-28 female age range, and if she decided to invest in marijuana it could be a turn off, not only to her fans but also to the parents purchasing her music for their children. Then again, if you took the alternative version of Taylor Swift like Lorde or Tove Lo, it may not be that much of a shock as their lyrical content is a bit more deep and dark than what Taylor offers.
Up-and-coming rapper DiMi Marc said it perfectly when it comes to answering this question:
“I have no problems with rappers deciding to get involved with legal marijuana businesses. First and foremost, it’s certainly better than them being involved in illegal ones. But more importantly, I come from a a very strong business background and believe that artists should be investing their earnings to achieve and maintain financial stability. Think about it, we really don’t need another headline claiming that a rapper has gone broke. (Side note: Pay your taxes!)”
“Marijuana ventures make sense for a lot of rappers. It’s an emerging industry with lots of growth potential. More and more states are legalizing marijuana with the general trend pointing to a not so distant future of it being legal nationwide. Despite a desire not to stereotype, most rappers can be considered ‘experts’ on marijuana. Many claim to smoke daily and are particularly knowledgeable about the different strands and names. Similarly, some also come from backgrounds of selling the marijuana, even if that experience was technically illegal, meaning that they have already acquired strategies for marketing the product in the face of competition.”