Afroman’s message hard to decipher through the smoke
Afroman is a one-hit wonder of a different kind.
The 2001 song “Because I Got High” is still popular at concerts and on ring tones. The song is a good representation for Afroman’s music: An anthem for free-spirited irreverence of a stoned rapper who pays dearly for living with his head in the clouds. He can’t get off his couch to clean his room, can’t make it to class, keep his family together or pay his child support. Every malady is explained “Because I Got High.” Afroman finally ends up laughing all the way to sleeping on a sidewalk.
“In two minutes, eleven seconds, I had written a hit, but before that it had taken me nearly seven months to recognize I had a marijuana problem,” Afroman, whose really a 30-year-old named Joseph Foreman, says on his MySpace page — which describes him as a “reformed rapper.”
“It was only then that I realized everyone talks about smoking weed, but no one ever really talks about the effects of marijuana. We know about the effects of drinking beer, we know about the effects of looking at a naked lady, but nobody knew about the effects of smoking weed. Actually, the problem was more that the people who did know weren’t songwriters; they were just dudes walking down the beach or whatever. So I decided to write that song.”
Nevertheless, he dubs himself “The World’s Highest Rapper.”
If Afroman’s message is to be careful about your lifestyle it’s hard to uncover through all the smoke and giggles. The lyrics are as juvenile as those of the Red Hot Chili Peppers without the ostentatiousness. And a lot more crude.
The first song, “I Know All About You (Blank),” offered on his Web site describes a fantasy with Beyonce, which serves as a stronger message than any parental warning label you might find on a CD or record store entry way: If you bring your girlfriend to this show, she better have a sense of humor. A really good sense of humor.
While Afroman’s music can be a blunt slap in the face of good taste, it has anything but the angry or violent lyrics heard from some rappers.
He lists his influences as Too Short, DJ Quik and 2 Live Crew.
“Music was really made for a good time,” he said. “Nowadays, most Los Angeles rappers want to kill you, which is natural, because it’s L.A., and a lot of those dudes are gang members who’ve come off the street. Well, I don’t really care about this guy trying to kill me in the verse; I just like the funk he’s rapping to. So on (his latest album) ‘Afroholic … Even Better Times,’ I decided to fillet all the bull. I tried to get rid of all the hostility and animosity out there that usually goes with the funk, and just rap with clever, uplifting lyrics.”
Afroman has always been about making light of a situation. He said he was kicked out of school when he was in eighth grade for wearing his pants low. So he wrote a song about it and sold 400 tapes to his teachers and fellow students.
The success motivated him to pursue his penchant for satirical rap.
“I’d hustle to all the swap meets in L.A. until security ran me out,” said Afroman who lived in the South Central section of Los Angeles before moving, as a teenager, to Palmdale, Calif. “I also went to all the low-rider shows and Venice Beach. Basically, any function where I thought I could flip over a dollar and expose people to my music.”
Finally in 2001, Afroman had a giant hit and he’s been riding high ever since.
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