How High Can Hip-Hop Go?

People have always smoked marijuana, for one reason or

another. Some people justifiable

reasoning was religious/spiritual or medicinal, others used the


state to escape, some indulged to make stupidity seem gut busting

hilarious, if

not genius, while others just geeked and got the munchies. 

I’m from the red light, beaded sectional

dividers, burnt incense, wicker chair, top paper era. So,

you know I know. I came of age during a time

when you

were more likely to smell someone smoking marijuana than actually seeing


smoke marijuana. And in many cases,

that was only if you could differentiate the scent of hemp from


The first rap group that I recall hearing


marijuana in a rhyme was (my favorite group) Run-DMC. In

the song, Here We Go, Run said, “I

keep a bag of cheeba inside my locker.”

During that time, though many people were indulging in the

activity, some

even using harsher drugs than weed, the mention of it in their music was

sporadic and limited, hardly non-existent.

And we definitely didn’t see video footage of hip hop artists

intentionally or unbeknownst to them, caught in the act. 

Fast forward a few years in the music,

the early nineties and beyond, damn near everybody is getting high in

the booth

or on video. Now, I’m not Nancy

Reagan, no resemblance at all. I’m

more like Barack Obama, or dare I say, Bill Clinton. So,

if ever questioned by the

gatekeepers to an opportunity in politics or a government appointed job,


answer is either, “I was in college” or “I didn’t inhale.” 

Speaking of college, Dr. Dre dropped the Chronic while I

was there. By no means would I ever

suggest that Dr. Dre influenced anyone that I know, to smoke weed


inhaling, while in college,” but I will say, it seems to me, that ever

since Dr.

Dre first released his album entitled the Chronic, that weed references

in rap

music and the public acceptance and participation in the community

escalated to

an all time high (pun intended).

That’s a hell of an unsubstantiated claim to make, but for some


it seems so true to say, so for the purpose of this piece, I’m sticking


it. Segue.

Eighteen years after the Chronic and I am

watching an old

interview from 2009 of Soulja Boy and he is being questioned about his


usage. I don’t know what I expected

the young man to say, as I watched the screen with a quizzical look on

my face

when he insinuated that he smokes weed to help keep him grounded/sane


it’s difficult being so young, successful and wealthy. To

be exact, his words were, “I got to

keep my mind right, or I’ll have a nervous breakdown.”

Well, besides the fact that Soulja Boy is still a


albeit a very influential one, whom many youth aspire to be like, that’s


what I’m addressing in this edito

rial, though I do think the issue of


substance abuse is very serious and need to be discussed and dealt with

accordingly. However, for this particular article, I’m interested in


when did getting high ever help keep the “mind right”? Now,

I know addicts and recovering

addicts who abused all different types of drugs, and of those that I


there’s not one who’d say that they were in a better mind state when

they were

high. Quite contrary they’d say, “I

stayed high because I could not deal with my reality.” And

that’s exactly what I deduced from

Soulja Boy words, even though his reality (from the outside looking in)


to be one that so many people would trade theirs for in a heartbeat. Admittedly, I

don’t know what the young

man is dealing with, I can only imagine:

people asking for handouts, newfound relatives who need initial

start up

money to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, pressures from record

labels and

executives, pressure from the public, expectations as a “role model” to


youth and he’s a child himself, hating homeboys, hating homegirls,

people he

never met hating on him and everything else you can imagine. Whatever the issues are, they must be so

serious that he’d rather get high and avoid them, than to address them. Or maybe he’d like to address them, but

he just doesn’t know how to. Either

way, when I viewed that very short video footage and heard his comments,

I felt

sad for him.


never purchased a Soulja Boy album, nor am I part of his targeted


buying audience, though I can relate to that song about him “hopping out

of bed

and turning his swagger on.” I do

that every morning. Did I just

publicly admit to liking a Soulja Boy song and that I “turn my swagger

on”? Nevertheless, I respect the young man

for putting himself on and I’d like to continue to see him grow and

develop as

an artist and a person, in the public eye.

But I know that his growth will be impeded and his success will


if he continues smoking weed to “keep his sanity.” There

are countless examples to support

what I’m saying; I wonder who his example is to show