How hip-hop helped destroy the stigma around cannabis

Shane Fame Alexander
How hip-hop helped destroy the stigma around cannabis

Hits From the Bong

 Hip Hop may have its origins in New York City, but it wouldn't take long for the genre to spread throughout the nation and eventually the entire world. Hip Hop had successfully made it to the West Coast by the 1980s, fulfilling its manifest destiny and leaving a trail of musicians and styles in its wake. 

Hip Hop, despite its growth, remained a genre that was created primarily by people from underrepresented groups for underrepresented groups. Emcees spoke about  issues like intergenerational poverty and police brutality.These themes were emphasised by West Coast rappers like Ice T, a forefather in West Coast  Hip Hop. 


Ain’t nuthin' but a weed thing

We start to see explicit references to drugs in Hip Hop during the Gangsta Rap Era. However, cocaine was the drug of choice in the 1980s, while marijuana was almost a relic of the hippie movement. Gangsta rappers wrote more rhymes about dealing crack and the lifestyle of a drug dealer than they did about using drugs themselves. 

Then came the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. The first solo album as a member of the former N.W.A. The 1992 album was full of allusions to marijuana, and even the cover was a nod to Zig-Zag's famous Le Zouave. Additionally, Snoop Dogg, the biggest marijuana enthusiast in Hip Hop, made several appearances on the album.

Doggystyle, the rapper's debut album, was created by Dr. Dre's own label, Death Row Records, and featured numerous pro-cannabis lyrics sung by Snoop Dogg in his trademark smooth voice. Doggystyle was released in 1993, the same year that fellow Californians and marijuana supporters Cypress Hill released their highly acclaimed album Black Sunday, which featured songs about marijuana like "Hits from the Bong" and the album's title track "I Wanna Get High." 

Hip Hop completely accepts cannabis

Although Gangsta Rap had more commercial success than earlier versions of the genre, it still hadn't entered the mainstream of music. However, by the middle of the 1990s, rappers like Puff Daddy and Lil Wayne had introduced Hip Hop to a wider audience through the use of R&B hooks and higher production quality. 

Obsessive one-upping took the place of a lot of the politics and social commentary that had previously influenced the genre. The subjects of the hip-hop songs that were played on commercial radio the most frequently were people's SUVs and the price of their chains.

Cannabis served as a status symbol..In Pharcyde’s “Pack the Pipe”, Bootie Brown boasts, “… the only itch I have is for the indo or sess So don't pass me that mess or try to even protest That it's adding to the flavour 'cause the old one was fine” Won't you pack the pipe and keep it moving down the line?” We can also look at the trackWeed Song’  from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. "If everybody smoked a blunt, relieves the mind, the world could be a better place/if everybody took a break and we all just got wasted”," rapped the Ohio possie. 

Cannabis and contemporary Hip-Hop

Modern Hip Hop has somewhat reined in the excesses of the bling era, but cannabis culture has persisted. The lyrics of songs by contemporary trap musicians like Chief Keef frequently make reference to his love of marijuana. It's likely that marijuana references in Hip Hop will last forever as long as traditional society continues to view Mary Jane as less taboo. 

In the past, a lot of marijuana-loving rappers invested their earnings from the hip-hop industry in legitimate cannabis businesses. Jay-Z sells high-end artisanal cannabis to ballers with money to burn, while The Game cultivates marijuana for Trees By The Game, a California-based cultivation company. Snoop Dogg has a line of eight cannabis cultivars called Leafs By Snoop.

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