The other 'green' of hip-hop

    “”I’m high all the time”” is a lyric off of 50 Cent’s multiplatinum debut, Get Rich or Die Trying. This statement is true for almost every rapper in the world. If there was a rule book for how to be a rapper, having excess supplies of marijuana at your disposal would be as important as having as many diamonds on your body as possible. Why is it that weed is such an important thing to talk about when you are in hip-hop, but not in other genres of music?

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    Hip-hop music talks about what rappers would go through in their everyday life in their neighborhood growing up. Since marijuana is widely used in such areas, it makes sense that marijuana plays a big part in the rapper’s lifestyle, and that will be what they talk about in their songs. Once rappers make it to the big time, marijuana is something that brings them back to the lifestyle that they remember, so it is used as an escape from the corporate world that they have become a part of. Some rappers, like the late Notorious B.I.G., prefer to be high when they are recording an album because they feel that they are opening up their mind to different ideas and emotions.

    Marijuana also serves the purpose of portraying a rapper as above the law. The image of rappers going against the law allows them to maintain their street “”cred,”” while being able to avoid the harder drugs like cocaine that many have gone on record as staying away from.

    Recently, a hip-hop dictionary was published, and in response, many Web sites came out with their own renditions of certain marijuana terms. For example, http://www.laughpit.com/dictionary2, has definitions for common slang used in hip-hop. Blunt, boom, chronic, ism, lifted, sess and skunk are all terms that they define having a relationship to marijuana. These words have crossed over into the mainstream vocabulary of marijuana, but all have definitive roots in hip-hop.

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    Marijuana references also come through different associations of rappers. Dr. Dre’s classic solo debut album was titled The Chronic; one of the best battle rappers out now is Canibus. Song titles also give the same idea, as seen from Afroman’s “”Because I Got High,”” or the Styles P. track “”Good Times (I Get High).””

    One rapper who can be credited with making marijuana such a prominent role in hip-hop’s society would be Snoop Dogg. He was blatant about his use of weed when he became mainstream, and his usage probably increased over the years while his fame grew. Rappers who may have used weed before, but weren’t as public about it, came out in the masses from that point on.

    Ironically, Snoop, the very rapper who was so blatant about his usage, has recently come out saying he’s drug-free. He now wants to get high off of life and see what the world is like when he doesn’t have weed in his system. He also wanted to show his sons and the youth of America that it’s cool to say no to drugs, so he decided it was best to quit. However, anyone who saw Snoop co-host on “”Jimmy Kimmel Live”” may disagree if he is still drug-free.

    In Los Angeles, for the past five years, Cypress Hill has held their annual “”Smoke Out.”” This past year’s event was held at the famed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The all-day event is put on to promote the legalization of marijuana and brings out both rap and rock groups to perform for those in attendance. This year’s event, held in early December, reportedly had a crowd of about 20,000 people.

    While it is true that other musicians aren’t necessarily innocent of using marijuana, rappers are associated with weed more because they are more blatant than others in their consumption. Rappers don’t want to lose their image as legitimate, and it has come to the point where you are almost disregarded for your skills if you don’t at least say you are smoking marijuana, so the choice has become clear.

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