The hip-hop culture is unapologetic about the use of cannabis. Back in the day, when society was more hush-hush towards their cannabis use, there were certain musicians who had no problem being out in the open about their use, regardless of where the law stood. Let’s take it back to 1992, where Dr. Dre released a whole album named after a euphemism for the plant, The Chronic, which had six million-plus sales in the United States. The project was laden with cannabis references as well. Clearly a decent amount of American citizens co-signed too. The plant is nothing new in the industry; as a matter of fact, it’s only growing. As the legalization of the cannabis industry is spreading, hip-hop culture and cannabis are intertwining in more ways than we can count, and not just on an underground level.
There have been a multitude of albums, songs and even movies dedicated to cannabis. How High, a cannabis culture movie classi, stars East Coast rappers Method Man and Redman. Both of these rappers’ discographies are filled with references to their beloved cannabis. Rapper Cam’Ron has an album named Purple Haze, after the cannabis strain. Rapper Smoke DZA, co-founded the Smoker’s Club, a site where pot smokers can celebrate their favorite pastime. In 2016, Genius analyzed drug references in rap and research showed that by the mid-1990s, the percentage of rap songs with drug references increased from just four tracks in the early 1980s to 45 percent of all hip-hop tracks.
Rappers like Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have based their whole brands off being cannabis consumers. What is it about this plant that works so well with hip-hop? In an interview in 2011, Wiz Khalifa was quoted saying, “It’s not just a musical thing, not just a creative thing. I just like to be in that zone. And it helps me just do everything. Pot just plays a huge role in the everyday mechanics of my life. It totally keeps me grounded.” This isn’t just in hip-hop either; many musicians have been vocal about their use of cannabis in their everyday lives. However, if you follow any hip-hop artists on social media, you’ll most likely see a lot of foreign cars, designer labels, and of course, cannabis. Curren$y, a rapper known for being laid-back and cool in both style and sound, is always pushing the movement posting content with a joint, or as he calls it a “jernt,” in his hands. Cannabis has been integrated into not just the music, but the lifestyle.
“It’s not just a musical thing, not just a creative thing. I just like to be in that zone. And it helps me just do everything. Pot just plays a huge role in the everyday mechanics of my life. It totally keeps me grounded.”
On top of the music and lifestyle, certain rappers have incorporated cannabis into their business portfolios as well. Cypress Hill, an L.A. based hip-hop trio, basically bridged the gap between cannabis, hip-hop, and the mainstream music platform. B-Real, one of the founding members of Cypress Hill told Cuepoint, “Previous to us talking about it so openly, it was a taboo subject. Mostly in hip-hop, because in reggae they had been talking about legalizing for a number of years, but it was accepted in that genre.” B-Real has made his way into the business side of cannabis and he is blazing his way through it, no pun intended. B-Real turned one of Cypress Hill’s songs, Dr. Greenthumb, into a reality. B-Real has built a franchise model opening three California-based dispensary locations in Sylmar, Downtown LA, and Sacramento, all under the name Dr. Greenthumbs. He is seeing quite a bit of success too. Another rapper turned cannabis entrepreneur, Berner, has built an empire with his brand “Cookies.” Cookies started off as a strain, and then he decided to build a brand around it. With four dispensary locations and his lifestyle clothing line sold in Zumiez, you could call that a million dollar cookie.
We continue to see hip-hop artists paying homage to the plant that inspires them. As we progress towards legalization, people are advocating and not only through music. Cannabis, the plant that keeps on giving, and music, something that soothes the soul, are truly a match made in heaven. The love cannabis and hip-hop share for each other has always been there, it’s just becoming mainstream enough, and finally accepted.