There are artists whose reputations appear to be surrounded by a near constant haze of smoke from their musical odes to marijuana. (I’m looking in your direction, Cypress Hill.) But of all the songs about weed, few became as big of a mainstream hit as Afroman’s “Because I Got High.”
A decade ago, going within two miles of a college campus and not hearing the song from a passing car was impossible. Afroman’s 2001 cautionary musical tale about the pitfalls of toking up played out like a dark comedy with its protagonist slowly sliding into a life of despair thanks to the evil gateway drug that is marijuana. Sure, things aren’t going so bad at the start of the song (I was gonna clean my room until I got high / I was gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high / my room is still messed up and I know why) — a messy room isn’t the end of the world. But by the end of the tune the song’s character is left a crippled bum on the street with only his right hand for sexual comfort. Way to be a buzzkill, Afroman.
The humorous rap song would go on to garner Afroman a Grammy nomination in 2002, two years after its release on Afroman’s 2000 album of the same name. The song became one of the first songs that was made a hit not by radio (although it did have some help from Howard Stern), but by the internet — specifically Napster. Soon Afroman was being courted by Universal Records and New Jersey’s native stoner son, Kevin Smith, who directed the song’s music video.
Then the cloud of smoke dissipated, and Afroman was seemingly cast into the island of one-hit-wonders, sitting under a palm tree with Lou Bega and the guy who likes to drink pina coladas while getting caught in the rain. Just where has Afroman been for the last decade? Did he travel down the same dismal path carved out by his “Because I Got High” central character, or did he take that Universal Records cash and retire to a compound with an endless stream of weed, snack foods, and high-speed internet
It turns out Afroman — or Joseph Foreman, as he was known to his eighth grade teacher that had him expelled from school — has been incredibly busy the last 12 years, putting out eleven albums, working on screenplays, and getting sued for forgetting that he had a concert to perform… because he got high. In celebration of Afroman’s 40th birthday, let’s check out what he’s been up to besides getting high.
The Good Times and Afroholic — 2001 and 2004
After seeing the single’s success in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Taco Bell drive-thrus, Universal signed Afroman to a six-album deal almost immediately after “Because I Got High” broke and put out Afroman’s album The Good Times in October of 2001. No need for any new tracks, a few songs from Afroman’s previous indie records along with two different versions of “Because I Got High” and the single “Crazy Rap” provided enough boost to push it to certified gold record status.
Maybe it was some sort of weed-induced foreshadowing, but the “Crazy Rap” lyric If my tapes and my CDs just don’t sell, I bet my Caddy will predicted the destiny of Afroman’s recording relationship with Universal Records. Despite the success of his first album with the label, it would also be his last, and Afroman released the double album Afroholic… The Even Better Times in 2004. Dropping down from a six-album deal with Universal Records to self-releasing your albums on Hungry Hustler Records probably isn’t in the gameplan for most Grammy-nominated musical acts, but like its self-assuring title say, “even better times” were ahead. Unfortunately those better times didn’t include any singles on par with his breakout success, despite the double album having track titles like “F*ck Tha Corporate World.” Not as radio-friendly as the breakup songs of Taylor Swift.
Afroman was prolifically in the zone in 2004. The guy took the Hungry Hustler name to heart and released three more albums that year, including two on the same day and the holiday album Jobe Bells. What sort of holiday music does a guy with the name Afroman and album titles like Waiting to Inhale and Sell Your Dope make? Why, classic holiday songs like “O’ Chronic Tree,” of course. Afroman would later release his second album of holiday music in 2006 with A Colt 45 Christmas.
Waiting to Inhale — 2007
Waiting to Inhale was Afroman’s eighth studio album and aimed at being a loosely based concept album parodying the movie Waiting to Exhale. He had also planned to do a movie with the same title. “I am supplying the key ingredients” for the movie, he told the AP. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see what that movie might look like, but I’m betting the scene with “In Your Pu**y” playing in the background electrifies the screen.
Sued on 4-20 — 2011
Afroman regularly tours, and in April 2011 he was scheduled to do a show in Columbus, Ohio at The Patio music club. That’s when irony struck.
Afroman has a meticulous routine that he MUST adhere to in order to get in the mindset to perform an Afroman show. Via The Bulletin:
“I like to get to town early and get into the mood of hip-hop and what it means to me. I don’t want to shortchange my fans so I smoke blunts and play music while I pull out my best clothes. I go to the barber shop. I do my nails.”
Afroman got a little too into the mood, and completely forgot that he had a show to do. I can only assume that the owners of The Patio have a sense of humor, because they waited until 4/20 to serve him with lawsuit papers. Via L.A. Times:
“I understand the significance of the date. I went to college, but I’m not part of that culture,” said Matt Crumpton, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. “We were going to file it Monday, it was just a matter of do we file it Monday or Tuesday? But we thought, if we were going to file it in the next few days, we might as well do it on the 20th.”
The good people of Columbus are a forgiving bunch, however. Afroman is currently scheduled to appear there in August for the Fashion Meets Music Festival. Hopefully this time he doesn’t fall asleep before the show with his hand in a bag of potato chips. And at least he can now return with the perfect anecdote for an on-stage interlude.
“Hey, guys. Remember that time you bought tickets and I never showed up?” *Takes bong hit* “…Because I got high.” *Everyone laughs and breaks into a sing-along*