When I was first asked if I wanted to cover a Weedmaps event at which Afroman was the featured guest, thirteen-year-old Taylor died a little bit on the inside. I was taken back to the good old days of middle school, and recalled the first time I ever smoked weed, with Afroman as the soundtrack. And now I was going to meet him, the man who provided an entire generation with music to listen to while getting high.
It was a private event, so the location was kept secret. The first address I was given turned out to be an art gallery, where I was greeted by thirty middle-aged art folk having some kind of meeting. When I asked if this was the Afroman show, everyone was eager to tell me some cliche joke about marijuana. One guy showed me a picture of him in blackface with an Afro and said I could just interview him instead. Not an auspicious start.
After a few phone calls, I got the right address: Knew Conscious gallery, a few blocks away, which was hosting the stoniest party I've ever attended.
Knew Conscious focuses on displaying contemporary art made with spirituality and greater consciousness in mind. The art displayed last week fit the bill, with plenty of colors and sacred geometry to give you a high before even lighting up one of the many complimentary joints being passed around by Native Roots. The gallery was packed with about a hundred people who'd won tickets to the event from Weedmaps. This was the first of four musical events the company is hosting, with the stated goal of improving creativity among the stoned.
After several minutes of milling around, chatting and enjoying an open bar, I was finally taken upstairs to meet Afroman. Meeting celebrities can be a little disappointing once you realize they're not always who they make themselves appear to be. But Afroman is a grand exception. Clad in a ganja-green Adidas track suit, sandals and more pieces of gold jewelry than I could count, Afroman welcomed me warmly, all while drinking his staple beverage, Colt 45.
In honor of society's changing attitude toward pot, Afroman recently remade the seminal song "Because I Got High" in a more positive light. "I wanted to do this song over and put out the positive side of marijuana, how it can help society," he says. "I also wanted to get with NORML [National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws], the people who help get it legalized all over the country, possibly the world. I wanted to join the movement: 'Here's my song, here's my alliance. What can I do to help?'
There is so, so much more on the next page. "I was having fun, but I think a lot of people took it the wrong way. Don't get it twisted, weed is great. What I was trying to do [before] was write a song everybody liked that would get me in the music industry. Back then it was tenser. The cops were out asking why I was talking about weed. It's not good to make a movie and let the bad guy win. They had to let Scarface get smoked in the end so little kids don't think that's cool. I wanted to sing it without the cops harassing me, so I had to kick and punch myself a little bit so I could sing the song and make my money."
I asked the self-proclaimed Michael Jordan of Marijuana about his first experience getting stoned. "We're always cool, we're hustling, hanging out at the spot. One day, my friend got some money. I try not to have friends that can beat me up, 'cause at any given moment they'll just beat you up. They'll just kick your fucking ass! He's one of those dudes. Other cats don't mess with you because he's your homeboy. So I look down at my watch and go over there, and he has this Datsun in the back yard and there's no tires on it; it's sitting on bricks. There's a couple of other cats kicking it.
"We've got the music, and he tells everyone to get in the car. He broke out a blunt and I'm thinking, 'What the fuck is this? I ain't trippin'.'' Sparked one up. Then took out another. Sparked it up. We're laughing, he's coming out with more. He lit like four blunts in all. Every time I pass one, here comes another one. All the windows are rolled up, and now it's starting to get really serious. My eyes are watering, the back of my throat is burning. I'm trying to be cool, but fuck this shit, man! He'd say, 'Don't nobody open my doors, cuz. Don't roll my windows down. Don't waste my weed!' We peeled out of the damn car as fast as we could."
Legalized weed has no doubt affected the underground marijuana community, and Afroman is optimistic about its effects. "Legalizing weed takes a tool away from a handful of police officers to pick on you for whatever reason. Legalizing weed puts you in safer consumer positions than illegal weed. Before, you're dealing with the guys the cops are scared to go see; you're just a civilian trying to get high. Legalizing helps out. The states get a tax, too, so there's new revenue for anything positive. Legalization is comfortable for the consumer."
Our conversation touched on other subjects, like booze ("What people don't know about Colt 45 is they have to go to the worst neighborhood to get it. It's cheap beer, but you could lose your life going to get it, and that's what makes it expensive") and candy (if he had to be a chronic candy, he'd be Snickers, followed by Payday.)
Next to "Because I Got High," "Crazy Rap" is probably Afroman's most popular song. Always curious as to the truth behind some of the lyrics, I asked him if Dolly Parton's titties are really filled with Hennessey, as he claims in the song.
"I lie. That's the first thing I'll admit. About 83% of it is true. I never met Dolly Parton. Might as well have slept with the daughter of the leader of the Klu Klux Klan, though. Her dad was an L.A. County sheriff; he wasn't the leader. I don't know, though -- I was just trying to get the hell out of there. I'll e-mail him later tonight and find out."
After chatting with Afroman for a good while, it was time for him to perform for a surprised and ecstatic crowd. He only sang his two major jams, but nobody in the room was disappointed. Afroman is everything you ever thought he was, only better and nicer. I thoroughly enjoyed my night with him and look forward to his return later this month. If you get a chance, go see him, and buy him a Colt 45 and a joint.
• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS •
- 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet
- Photos: Musicians Buying (Legal) Weed in Denver
- The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock
- 50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.