Music News

Reflecting on the reefer madness of the dueling Dispensary Music projects

"C" is for controversy -- you know, the thing that media types presumably thrive on, the lifeblood of sites like Radar Online and TMZ. But not all media outlets set out to create controversy. Some just stumble into it.

Case in point: Last month, we learned that two groups of artists happened to be working on projects with the exact same name. DJ Quote and Iman S had posted a video on YouTube touting their upcoming mixtape, Dispensary Music -- but Whygee and FOE had been working tirelessly on an identically named project.

Ruh-roh. Cue controversy.

While we hadn't heard about DJ Quote and Iman S's Dispensary Music project before, we'd known about Whygee and FOE's -- in fact, we'd posted a video clip featuring the pair in the studio a few weeks earlier. And once we learned of the two projects with the same name, we sensed an impending conflict. And we have to admit, the idea of a good beef was slightly intriguing.

A healthy rivalry seemed like just the spark that the local hip-hop scene needed: Right now, this town is brimming with so much talent and creativity it's ridiculous, but hardly anyone seems to be paying attention. Not to mention, this rivalry was shaping up to be the biggest and most compelling saga we'd seen since the legendary Apostle vs Kingdom battle of 2004. This was a potential clash of some serious titans (all of these dudes have earned Best of Denver nods)

A few days after news broke that a competing Dispensary Music project was rumored to be dropping the following week, FOE and Whygee quickly finished up work on the first part of their vision, which ended up being an eight-song EP. We invited them to send us the tracks for an exclusive advance listen, followed by a free download.

In the interim, the more vocal members of the hip-hop community were weighing in on Twitter, claiming that there was only one true Dispensary Music and that any other versions would pale in comparison. Some even went so far as to send scornful messages directly to Quote, prompting him and Iman to film a response, which, naturally, we posted our blog.

Grab some popcorn and pull up a ringside seat to the action, we thought, energized by the notion that the conflict might actually cause folks to pay attention to and talk about the local scene instead of, say, pondering how much time Lil Wayne had left in the clink, examining Drake's seemingly inexplicable appeal or discussing whatever other national hip-hop stories were grabbing headlines at the time.

But then something unexpected happened. In no uncertain terms, Whygee called us out, appealing directly to our sense of humanity. "Dear Westword," he Tweeted, "yall are provoking violence in hip hip if this shit ever escalates."

What?! All of a sudden we felt like some two-bit wannabe Don King or something. God forbid this beef extend beyond the music, especially over a freaking title, for chrissakes! And so, because all the people involved are people we respect and admire, we gave our word that we wouldn't add another word to the back-and-forth over the name conflict.

And that's a promise we intend to keep. While there's clearly no shortage of opinions on who came up with the title first, the simple fact is that there are at least two projects bearing the Dispensary Music handle (and perhaps even a third from someone else suggesting they may have actually coined the title). The more we've looked into this whole thing, the more we've seen that "C" also stands for coincidence here.

Both parties, it turns out, have been working on their respective projects for at least a year. Although the video Lenny Lenn shot of Whygee and FOE in the studio was posted in June, there's another clip from last summer on Box State Music that shows the two talking about working together, while Quote also reportedly has footage he and Iman shot last summer.

Dueling titles aside, these projects couldn't seem more different in scope. The only things they appear to share are a name and the fact that they're rapping about a dispensary's flagship product. Beyond that, as you'll see from our Q&A with DJ Quote about his project, the two actually have very little in common.

What's more, when you think about it, it's really not all that surprising that more than one person might think of mating the words "Music" and "Dispensary," particularly in a town that has such outlets on every corner. (Have you driven down South Broadway recently?) Hell, we even unwittingly invoked the metaphor in the Best of Denver nod for FOE and DJ Awhat's Format mixtape.

While we're now going to leave the herding of beef to the cattlemen, we'll continue to keep you updated on both projects, and the only thing that really matters, the music. As we post this, Whygee and FOE are hard at work on the next installment of their Dispensary Music project, while Quote and Iman S are likewise continuing work on theirs. Obviously, we're eager to hear/see both.

In the meantime, with all this reefer madness, now seems like as good a time as any to hit up one of the countless dispensaries in this town and up spark some up that Mile High hippie lettuce and chill.

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera