One of the most anticipated albums in local hip-hop circles this fall is Dispensary Music, the long-awaited full-length collaboration between Whygee and Foe, slated to drop tomorrow on iTunes.The collaboration between these two rappers was inspired by sporadic features on various songs in the past and the undeniable chemistry they realized they shared.
On their new album, the two take listeners on a guided trip down a rabbit hole into the vestiges of drug lore, with Whygee's subdued delivery fusing and FOE's controlled insanity leading the way through a wanton celebration of usage, as well as a critical look at the governmental influence on supply and demand.
In advance of their release, we caught up with the pair for a chat about drugs, power and ancient civilization. Read the full interview and listen to the first single after the jump.
Westword (Ru Johnson): The collaboration between Foe and Whygee has been a long time coming. Why is now the time for the fusion of your subcategories of hip-hop to come together?
FOE: I think we have always wanted to work together. One day, we were just chilling, smoking a blunt, and one of us said, "We should do an album together!" and there it was. We started recording -- we recorded like twelve songs and my hard drive crashed, so we lost the whole album. I called Whygee and told him what happened. That day we went back into the studio and started recording Dispensary Music.
Whygee: I knew I'd have to make music with Foe when we went head to head for that Westword award. Foe won. What else could I do but make some joints with the dude? After recording all this music with Foe, I believe he is just as much a conscious MC or backpack MC as I'm labeled as. Side note: We recorded a few songs together before Dispensary Music; and Foe and 800 the Jewell were playing me songs for what is now King Foe's The Format. The shit was blowing my mind.
Ww: Many have said Dispensary Music finds you both in top form. Is this your best work so far?
Wg: My new shit is always my best work, in my opinion. But this album is a different me. I'd say this is the most "Colorado" piece of work that I've done so far. Working with Foe and bringing in more local producers did something beautiful for my verses and hooks. I feel like it made me try some new styles and learn some new techniques and what have you.
F: Every time I do something, I think it's my best work!! [laughs] Seriously, it's a dope album all the way through!
Ww: The first single, "Raw Gurd" (produced by Graffiti Black), references the war on drugs, pointing to government systems as a catalyst for the epidemic. Where is the root in the condemnation of drug usage?
F: Honestly, my whole life has been a war on drugs. I've dealt with family members addicted to all different drugs -- [from] pawning things in order to find that next high, thinking that they need the drug to move on with the day, to having to be out in the streets trying to chase your next dollar in order to feed your babies, because no one else would hire you, or the job you do find isn't even enough pay for your gas to get to work! It's been a war in my family -- some would call it a civil war -- that may never end.
Wg: I have no idea where [it comes from], but I'm pretty convinced that every civilization ever has some type of chemically altering substance they party on or meditate on or pray with. I feel like those who wrote the laws -- or play a part in what goes on in the world -- found out a way to capitalize on the shit while neutralizing certain minorities or types of people. Most of those hypocrites who campaign and condemn drugs go home and chew a bunch of meds to deal with the stress of it.
Ww: We are so far gone from the days of "Just Say No" and the your-brain-on-drugs commercials. When did the tides change in such a way that dispensaries are easier to find than coffee shops in Denver?
F: Well, in our society, I think reefer has never been looked at as a drug, per se, but [as] more of an aid to get through the day and deal with aches and pains. It became more acceptable, in my opinion, when the government found out they could make money both ways, taxing the "legal" dealers and arresting the "illegal" ones.
Ww: In what ways did recording this album force you to look at your marijuana usage? Have your smoking habits changed at all?
Wg: I smoke a lot, and I'm pretty sure Foe smokes more than me -- if that's even possible. I'd be lying if I didn't say I thought about taking a little break after the record was done, as I sit here and hit a bowl [laughs]. [Other than that,] no major changes, really, except for the new comrade [I've gained] to match blunts, rap and crack jokes with.
F: If anything, it helped me to gauge why it was I was using at particular moment in my life -- whether it was stress, a bad day at work, relaxing, dealing with problems, or just a way to get away from the normal hectic life. No, my habit is still the same: I smoke like a chimney.
Ww: Dispensary Music covers so many themes based in herb consumption, from drug laws to the love affair with the green. When did weed become so versatile?
Foe: It's always been versatile, it just took us to show you how versatile it really was.
Wg: The same can be done with any subject, if you're willing to think a little bit and be creative enough. The album is versatile and remains on subject because two dope writers -- and friends -- wrote it. I think at the end of it all, we had more chemistry than both of [us] ever thought in the first place, on some Red and Meth or Curren$y and Wiz type shit.
Ww: From herb to reefer to pot and weed, marijuana is known by many names. What is your favorite way to address the ganja?
F: With a fire of some sorts.
Wg: Bud, free bud is even better. "Green" is a word I use a lot. I don't know. It depends on who you're taking to.
Ww: How has the availability of herb in Denver changed the smokers culture?
Wg: I [have] been smoking damn near every day since I was like fifteen or sixteen. I'm sure it changed for some other folks, though.
F: Now people think they can't smoke swag -- that may be the biggest change in the culture. Now we have people who would never, any other day, purchase high-quality reefer, smoking it every day, because the prices have dropped so dramatically...supply and demand!
Ww: In many cities, the police will throw you in jail for holding marijuana. What do you say to opponents of the movement to legalize marijuana?
F: I say: Let's just look at the history of reefer and how it has helped with the usage of hemp products such as paper, shoes, clothes and so on. And recently, the taxes that have been added to it have helped with the state debt and have given money to help rebuild the community.
Wg: I know you like getting that "under that table gwop," but legalize it. You'll still have your alcohol, tobacco and firearm money coming to you.
As they were putting together Dispensary Music, which is being released tomorrow on iTunes, Whygee and Foe recorded over thirty tracks; they were tasked with narrowing those down to fifteen, which made the final cut, including "Raw Gurd,"which features Brik A Brak.
The joints that didn't make the album are slated to be released at a later date as The Doobie Tracks, a compilation of sorts of smoke-downs designed to get you high. Whygee and Foe have kept a tight wrap on which cuts they selected, opting to keep everyone in suspense until now. See the final tracklist below.
King FOE and Whygee Dispensary Music
01. "Listen" - Produced by Mr. Bostic 02. "Rick James" - Produced by GeedUp 03. "Calling" - Produced by Qknox 04. "Ta the Tilt" featuring Brik A Brak - Produced by Aires Jackson 05. "Survive" - featuring St. Nick - Produced by Big J Beats 06. "Raw Gurd" featuring Brik A Brak - Produced by Graffiti 07. "Not Allowed" - Produced by Qknox 08. "Easy" - featuring Haven - Produced by Davey Boy for Super Dope Music 09. "Ceremonial Headgear" - Produced by Dyalekt 10. "Light It Up" featuring Rhias (Air Dubai) & Paisha - Produced by TC Crook 11. "Outside of My Mind" - featuring Karma - Produced by Xperiment 12. "What Happened" - featuring Tuxx - Produced by Selko 13. "Finding" featuring Freddie Savage - Produced by Qknox 14. "Paranoid" - Produced by 800 the Jewell 15. "The Program" featuring charleyBrand - Produced by EsNine
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.