How Hip-Hop Has Influenced Canna Culture
By the mid to late 1980s, cannabis was starting to be seen as an older drug for hippies and beatniks and in serious need of a revamp and rebrand. Cocaine had taken over the American and European drug scenes at the time and ganja was now old news. Fortunately for the stoners amongst us, 1990s hip-hop was just around the corner and they were about to take canna culture cool to heights never seen before.
When the likes of Cypress Hill, Redman, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg started to talk about cannabis in their songs and even named their albums using weed references, it coincided with a new type of cannabis that was known as hydro, or hydroponic and it was stronger than the stuff your hippie parents smoked in the 60s and 70s. Californian OG-style weed was making a name for itself at exactly the same time that rap music was changing and evolving, and they both helped each other to hit the mainstream amidst a cloud of smoke with red eyes and a new way of thinking.
“My medicine is the ganja” – Nas (The World is Yours – Illmatic 1994)
Stoned is the Way of the Walk
Is Cypress Hill the pioneer of a new wave of rap music that now embraced and glorified the idea of marijuana smoking? Most definitely!
When their debut studio album, the self-titled ‘Cypress Hill’, dropped in 1991, they were one of the first rap groups to reference weed in their lyrics. The unforgettable “Stoned is the Way of the Walk” was one of the first weed raps ever.
Hip-hop in 1980s New York had all been about partying and having a good time, and very seldom did they mention weed even though they were smoking it. So when Cypress Hill invented a new rap music sound known as “blunted hip-hop”, it pretty much opened up the floodgates for everyone.
Their second album, Black Sunday, was a massive commercial success and really put them on the map. The album included several famous cannabis tracks such as “Hits from the Bong”, “Insane in the Membrane” and “I Wanna Get High” taking this newly formed stoner rap to the highest levels and it took years before it came down. Cypress Hill probably had more influence on canna culture than any other music group ever, regardless of rap music.
“Tell Bill Clinton to go and inhale” – Cypress Hill (I Wanna Get High – Black Sunday 1993)
Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and West Coast Chronic Vibes
When Dr. Dre released his monumental debut album, The Chronic in 1992, it was basically an ode to cool California vibes, partying, Crip and Bloods gangbanging stories, and cannabis consumption. “The Chronic” is a term for potent and high-quality hydroponic sticky icky weed. And boy California was the epicenter of that movement in the late 80s and early 90s and still is today, Canada aside.
Snoop hilariously described how the term “Chronic ‘ was accidentally coined by him and his homies one stoned evening in Long Beach:
“We wrongly thought this type of weed was called hydrochronic. It was really hydroponic and we f****d around and misinterpreted and we said it the wrong way. They don’t know the origins of how f****d up I was when I said it.”
We can never underestimate how important Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg is for canna culture, and the entire Death Row posse and West Coast rap music scene were to promoting weed smoking and cannabis culture to the masses, especially suburban white kids who were getting into gangster rap and G-funk at the time.
“Smoke weed every day” – Dr. Dre, Snoop and Nate Dogg (Next Episode – Chronic 2001)
How High? Very High!
While West Coast rappers were smoking their chronic and cruising South Central in their Lowriders to laidback vibes, East Coast rap music out of New York was also doing their bit for promoting weed smoking. The boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens were dark and depressing places to live at the time, so smoking weed was a way to escape the madness. Two of the biggest exponents of the canna culture on the East Coast in the early 1990s were the dynamic duo Redman and Method Man. They became the modem day versions of Cheech and Chong for rap-music-loving X-Gens all over God’s green earth.
When Redman released his aptly named track “How To Roll A Blunt” from his debut studio LP, Whut… Thee Album in 1991, I didn’t even know what a blunt was. That’s how instrumental Redman was at the time for rap stoners such as myself. He introduced me to Phillies Blunts and the idea that you can break open a cigar and replace the tobacco with weed and to roll that shit back up.
And when Redman hooked up with his weed brother from another mother, Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan fame, it all went higher than ever before. How high? Pretty effing high! Together, they collaborated on a track called “How High?”, and this concept was even made into a weed movie of the same name that you absolutely have to watch. Nobody has done more to promote cannabis culture via rap music in a positive way than these two lovable rogues.
Weed and Rap is a Marriage Made in Heaven
For sure, over the years, more rappers than I can swing a cat at have made tracks about weed and used ganja references in their lyrics and for their album and song titles. But without the aforementioned pioneers of canna culture in hip-hop, it might not have followed this path. You wouldn’t have gotten Wiz Khalifa if it wasn’t for Snoop Dogg and so on.
When a new style of hydroponic weed started to become popular, hip-hop culture jumped on its back and galloped it full speed towards mainstream consciousness and popular culture.
Would weed have been decriminalized in California in the following years without these rappers normalizing it and taking it to the mainstream in the early 1990s? Who knows, but they were very influential in regard to the evolving nature of the canna culture you see today.
Do you wanna get your swerve on this weed in Bangkok? Come and see us down at Lucky Luke’s Tiki Joint in Bangkok to find the stickiest ickiest Chronic known to man… or woman… or trans… you get the picture!