The weed anthem never really abandoned us. Before Kush and Orange Juice, rap and marijuana went together like chronic and pineapple orange juice. But for the latter half of the 2000s, its importance was secondary to songs about what the Clipse claimed they weren’t part of: the cocaine rap genre. No one was fooled. The Thornton brothers, Jeezy, and Rawse were regnant kings of stuffing the stove-top– a topic tirelessly rhapsodized by a bunch of former Roots fans whose only experience with “the trap” involved Lindsay Lohan. Though be fair, judging from her later narcotic tribulations, this was ample preparation.
Whether the result of lax marijuana laws, Eric Holder’s laissez-faire approach to enforcement, or cyclical trends, 2010 is a different era. Ross has shifted from hustling everyday, to wish fulfillment fantasies of riding yachts surround by naked supermodels, personal blunt holders, and the occasional unicorn. Even Fat Joe, who was singing odes to “that white girl” just two years ago, has decided to court his fanbase from the Represent era. Granted, he has a song on his new album called “Kilo,” but Don Cartagena has never been one to look towards for ideological consistency.
Ideological consistency is one of the strengths of the Dame Dash’s Creative Control Crew (Smoke DZA, Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T.). They’re constantly on-message, which suggests why DZA chose George Bush clips for interstitial flair on his George Kush Da Button mixtape. And like Bush, the message isn’t very complex or original. Like a Cypress Hill for the boutique rap-era, they smoke acres of weed of all flavors and colors. Headband. Bubba Kush. Sour Diesel. They just want to get high. And maybe buy a couple pairs of shoes. Whatever.
But unlike Bush, they’re incredibly effective at what they do. None of them are technically great rappers, but they’re are all amply gifted at picking out (or making) great beats and knowing how to complement them. It also helps that Ski Beatz handles most of the production on Curren$y and DZA’s new records. Particularly at a time when the former Jay-Z producer is in the midst of one of the better second-life resuscitations in hip-hop production history (he and No Id went from Veteran’s Committee to 1st Ballot Voting). You can draw a straight line from his Uptown Saturday Night work to what he’s doing now. Tasteful horns, beats that vaporize rather than burn, a slick sparkling funk. Ideal stoner music.
DZA claims he would’ve been signed to Rawkus in 98, but that might be wishful thinking. After all, his goofball humor and decision to use skits ranging from George Bush blathering to Mel Gibson’s rants, peg him closer to clown prince than self-righteous rebel. Though neither of these guys have written anything as resonant as Devin the Dude circa “Doobie Ashtray,” they seem to be using that as their model. Laid back but not lazy flows, a low-lidded swagger, and rhymes that can’t get reefer off their mind. It’s music for hot summer days, a Doritos haze, and a mind that runs alternately clear and cloudy.
Like DZA says, some people make music for demographics, he makes music for the people like him. If at any point in your life, you’ve named your bong, that probably means you. Meth and Red are getting long in the molars, and rap could always use a new Cheech & Chong. Someone severely fucked up by not booking these guys at the Smokeout. –Weiss