Will Legalization Of Marijuana Affect Artists Like Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa and his “Under the Influence of Music Tour” kicks off July 24 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The 22-date trek ends Aug. 24 when Wiz Khalifa visits Irvine, California and the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.
Taylor Gang members should look for Wiz Khalifa in Toronto on July 29, Wiz Khalifa in Mansfield on Aug. 2, and Wiz Khalifa in Tinley Park on Aug. 5.
Khalifa is bringing along a bevy of talent including Jeezy, Ty Dolla $ign, Sage the Gemini, Rich Homie Quan, Mack Wilds, IAMSU, and DJ Drama.
The 26-year-old rapper will be supporting his fifth studio album, Blacc Hollywood. The opus will hit proverbial store shelves on Aug. 19. Blacc Hollywood contains contributions from Nicki Minaj, Curren$y, Ty Dolla Sign, and Chevy Woods.
"Let's Go Get Stoned"
If you have Wiz Khalifa tickets, of if you buy any one of his albums, you’re bound to realize that the Pittsburgh-based rapper has a huge penchant for marijuana.
On the cover of Blacc Hollywood, Khalifa’s face is covered by a cloud of smoke. Yes, that smoke could be from a cigarette but the connotation is it’s exhale from a marijuana joint.
If that doesn’t sell you on his affinity for “Mary Jane” then how about his 2011 album Rolling Papers, or starring in the stoner film Mac & Devin Go to High School, or calling remixes “Weedmixes,” or teaming with Raw Rolling Papers to have his own line of “smoking accessories,” or telling a reporter that he spends ten grand on “Grass” every month, or being arrested for marijuana possession.
“Pass The Dutchie Pon The Left Hand Side”
Wiz Khalifa is one of a long line of rappers/rockers who champion “The Herb.” In today’s political climate, however, one has to wonder what effect the increasing decriminalizing of marijuana will have on Wiz Khalifa and other proponents of “Cannabis?”
I’m not saying the legalization of “Hemp” will stop Khalifa or his fans from getting high. I’m asking will relaxed marijuana laws change the landscape of popular music?
Marijuana has had a long relationship with popular music especially elements that appeal to hormone-addled, restless, young people looking for a good time.
In the 1920s and early 1930s, when the youth of America was gorging on jazz, two of the genre’s biggest names, Louie Armstrong and Cab Calloway, recorded famous songs about the “Purple Sticky Punch.” There’s a reason why a “jazz cigarette” is a marijuana joint and not a cigarette with a bunch of random tobacco strung together. Remember, before rock took over in the 1950s, jazz was the preferred music for fidgety adolescences.
“Everybody Must Get Stoned”
In the 1960s and 1970s, “sticky icky” was the topic of popular songs by Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, Steppenwolf, Rick James, Peter Tosh, and Bob Marley. The Beatles told us that they get “high with a little help from” their friends. The Byrds sang about being “Eight Miles High” and in The Doors’ “Break On Through” Jim Morrison chants “she gets high.”
If you want to get some easy counter-culture credentials just throw the words “high” or “stoned” into your song.
There’s a reason why the saying is “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” and not “delightful conversation, soda pop, and rock & roll.” Rock, rap, heavy metal, punk, alternative, and even country (to some extent) all sell a lifestyle of living on the edge and social disobedience. Popular music is festoon with rebels, outlaws, gangsters, agitators, protestors, renegades, radicals, and revolutionaries.
“Let's Roll Another Joint”
That’s the fantasy being sold and it’s purchased, in large part, by middle class young people who are anything but rebels, outlaws, gangsters, agitators, protestors, renegades, radicals, and revolutionaries. Nonetheless, popular music allows consumers to fantasize about being bad without having to give up anything good (besides money).
Marijuana, probably more than any other substance, supports the rock & roll lifestyle and fantasy. It’s more “dangerous” than alcohol (at least socially) but not as dangerous as other drugs. Young people can smoke a joint and listen to Wiz Khalifa without having to worry about serious consequences. Marijuana is the perfect balance of counter-culture and safety.
Is marijuana’s rock and roll social status in jeopardy? Pot is now legal in Washington State and Colorado.
As a Washingtonian, I’ll admit that those two states are low on the totem pole. It would certainly be different if pot was legalized in California, Texas, or Florida. If marijuana was legalized in New York State it would be all we hear about on the news.
While Washington and Colorado aren’t major players on the national stage they are on the crest of a wave of marijuana legalization that seems to be washing over America. Washington D.C. recently made it legal to possess small amount of cannabis. Alaska and Oregon will vote on legalizing marijuana this November. The use of medical marijuana is legal in 23 states.
According to ArcView Group, by the end of 2014 the noncriminal marijuana industry is expected to grow to $2.6 billion. Last year, it was $1.5 billion.
“Let's Roll Another Joint”
In the Evergreen State, they are calling the new legal marijuana business “fledgling.” It’s being called that because demand is high and supply is low. Once the industry gets things figure out business will be smoking.
“Our staff estimates that there’ll be about $30,000 a year in sales tax revenue per business.” — Tim Leavitt, mayor of Vancouver, Washington.
Washington State won’t release any numbers until early August, but all indications point to the government reaping big money. That’s significant because when pro-marijuana advocates campaign in other states the first thing out of their bongs will be: “look how much money local governments can make off the stuff.” That reasoning will be very attractive to cash-strapped states hungry for new revenue sources. Why not make money off of a drug that mainly makes people lazy, stupid, and hungry?
“I Smoke Two Joints Before I Smoke Two Joints And Then I Smoke Two More"
If things keep going like they are, marijuana will be akin to the lottery. Can you imagine Colorado or Washington using Bob Dylan’s "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" in an ad campaign?
Okay, that probably won’t happen, but “Goofy Boots” is on its way to losing its rock and roll edge. The aura “The Cheech and Chong” has been cultivating for nearly one-hundred years is turning to ash.
I don’t think Wiz Khalifa has anything to worry about. Marijuana will still be primarily known as “The Chronic” and not as a revenue stream when Wiz Khalifa rolls into Dallas on Aug 14, when Wiz Khalifa performs in Mountain View on Aug. 22, and when Wiz Khalifa visits Chula Vista on Aug. 23.
I do think Khalifa is one of the last recording artists that will be closely associated with “Cheeba.” Marijuana will only get more socially and legally accepted. As it does, it will drop out of fashion with young people looking to shock, scare, and defy authority.
If that does indeed happen let’s hope “Reefer” isn’t replaced by something more harmful and dangerous.
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