Grammy-nominated producer Drew Drucker has worked with some of the biggest names in 'stoner rap' - from Snoop Dogg to Wiz Khalifa. Here's what he has to say about the origins, influence and future of rap's cannabis sub-genre and his picks for the top marijuana role models in the history of hip hop.
How do you define stoner rap? Is it just rap about marijuana or does it go beyond that?
It goes beyond that. I'd say the first artists who christened it would be Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg. They were the first to really live a lifestyle based around cannabis. Their songs are about it. Their merch is about it. Their shows are about it. It's kind of an all-encompassed thing.
Would you say they're the roots of stoner rap as a genre?
I guess Rick James was really one of the first ones to do it. His backup singers were called The Mary Jane Girls. And obviously Bob Marley's influential too.
But I'm not sure stoner rap is technically its own genre. All of the stoner rap artists fall under their own genre and specific hip-hop style. Like, if you say Three-6 Mafia, Juicy J stoner rap, you could trace it back to trap. And Snoop Dogg stoner rap is more G-Funk. You can trace back elements to all sorts of different genres.
Stoner rap is defined by the artist who makes it lives a lifestyle based around positive cannabis use.
So it's not so much about the lyrics as the lifestyle behind the music.
Yeah, so Action Bronson could be considered stoner rap too, but he's a pretty lyrical guy. He's not just talking about partying - not like an Afroman.
And Afroman's original 'Because I Got High' wasn't setting a positive example for cannabis use.
Do you think stoner rap has influenced the legalization movement?
I think quite a bit - in both ways. If an artist were to get in trouble for something like domestic violence, people say, "Oh, and he talks about cannabis too." That puts pot in a negative light.
But in other ways, you can put cannabis in a positive light by living a positive lifestyle and being a positive influence on the community. Wiz Khalifa is a great example of that. He's a great father. He's a hard worker who makes great records while, at the same time, using cannabis. He has a very positive message. And if you go see his concerts, he doesn't tell kids to do anything crazy. He tells them to live their lives. Be true to themselves. I think that's helping to break down the barriers.
Who else in the music industry would you say is setting a positive example?
Obviously Snoop Dogg. Look at the longevity of his career. He's a family man and he's got a TV show with Martha Stewart. He took himself from a sketchy neighborhood - from a gang lifestyle to a positive role model and father figure in America. The Snoop Doggs and the Dr. Dres have done [that] for cannabis through their music. Normalizing it, making it not so fringe.
B-Real [of Cypress Hill] is another role model. He's more on the advocacy level. He's constantly pushing for the legalization of cannabis. And he's been one of the first ones in the game to openly talk about cannabis with 'Dr. Greenthumb' and some of those songs.
Yes, exactly. I'd say B-Real is just a really good guy - a humble guy. A real kind person. And he'll hit a roach if you pass it to him, you know what I mean? He's not a snob by any means. So I think he's also a good model for positive use.
So what do you see as the future of stoner rap?
It's hard to say. I think if any artist wants to be part of the lifestyle and build brands around cannabis - like Wiz, Berner, B Real and Snoop - then I think that's pretty much the future. Your music could sound like anything. Before it might have been about people sounding a certain way. But now I think it's going to be about living a certain way.
I think if you were to look at stoner rap in the future, you could line up 10 artists next to each other who might not look like they belong in the same group of people. But they do have a similar message and belong to a similar lifestyle. I think that's where it's going. When I was growing up, if you said you were a hip-hop head, you were either a backpacker or a gangster. There were one or two looks. And if you were a rocker, you were either a punk rocker or wore leather or you're a goth. Now all these looks are morphing together as lifestyles are crossing paths.
Especially when you look at what's happening in rap now. Like Playboy Carti, XXXTentacion and Lil Yachty - they don't look like rappers. They look like skateboarders, or punk rock dudes or artsy types.
Stoner rap might go away. And it'll just be who's living the lifestyle and who's not.