There are plenty of songs that were number one hits that are beyond confusing. For starters you’re not going to see me defending Los Del Rio or Right Said Fred anytime soon. The fact is there are two types of one hit wonders, ones that deserve the title (Baha Men, Gerardo) and once’s that don’t (Harvey Danger, The New Radicals) despite what 99.9% of the music world will have you believe Afroman belongs in the latter group.
In the summer of 2001 you couldn’t avoid the hit single Because I Got High. The comedic song about a man who’s life has crumbled do to his marijuana abuse was easily the hit of the summer. It started as an independent release that got big thanks to Napster. It caught the ear of Howard Stern who made the song a huge hit and got Afroman signed to Universal Records. The song was featured in multiple films (most popularly in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).
The song was ‘released’ on Afroman’s “debut” album The Good Times. The album was actually a compilation of the best songs off Afroman’s first three independent albums. The follow up single Crazy Rap didn’t chart as well as Universal had anticipated and Afroman was quickly dropped. However he still records and releases independent albums to this day (most recently 2009’s Frobama: Head of State his 13th album).
So why am I defending Afroman? What possible reason could I give to support his music?
Well for starters it’s fucking hilarious. Because I Got High was a funny novelty song sure but the real gold is on the rest of the album. Songs like Crazy Rap (where Afroman raps about every girl he’s had sex with for 6 minutes) or She Won’t Let Me Fuck have a delightfully perverted sense of humor. What makes the whole album extra ridiculous is that when he’s rapping (Palmdale) or singing (Hush) he’s above average at both.
Admittedly the subject matter never extends from either Drugs (Tumbleweed), Sex (Crazy Rap) or Alcohol (Let’s All Get Drunk), but that is part of the appeal. I remember when the album first came out reading an interview with Afroman (aka Joseph Foreman) and he said that the persona of Afroman was a satirical version of all the stereotypes of black culture. THis is most clear in the song Tall Cans where he repeatedly talks about ‘Walking down the street with some chicken and forty’.
So if Afroman is so great? Why haven’t I heard of him (or his 13 albums) in years? After the success of The Good Times, Afroman got out of his six record contact with Universal Records. And in 2004 began releasing his independent records starting with Afroholic…The Even Better Times. Afroholic is a double disc album packed with parodies of songs like the Cheers Theme (Nobody Knows Your Name) and Jack and Diana (Jackin Afroman) which tell various reasons why he left Universal as well as original new songs.
There’s multiple reason Afroman gives for leaving the label (He didn’t like the fame, Universal took all of his money) but I think the song Whack Rappers shows that his biggest issue was with hip-hop himself.
Despite the obscurity the rapper continues to be popular in Underground hip-hop. He has appeared at the Gathering of the Juggalos and even performed guitar with one of my favorite bands Eels. Turns out he’s also a good guitarist.
Tell us about your guilty pleasures in the official guilty pleasures thread.