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Getting recognition

By Jeremy Reynalds
web posted August 27, 2001

At first glance viewers might have thought it was a slow news day when Albuquerque's NBC affiliate led its 10 p.m. newscast with a story about rapper "Afroman." This was one story which didn't seem to typify the old adage used by some about television news -- "If it bleeds, it leads."

Afroman, AKA Joseph Forman
Afroman, AKA Joseph Forman

But in another way it did; admittedly not an actual physical bleeding but as an example of a slow cultural bleed of the morals and values that made us once the greatest nation in the world. The KOB TV lead story was about Afroman's song "Because I Got High," which has some parents fuming, (no pun intended) and kids and radio station personnel saying the song is a musical phenomenon.

Comments about the song on Afroman's web site, www.hungryhustler.com included ones like this: "Never before in my career have I seen a record react like this," says rock radio WBCN assistant Program Director Steven Strick. " ... It is bigger than anything else we have on the air," echoes WXRK Music Director Mike Peer."

The response to the song has been higher than when K-Mart's blue light special was at its peak. For example, Albuquerque's KKSS FM had about 100 requests in one day and then KBTT Program Director Big Mamma revealed on hungryhustler.com that "Because I Got High" is "'going to be our biggest hit of the summer.' WJFX Hot 107.9 Program Director Phil Becker summed it up with, 'After 19 spins this is the number one record on the station, with 20 times more requests than any other song on the air. I can promise you that AFROMAN will out-request any song on any station!!! If you took all the requests for Slim Shady, Shaggy, City High or any other track & they would still not beat AFROMAN.'"

While Afroman -- aka Joseph Forman -- told the Boston Globe in a recent interview that the song is simply a "dumb song," and is not supposed to be a pro-pot anthem, maybe he should tell his fans.

A smattering of postings on his web site, www.hungryhustler.com, includeds some real gems. From Holden, Louisiana "I'm glad afroman's finally getting all the recognition he deserves he's by far my favorite rapper to listen to when i'm high, stoned, blowed out or just sober so all i've got to say is afroman's about to FLIP THE SCRIP!!! (sic).

Another brilliant pearl of wisdom came all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia. "If you grow it smoke it. all day everyday. live long and prosper with weed." (sic)

Somebody else wrote in, "I love that song because i got high cuz now iam high!!" (sic) and not to be outdone, an individual who hailed from "Hwy 101 wrote "Smoking pot is more fun then the law alows" (sic).

In addition, most of the postings on the site are peppered with foul language and the site also includes a caricature of Afroman smoking (and presumably it's NOT a cigarette!).

So how did this obvious cultural gem of a song come about? In a recent interview, Afroman told the Boston Globe that he wrote the song last year after "plans to clean his room evaporated in a ganja haze when a friend visited. 'Right before I was going to clean the room, one of my buddies I hadn't seen in a long time came by with a big blunt. And I didn't do anything that whole day. Around 4 p.m., I was sitting there about to fall asleep because I was really tired. I was going to make a last-ditch effort to clean the room, but then I started writing the lyric 'I was gonna clean my room until I got high.' And the rest of the words came in a domino effect."

Yeah. Words like this. And these are the words I can reproduce on a family friendly site. We won't go into the portion laced with grossly foul language that is totally disrespectful to women and sounds like it came straight from the garbage pit.

I messed up my entire life because I got high.
I lost my kids and wife because I got high.
(say what, say what, say what, say what, ohhhhhh.)
Now I'm sleepin' on the sidewalk and I know why.
(Why man?) Cuz I got high I'ma stop singing this song because I'm high. (present tense)
I'm singing this whole thing wrong because I'm high.
(bring it back, bring it back, bring it back)
And if I don't sell one copy, I'll know why.
(Why man?)
Cuz I'm high
(Are you really high though, man?)
Cuz I'm high, cuz I'm high, cuz I'm high

So here's the point. Stations around the country are playing this song quite happily, apparently not caring what songs like this and others are doing to our nation's fast fading collective morality. Despite the song's demeaning attitude toward women and sexual intimacy, Afroman's hypocritical lambasting of corporate America while milking the system for all it's worth, (as you saw above), program directors are going nuts over it. One employee from a local radio station said that they have no intention of banning the song. One-hundred requests a day for the song on this station were apparently the only criterial deemed necessary to justify its continued airplay.

However, a few months ago the management of this same Albuquerque radio station sang a different song when Joy Junction, the emergency homeless shelter I founded and direct, turned down an approximately $1200.00 gift from a local homosexual group that raised the funds from a drag show. Our refusal made Bruce Pollock, the general manager of Simmons Media and the owners of KKSS FM, upset enough to ban me from his airwaves where I had been an occasional substitute talk show host.

In this supposedly politically correct age, I find decision making like this curious. Joy Junction turned down some money which we believed was inappropriately raised for a ministry like ours to accept, and I was banned from Pollock's stations. Afroman comes out with this filthy song which is a blight upon community standards and KKSS and other corporate media moguls are determined to keep playing it. Could it be that Simmons and other media conglomerates don't care about community standards and that the bottom line is money?

After all, if they had let me continue on the air, some of their gay listeners may have been offended and they may have lost bucks. If they had pulled this song from the airwaves, then presumably they feel they would have lost money too.

In every city in the nation where this song has been played, it is the actions of radio programmers that have made, at least initially, Afroman a hit and that at the expense of our young people's morality. It is time all of us stood us as Christians or conservatives and let these media conglomerates like Simmons and others know that giving airplay to songs like this and others are not the actions of good, responsible corporate citizens." You may contact Simmons Media by writing to http://www.simmonsmedia.com/ALB/feedback.asp or by writing Simmons in New Mexico at RadioBruce@aol.comESR

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing his PhD in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work can be viewed here and weekly at www.americasvoices.org. He may be contacted by e-mail at reynalds@joyjunction.org.

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