With more than 25 years in the world of hip-hop, Afroman is way past earning his master's degree in rap.
“I have a doctorate in rap,” the veteran MC said in a telephone interview last week. “Move over Dr. Dre.”
A decade after his cautionary tale about the effects of marijuana, “Because I Got High,” became a huge hit, Afroman said he can't seem to break away from the song. Just as Bruce Springsteen can't perform without singing “Born in the USA,” fans will expect to hear “Because I Got High” when Afroman comes to Bend's Domino Room on Sunday (see “If you go”).
While Afroman said he'll be sure to give the fans what they want to hear, he said his audience's expectations limit his ability to perform his new material.
“Fans are selfish,” he said. “They pour ambition concrete on you because they only want to hear what they know.”
But Afroman has found the solution: inventing new rapper identities. To familiarize the world with his new music, he's going to start performing under new images and names, he said. He'll still produce and perform new material as Afroman but at a slower pace to appease his audiences.
Before he could switch up his identity, though, GO! Magazine called Afroman for a chat. Here's an edited transcript:
GO!: Can Bend expect to hear new tracks at the concert Sunday?
Afroman: Sometimes I wonder if I should just sing everything the crowd wants or if I should come in and do new songs. A concert is a celebration of the music you know. I don't want to cram new stuff down their throats. I'll try to get (to the Domino Room) a little early and see what the crowd likes.
GO!: Why do you keep coming back to Bend?
A: I love my fans. I have some strongholds in America ... because of people who heard “Because I Got High.” It's been 10 years since “Because I Got High” and cities like Bend are keeping me in the game. Bend has kept with me past “Because I Got High” and is familiar with all my songs.
GO!: What is your ritual before you get on stage to perform?
A: I like to get to town early and get into the mood of hip-hop and what it means to me. I don't want to shortchange my fans so I smoke blunts and play music while I pull out my best clothes. I go to the barber shop. I do my nails. (I) put on my cologne and buy jewelry cleaner to drop my big chains in. It's about quality, looking good and rapping good.
GO!: There's been a lot of press about the increase of medical marijuana fees in Oregon. What are your views about marijuana and it's legalization?
A: Legalize it. I don't want to go to jail no more. I'm about any kind of decriminalization of marijuana and myself. I'd be happy to have something I like not be illegal.
GO!: When you come to Bend do you get the chance to explore the city?
A: I work two jobs. I have corporate business to do during the day and musical work at night, so that limits my time to walk around town.
GO!: What is the worse job you've ever had?
A: Working at the chicken factory or at the airport loading up suitcases.
GO!: What stresses you out?
A: I got rid of what was stressing me out: my “baby mama.” Now, I'm a 24-hour rapper.
GO!: Who inspires you?
A: Jesus inspires me. I have a problem with women but if you cut a few brown spots out of my apple I'd be more like him. Being from the ghetto I'm always inspired by rich dark dudes. I like flamboyant people who did something athletic or talked a little crap like Muhammad Ali, Don King or legendary pimps. Musically, KRS One was the most intelligent, creative ... MC I've heard (and) Too $hort in general inspires me. He's simplicity and complexity in one.
GO!: What does the future hold for your music?
A: As I look back on my musical experience I think back to when I was a little kid with a party hat on getting down with the music. My music is my donation to society; it's something that moves me and I want to pass it on. It's like a good sandwich ... take a bite of this. If I wouldn't listen to it, I wouldn't sell it to you. I've got a whole bunch of musical projects going on. Fans can check out my new albums on www .afromanmuzzicc.com.