‘Smoke Weed Everyday,’ or how hip-hop learned to stop worrying and love marijuana

Illustration by Adam Montes | The Signal

Music has an interesting relationship with drug usage. Despite casual drug use still being frowned upon, for the most part, music has never shied away from the issue at all. Whether its pop hits such as The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” or Chance the Rapper’s “Good Ass Intro,” lyrics about drugs are omnipresent. 

According to an Addictions.com study, marijuana is the most discussed drug across all genres. However, it is in hip-hop that marijuana exists as a cornerstone of the culture.

In hip-hop culture, marijuana carved out its niche as the go-to drug. When people think of drug usage in hip-hop culture, odds are their first assumption will be marijuana. 

Marijuana’s popularity in hip-hop is rooted in the counterculture nature of hip-hop. Hip-hop as a genre and subculture is rooted in rebellion, whether in the form of NWA’s “F***uck Tha Police” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.” 

With hip-hop’s origins as an underground culture, it is not surprising that the two subcultures would intersect. The union of hip-hop and marijuana changed how society views it. High-profile stoners such as Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have become advocates for the drug’s legalization.

Marijuana is a focal part of some artists’ identity. Snoop Dogg’s name is synonymous with weed culture due to his well-documented love for the drug. Wiz Khalifa opened a restaurant chain themed around stoner culture.  Kid Cudi popularized the idea of the “lonely stoner” with his song “Day-n-Nite,” which became his identity much to his frustration.

Marijuana is a bit of an oddity in terms of how it is viewed. Marijuana usage is favorable and acceptable in hip-hop compared to other substances for the most part. The widespread acceptance of marijuana within hip-hop contrasts with the second most discussed drug in the scene: cocaine.

Rappers typically depict cocaine as a means to make money and not a drug to use. Songs in the 1980s, such as “White Lines (Don’t Do It),” criticized the idea of using cocaine at all. 

The context of the anti-cocaine sentiment is a direct result of the crack epidemic that devastated communities where many rappers originated. Artists rarely rap about cocaine in a  glamorous way. Songs like Pusha T’s “Nosetalgia” or Tyler, the Creator’s “48” focus more on how cocaine negatively impacted their lives.

Marijuana as a topic in hip-hop is much more casual than cocaine. Marijuana mentions were not as prevalent until the early 1990s. The growing trend of marijuana references coincides with Cypress Hill’s debut album and Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” which marked the first time that marijuana would be at the forefront of hip-hop culture.

Clothing brands such as GFS started clothing lines around the newly forming stoner culture. At its peak, marijuana made a lyrical appearance in 45% of 1990s hip-hop songs.

Marijuana went from the choice drug for losers to the choice of superstars. Acts such as the Beastie Boys and De La Soul became poster boys for marijuana. With artists such as 2 Chainz starting up marijuana-related business ventures, it is clear to see that marijuana will remain hip-hop’s drug of choice.