WHY DO YOU THINK THEY CALL IT DOPE?

HIP-HOP IS GOING TO POT. LITERALLY.

High Times, the monthly marijuana aficionado's bible that counts Everlast among its subscribers, as the rapper proudly noted on the House of Pain album, credits Cypress with spawning the red-eyed revolution in hip-hop. Indeed, Cypress' blunt-fueled raps have sparked a mini-industry vital enough for the magazine to set aside a whole page in its September issue to rate albums on a scale of one to five bongs. Cypress itself is benefiting as much as anyone from the cash crop it's hybridized, scoring a No. 1 album and headlining what could be called the America's Most Blunted Tour with fellow stoners House of Pain and Funkdoobiest.

Meanwhile, Cypress' B-Real has emerged as the first superstar of the genre, arguably the highest-profile pot smoker in all of popular music, or maybe in all the world, if we're not counting presidents. When Black Sunday's water-pipe ode "Hits From the Bong" dropped, it apparently got legions of hip-hop n' hemp lovers to recycle their rolling papers and head straight to their local smoke shop for more upstanding smoking paraphernalia. B-Real's lyrical announcement was major news to High Times, which featured an interview with the rapper in its September issue accompanied by a cover headline that screamed: "B-REAL SPEAKS: BLUNTS OUT, BONGS IN, SO PACK THE PIPE." The story behind B-Real's bong-shell? The new song, he tells High Times, "introduces people to a much cleaner and healthier way of smoking."

But "Hits From the Bong" isn't the only dope public service announcement that Cypress Hill's recorded. An interlude on Black Sunday titled "Legalize It," which echoes the title of Peter Tosh's debut album, recites a list of reasons to take pot off the black market. Like many potheads, Cypress Hill likes to argue for the nonintoxicating uses of hemp, hoping to trick lawmakers into legalizing the herb because it's four times more efficient than trees for producing paper. On the inside cover of Black Sunday, there's even a list of 11 factoids designed to turn on people like Jesse Helms, including this revolutionary bit of U.S. history: "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp." This is ostensibly to prove to everyone B-Real doesn't like pot just because it gives him a great buzz.

Don't look for hip-hop's newfound fascination with the drug to suddenly persuade Bill Clinton or anyone else over 30 to inhale, though. According to High Times, MTV blurred the pot leaf in Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" video. B-Real also told the magazine Cypress Hill's "Stoned Is the Way of the Walk" video was too pot-heavy for the network. Marijuana's reputation as a peaceful drug also took a blow in a Times account of unruly behavior by hip-hop fans at the 20th Annual Smoke-In in New York's Washington Square Park. The magazine reported hip-hop-loving youths went berserk at the event, heckling one non-hip-hop performer and hurling beer bottles at the stage. Indeed, the music of hip-hop potheads like Cypress Hill, Dre and Cube is anything but mellow. Even if they're lighting up more and more these days, the rappers are still more enamored with Glocks and AKs than pot.

Ultimately, as in rock n' roll, all this trendiness is bound to turn pathetic when it falls out of fashion, like David Crosby or Vince Neil pretending to wallow in sorrow as part of their addiction treatment. It's easy to see B-Real and Everlast 20 years from now in an MTV antipot spot, looking earnestly off-camera and telling us all in a slurred voice they wished they had paid closer attention to the fate of Paul McCartney.

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