Not since 2002 has Joseph Edgar Foreman, better known as Afroman, been in the limelight with his song “Because I Got High.” His signature West Coast hip-hop sound briefly strangled the airwaves during the early 2000s.
Teenagers and adults were singing the anthem of forgetting your daily chores because you indulged in some mind-altering substances on a daily basis. You could not escape someone humming the tune, or likewise knowing every word to the rap. The song still lives on today as a very popular one among old fans and new budding hip-hop aficionados.
Despite having numerous albums, all of them falling flat after his first major label release, Afroman is still kicking out his old tunes to delight crowds across the country.
On The Rocks hosted the pie-eyed rapper on Sept. 26. The popular eatery and purveyor of all drinks alcoholic had a diverse crowd, from 20-something white kids to middle-aged black men, quaffing glasses in the dimly lit, blue-hued bar that night.
Younger patrons, clad in 49ers’ gear from the football game that night, helped subdue anticipations with beverages. The older crowd seemed more at ease within their respective groups; both spectrums were ample in volume the longer Afroman was in the wings.
Although the crowd was not at capacity, they were enthusiastic. After all, Afroman’s close proximity to Bakersfield as a Palmdale native helps his waning hip-hop cred.
While they anxiously awaited “his highness,” a few bands tamed the crowd.
Local band Amity Flow gave the crowd some songs to sing along with.
Part of the younger crowd, the members of Amity Flow were the group donning the San Francisco jerseys, they returned the ambiance from singer-song writer to traditional “green” fair.
Some of the crowd was familiar with the group, giving cheers as they took the stage, and received the cover of a Sublime song quite well. Amity Flow sufficiently regained the crowd’s attention playing famous reggae cover songs as well as their own creations. At one point they even had a local female lyricist, Uno, join them for some freestyle hip-hop to accent the mood of some covers — most notably a Bob Marley song with an impromptu verse about the pleasures of smoking “the ganja.” It was an Afroman concert after all.
While not a sell-out crowd, at $15 for the entry fee, Afroman would be hard pressed to sell-out any crowd since early 2002 with ticket prices that high, some loyal fans that did attend and were ready to sing and smoke along.
The iconic afro emerged donning a bright green outfit consisting of an old school Adidas track jacket, Dickies shorts, and high top Chuck Taylor’s, in what can only be construed as his favorite color, and a small cloud of pungent smoke marked his appearance on the small stage.
I was expecting some type of Snoop Dog transformation ( Snoop Dog recently changed his image from gangster rapper to full-fledged dreadlocked rasta) to occur with Afroman, although his music over the last 10 years should have proven me otherwise.
I thought that by now the 39-year-old would have some crazy tricks up his sleeve, but I suppose that would be just as gimmicky as his original persona.
After a rather long set-up time, which should have taken five minutes considering he had one amp, he greeted the small but noisy crowd while producing his Ipod from his green track jacket. That Ipod was connected through an auxillary cable to a single 50-watt amp, and then said amp was mic-ed through the large house PA speakers. This really gave his whole performance a karaoke feel. I have been to house parties that felt more professionally put together. Especially considering 10 feet away was the On The Rocks house DJ, with a more than modest set up, and stacks of pre-amps with blue LED’s blinking away.
This juxtaposed to the local boys, Amity Flow, seemed a little slighted and under production value for a rapper who was once nominated for a Grammy.
What made the show feel even more like a backyard house party in east Bakersfield were the 20-minute medleys of “Drunk Driver” and “Colt .45.” These little ditties came complete with stoned guitar solos that lasted equally as long. While not a terrible guitar player, his double-neck Gibson EDS-1275 should have been in the hands of a true “ax” master.
He did play all the crowd favorites though. In fact, he was encouraging fans to shout out requests (when he wasn’t blazed riffing for 10 minutes), which felt disorganized like he barely knew there was a concert that night at all.
While his style and image haven’t undergone any magical transcendence like I had hoped, there was still something redeeming about Afroman, granted nothing socially redeeming.
Afroman is still the same Afroman. He hasn’t changed much over the years and is still doing all of his biggest hits that are now over 10 years old, but that is what people want. The amount of inebriated patrons singing along and cheering proved he is doing something right, even if it is the equivalent of a ghetto Bakersfield house party.