“This girl started calling me [Afroman] in college, and everybody thought that s--t was funny, so they started calling me that,” he continues. “I couldn’t get away from it, so I said, ‘Okay motherf--kers, my name is Afroman!’ I started making T-shirts, and I tried to make it as creative as possible, putting my head in the ‘O.’ And it worked! Everybody that was laughing at me was buying T-shirts, and they started loving me.”
Overnight success, years in the making: Following years of trying to get his rap career off the ground, Foreman gave it one last shot by passing out CDs at a party in 2000. Luckily for him, one of the recipients uploaded the album -- which featured “Because I Got High” -- to the then-newly launched file-sharing service Napster. Under 48 hours later, “Because I Got High” had generated buzz around the world. “I went viral before viral was viral,” Foreman jokes. “Napster put me in a position to be signed. Universal Records said, ‘This guy's hot’ and signed me real quick before I got loose.”
He actually was going to clean his room: Foreman confirms that the song’s opening line, “I was gonna clean my room, but then I got high” is a true story. “One of my homeboys came over, and he wanted to smoke some weed with me,” he remembers. “I said, ‘Okay, I'm gonna clean my room after we smoke this joint.’ We started smoking, then some girls came over with some beer, and it turned into a big ass party. When I woke up, my room was worse. Then I started thinking about other stuff I was gonna do until I got high. Then, I started living vicariously through my friends and thinking about stuff that they were going to do. Then, I was just trying to make a nice song -- you want to make a song that everybody can relate to. But the root of the song was that I was going to clean my room.”
Playing both sides: Despite crafting a track dedicated to getting high, Foreman had the wherewithal to ensure that his song wasn’t going to have repercussions. With references to forgetting to pay child support and gambling away car loan money, “Because I Got High” hints at the pitfalls of getting too high. “I threw the mishaps in there so people wouldn't be on my ass too much,” Foreman asserts. “The wrong person might feel like I'm trying to get their kids to smoke dope, and I'm not trying to do that. I was laughing about my own personal experience. I threw the bad stuff in there to kind of move kids away from the gateway drug that might lead them to something worse. But it went with the comedy. I made it all work.”
His approach reaped benefits, too. “It was funny, I got money from both sides -- the antis and the pros,” he laughs. “I accidentally played ‘em both, because if you're anti [drugs], you can be like, ‘Aha, see, that's what happens when you smoke too much weed!’ And then if you're pro, it's kind of like, that elbow joke, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Why he left his label: Though Afroman had signed a six-album deal with Universal, he found that the follow-up the label was looking for didn’t align with his vision. “I think Universal wanted some more ‘Because I Got Highs,’” Foreman says. “But that's a magical song, and I probably can't do that twice. [At that point], the world was ready to talk about weed and legalization. My song put that topic on the table.” He has since independently released nearly 30 projects -- including plenty more weed references -- with most being issued through Afroman’s own Hungry Hustler Records.
Rapper reinvention: Even amid a worldwide shutdown, Afroman managed to land a new business deal. “I got this saying, ‘This ain't no joke, this ain't no gimmick, we got to get paid in the middle of a pandemic,” Foreman quips. Teaming up with a new independent label/artist development firm called Cosmic Wire, Afroman signed a full label and management deal in March. The rapper linked with rising singer HEwas on a bouncy track called “Whole Thing” late last year; he plans to release more collaborations, as well as original tunes that he says will mix funk and soul with electronic sounds, later this year.