Latin Grammys 2018

Ty Dolla $ign, Melissa Etheridge, Belly & More Get Personal About Smoking Up

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Melissa Etheridge, Ty Dolla $ign & Belly

Artists' personal stories on lighting up.

THE FIRST TIME I SMOKED
By Belly

I was in grade seven, and an older friend from the neighborhood rolled this big joint. It went around a couple times, and I didn’t feel nothing. So for the next year, I didn’t smoke. Then in grade eight, there was a girl that I really liked, and she smoked weed. We met up at a park one day, and she was like, “You smoke, right?” I got so high, I didn’t even know how to talk to the girl anymore. But I ended up going out with her.

HOW I FEEL WHEN I SMOKE
By Melissa Etheridge

The part of cannabis that everyone is kind of afraid to talk about is the euphoric part, the part that’s consciousness-raising. It started in the ’60s. Then they quickly closed it down and made it Schedule I and we’re not even going to look at it. I find that part of cannabis -- the opening of the mind -- leads to incredible creativity. I think some of our great creative thinkers in the past were cannabis users -- they just didn’t talk about it. They’ve even traced it back to Shakespeare.

HOW I SMOKE
By Chuck Billy, Testament

I’m a chronic smoker. When I smoke joints, I get the heavy lung, and that’s not always the best thing for a singer. Vaping is definitely a lot easier on my lungs -- you don’t get that wheezing. It definitely helps on the road. While I’m touring, I even get to the point where I don’t burn at all.

WHAT I SMOKE
By Nellie McKay

I’d had a little indica once and I was just singing to my cat, making their food dish. It’s one of those songs that just happened. I love those [moments], and I credit the herb [for that song, “Food”]. But sativa, ooh, you got to watch it. Oh, boy. I know some folks who write their whole script based on that, and it’s really wonderful for them, it’s a fantastic buzz. But for me, I just see the worst of the world [with sativa]. It’s a scary trip.

WHEN I SMOKE
By Nick Hexum, 311

There’s a kind of stimulant effect I get from sativas: Ideas seem to drop out of the sky. I really pursue those a-ha moments and revelations and start cranking out songs with this wild creativity. I’ve read that you make more random associations and connect different dots using cannabis, and that's really been true for me. Why not use a classical chord change or just quote Bach? Why not throw some weird random reference no one would expect into a reggae song? I find these left turns I might not have come up with otherwise.

WHY I SMOKE
By Ty Dolla $ign

Weed puts me in relaxation mode, so when I’m creating, I let everything go and focus on the music. When me and Future recorded “Campaign,” we were on my studio bus for the Purple Reign Tour. There were at least 20 people on the bus from my team and his, smoking much weed, but somehow we were able to zone in on a banger.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of Billboard.

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