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MUSIC REVIEW

‘Good Times’ It Is

“Because I Got High” -- Buy the Single, Not the Album

By Melissa Kosinski-Collins

Ever since its nation-wide release on the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back soundtrack, Afroman’s break-out single “Because I Got High” has attacked the pop/rock charts all over the United States. Becoming the most requested song for radio stations in such high-maintenance audience regions as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, “Because I Got High” has ultimately been the surprise single of the summer.

Sounding somewhat like a perverse public service announcement condemning the use of drugs only after explaining the consequences of extreme and excessive use, “Because I Got High” is hoped by its author Afroman, Joseph Foreman, to “tell the truth and to set you and I free.”

The song itself lacks true musical value in regards to instrumental or harmonic flair, but does the provide the listener with a catchy sing along-type chorus and a somewhat humorous view of the life of someone unable to escape the walls of a marijuana-dependent existence. Although many different voices seem to drift in and out both taunting and condoning the singer, Afroman is the lone vocalist as well as the solo musician. “Because I Got High” is just one of 10 tracks on Afroman's first album entitled The Good Times, which he co-produced with Tim Ramenofsky.

Despite the almost instantaneous success of Afroman’s “Because I Got High” single, the rest of the album is ultimately a disappointment. The underlying theme of just about every track on the album revolves around sex and/or drugs and alcohol.

The songs themselves are so cluttered with gratuitous profanities not even remotely essential to the topic at hand that it will be amazing if any of the raps will find their way onto a mainstream play list like their “Because I Got High” precursor. Songs like “She Won't Let Me F**k,” “Let's All Get Drunk,” and “Crazy Rap” are almost as undynamic as their titles, dealing with such menial topics as the sexual exploits of the singer and his controversial travels around the country.

The tracks “Palmdale” and “Mississippi” are lyrically more enlightening as they reminisce through the childhood of the singer, providing a unique perspective into the life and trials of an African-American child growing-up in a primarily overindulgent Caucasian world. Afroman more than likely drew upon his own experiences to compose these two works. He grew-up in a suburb of Los Angeles called East Palmdale, and moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi after he became unhappy with life in California. Afroman credits Too $hort, Big Daddy Kane, and 2 Live Crew as influential artists early in his career, and both “Palmdale” and “Mississippi” demonstrate this connection with their bold truth mentality.

The most surprising jewel in the album is the song “Hush.” A break from the true rap genre, this track has a gospel-like quality that both awes and inspires the listener. The song stresses the importance of maintaining a connection between the trials of everyday life with a spiritual link. The creative incorporation of rap and soul is an entertaining, and a refreshing break from the rest of The Good Times album, shining light onto Afroman’s potential as an artist as opposed to a one-hit fluke.

If you just like the song “Because I Got High” and are unable to just download the MP3, my advice is to buy the single. Afroman’s The Good Times is the first attempt of an artist who needs to mature before he can truly become successful. Songs like “Palmdale” and “Hush” show that Afroman has the potential to excel in the pop/rock and rap worlds, but he needs to move beyond the teenager mentality before this is possible.

The album possesses a fun atmosphere that is intriguing the first time around, but all-too-soon loses its luster. The Good Times is definitely an album that is an asset for any party line-up based on its easy-to-remember lyrics and topic choice, but for everyday listening the album lacks depth and musical merit.