- Ladies and gentlemen, behold the joy of complete artistic freedom.
Although he's best known for his 2001 Grammy-nominated stoner anthem, "Because I Got High," Afroman (Joseph Foreman) isn't a one-hit wonder.
He's recorded nine heavily satirical albums, including his 2007 release, Waiting to Inhale. Fans, take note: Unless you want to download it at afromanmusic.com, you can buy it only at shows. So bring some extra cash to Union Station this weekend.
While this may be a slightly unconventional method of distribution for a man with a platinum record on his wall (courtesy of killer sales in New Zealand), the quirky, motivated simplicity of it all is firmly in line with his personality.
Afroman is to rap what "Weird Al" Yankovic is to pop. Along with a flair for laid-back beats, he has a knack for conjuring racy, yet lighthearted musical satire out of popular songs. Even at his most explicit, he's upbeat and offbeat, if heavy on the profanity.
"I like to do parodies when a song doesn't portray my mentality," he explains. "I like the music, but the lyrics need word surgery. I may even like the words, but I just want to sing it from my perspective. Have you heard that song, Beyonce's "Irreplaceable'? Well I have a song called "I Know All About You, Bitch.' Man, it's funny. I think that's my hottest one right now."
Born in South Central Los Angeles in 1974, Afroman says his first musical memory was of "walking down a big huge aisle at the church, singing a solo in my all-white suit." He was playing guitar by age 7, and went on to launch his professional rap career in junior high, when he recorded and sold to approximately 400 people a song making fun of a teacher who had him expelled for wearing saggy pants. As he got older, he continued to independently record his music, which he sold at swap meets or any other places that offered a crowd.
His first hit single, "Because I Got High," broke new ground by gaining popularity via such non-mainstream avenues as napster.com, "The Howard Stern Show," and the soundtrack for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Not surprisingly, when Afroman's buzz started growing, Universal Records came calling. In the end, it wasn't a good fit. The six-album contract Universal inked with Afroman has since gone south, and so has Afroman. He currently calls the sleepy little town of Hattiesburg, Miss., home. He's had enough of the L.A. rap race, and runs his own record label, Hungry Hustler, far from the geographical heart of "the entertainment machine."
"It's complete freedom," he declares. "I can make any album I want, put them out when I want. I do what I want to do."
Now that his latest release has dropped, it's apparent that what he really wants to do is tour. Afroman has 40 dates scheduled across the country over about 60 days, but jovially claims that it doesn't bother him.
"I want to rap for the rest of my life," he says. "I think I'm going to be like James Brown, an old man hopping off the bus, just swinging."
Afroman with 5280
Union Station, 2419 N. Union Blvd.
Sunday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15; visit ticketweb.com.