By Phyllis Pollack
Clearly outraged by laws that interfere with patients’ rights to medicate, they are not only strong advocates, but are demonstrably highly emotional about it, demonstrably taking the issue very personally.
Clearly outraged by laws that interfere with patients’ rights to medicate, they are not only strong advocates. Passionately emotional about it, they demonstrably take the issue very personally.
In the midst of a national tour, their energy is high.
Last week, their new Top of the World album took the Number One spot on iTunes. Stacked with top shelf tracks like “Marijuana,” Mona June,” “Way You Move,” and the title track, it is no surprise.
C-Money, who contributes trumpet and vocals, and Dela, who plays sax in the group, have clearly managed to keep their lungs in good shape. “I prefer a bong,” says C-Money.
He adds that it helps him to prepare for a show. “I kind of just listen to my body, and whenever it wants to mellow out, I definitely want to enjoy, and blaze right before we go on, because it kind of helps anxiety subside a little bit, and to get rid of a little of the nervous energy. It’s very calming.”
Dela, however, says, “I like to have spliffs. If not, I’ll take a hit off a bong or a bubbler.”
“I love OG Kush,” says C-Money. “I love any variant thereof. It makes you feel like it’s the first time every time.”
Mary Jane is one of their artistic muses. Dela says that marijuana has very much influenced the sound of the band. He comments, “If you look at your history books, you will see that marijuana influences a lot of music, not only throughout American music, but music all over the world. For some reason, musicians and marijuana have always kind of been kindred souls.”
“Louis Armstrong was a very adamant marijuana smoker,” Dela adds. “He said he smoked every day of his life. If you go right down the line, I could start naming names, but you guys already know what’s up.”
C-Money is a second-generation marijuana user. “My parents went to Woodstock. They were of that era. They smoked herb, but my dad didn’t understand that you have to get into the system. You really need to change the laws. You really need to kind of play the game, not just fight the system like they were doing.”
He explains, “Because of their defiance, and their revolutionary spirit, as their children, we want to live normal lives. We don’t want to feel like criminals, and we want to assimilate marijuana into our lives. If I want to smoke marijuana, or grow it in my backyard, or give it to one of my friends, I don’t want to feel that there is anything wrong with that at all.”
He adamantly asserts, “I would be protected under our Constitution with such freedoms.”
In response to the Los Angeles City Council voting to close the city’s dispensaries on September 6, Dela says, “I think it’s crazy on a national level. I’ll tell you why. If we’re a democracy, which we supposedly are, if the majority of the people want something for use, or has something they want to do every day, we have the power to have that in a democracy. So I think what is going on is a crock of shit. We need to fight for our democracy.”
“We’re not fighting for our democracy,” he passionately argues. “If we want it, then we should have it. It’s not hurting anyone else, and we’ve proven that. We know that. It’s just a basic violation of our rights as Americans, I think.”
C-Money is heated, as well, chiming in, “The real kick in the balls is that the dispensary owners, and I know plenty of them in San Diego, they’re all willing to pay taxes. We understand that alcohol, from the time it’s made to the time it’s sold, is taxed over thirty to forty times in certain instances. We’re talking all the ingredients used, distribution, liquor licensing, to buy it, and then to sell it. All the way until you purchase a drink at a restaurant.”
He continues his point without taking a breath. “The fact that people are willing to do this, and to flood money from it into the raising of our economy right now, which needs all the help it can get, and we need some American-based business, which I can tell you, because we have been all over the world.”
“The best marijuana is grown in Southern California,” C-Money asserts. “Mark my words on that. I’ll say it again. The best marijuana on planet earth, the most competitive product that could be made, is grown right in Southern California.”
Lamenting the waste of valuable financial resources, he explains, “The way that Italy has its fine wines, the way that France has its fine wines, the way that the Germany has beer, America could be exporting, importing. Fuck exporting. We could be trading within our own borders. All this marijuana making shitloads of money, state to state, and we’re sleeping on it.”
The speed of his words increases with his irritation. “And whoever is sleeping on it is taking food out of your and I’s mouth. The middle class. That’s who is being hurt by this, and what sucks is that we’re the majority.”
“We are losing it if we don’t organize ourselves, stop with our petty little differences, and get on the same frickin’ page.” C-Money firmly states.
“We need to be on the same page of music,” he says, underscoring his point.
As strong activists for decriminalization, the band feels they don’t need to play a special concert to get their views across. C-Money contends, “Every show we play” creates awareness for the cause of decriminalizing weed. The band couldn’t be any more blatant about their views.
“We smoke herb on stage. Every night, no matter what state or city we’re in,” Dela reports.
“We’re Americans. We believe in the fundamentals,” says C-Money, who opens up his shirt, and exposes a large tattoo depicting a snake. It is embellished with the words, “Don’t tread on me.” Flaunting a symbol of freedom from Colonial America, C-Money doesn’t ask for freedom, he takes it.
“Most Americans out there are with it,” notes Dela. “People in the clubs, they don’t give us problems, and they don’t give the people that are attending our shows problems. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of the people want it. It’s already there. It’s happening.”
“My father is a disabled veteran of the Viet Nam War,” confides C-Money. “He needs to smoke. He is a diabetic at this point. I grew up watching him get busted for having like a pipe and like a gram of herb, when there are crack dens and meth labs, and all of this. Just immense problems that we really need to focus our law and order on.”
“You wanna spend some tax dollars on some law enforcement for drugs?” asks Dela. “Go find meth. Go find that shit. I don’t want that shit on the streets.”
Getting busted wasn’t going to stop C-Money’s dad from smoking marijuana. When it came to getting nailed for possession of marijuana, “It was a continuous thing. He got arrested for it before I was even born.”
“I remember being about ten,” he somberly reveals. “The embarrassment of going to school and having the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officers cram a bunch of bullshit down your throat. I agree that cocaine, or anything that is physically addictive is wrong, and it needs to be controlled in that regard. But marijuana has been proven to not be a physically addictive drug.”
C-Money believes that cannabis can be a healthy part of a holistic lifestyle. “It can be grown, dried, used. It can be used in all forms from oils to food, to clothing. It’s like we’re just sleeping at the wheel over here,” he says, sounding disgusted.
He again brings up how decriminalization of marijuana could help a failing economy and rising unemployment. “The money wheel. It’s ridiculous. That’s why there is no shame in the game. Because as Americans, we need to be on this. Trust this, my grandfather knew what was up with prohibition, and that it was a complete failure as a social experiment, to deny people the right to buy, sell and purchase their own alcohol in this country.”
“And in a freedom-based society, how the hell are you going to justify marijuana illegal?” he asks with an indignant tone of righteous disgust.
While incorporating marijuana into their travels on the road, one of their best experiences was when the band travelled to Jamaica. “It’s beautiful. You really experience the place the music comes from. The scenery, the smells in the air, the ganja that they smoke, the ocean, all of those things are compiled in the music,” says Dela.
Because of their association with reggae, Slightly Stoopid received an extra warm reception in Jamaica. C-Money enthused, “People were giving us all this herb. I was taken to a house, far away from where we were. I was removed from our little circle of the reggae community. These 15 year-old kids produced some of the best ganja I’ve seen in a long time. They knew what was up. They were all sitting around, writing songs.”
“One of the kids said, ‘You want the good ganja?’ It was the last day we were there. This was the real good stuff,” C-Money recalled, with a glow in his eyes. “It was chronic. It was outdoor, really well done. It was up in the mountains with that really cool air, and that’s what you really need if you understand the science of it.”
C-Money credits marijuana for the fact that the band’s new album is the Number One music download. “The bottom line is that it shows a lot of people smoke weed out there. We’re pretty much a weed band. That’s what we do. We’re not like it’s the only thing in life, but it’s what we do. It’s part of who we are. All of our fans either smoke, or tolerate the fact that we do.
“To incorporate it into the marijuana movement shows there’s a lot of stoners out there,” he surmises.
“Our people are the majority,” agrees Dela. “People that smoke marijuana are the majority in this country. It just so happens that a lot of them relate to the music we play and that we write.”
C-Money doesn’t believe people should have to get a doctor’s authorization to smoke marijuana. “You don’t need a prescription from a doctor to drink alcohol,” he points out. “I don’t think it’s fair. I think we need to regulate marijuana like alcohol. I’m going to bust it out because I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with NORML lately. November, Colorado this year with Amendment 64, and Washington State with Initiative 502, are both voting to change their state constitution to legalize marijuana, and regulate it like alcohol. So if you’re 21 and over, you can purchase up to an ounce, and have it on your person. You can grow up to a certain amount, you can sell it, whatever.”
“They want to do away with the medical thing because alcoholism is what it is. The fact we don’t have that on lockdown, but we need a doctor to smoke marijuana? It’s great with (being legal with a doctor’s authorization). It’s a step in the right direction, the dispensaries. But we need to just legalize it,” C-Money urges.
“I won’t stop until they legalize it,” promises Dela. “It’s like a Constitutional thing.”
Not an easy feat, the band has managed to attain credibility as what is predominately a reggae act, while being comprised of mainly white musicians. “I’ve been playing reggae music my whole life,” asserts C-Money.
“My dad is married to a Jamaican woman. If you want to break it down, it’s like I’ll walk the talk and walk the walk, and do my thing. Because we’re genuine. We’re respected by a lot of Jamaicans who understand that we’re not exploiting their culture. We’re not disrespecting a lineage of a torch that was kind of passed to us that is very sacred to us, and we’re very, very protective of that.”
While a lot of white people sport long dreads and wear green, white and yellow, Slightly Stoopid is comfortable enough with themselves not to be posers, imitators or panderers to Rastafarian culture. “Just because you’re a Rasta, it doesn’t mean you understand reggae music, although reggae is steeped in Rasta,” Dela comments. “I just think it’s who you are inside.”
“We all studied reggae music forever,” says Dela. “We’ve all studied the ups and downs, the ins and outs. From the beginning of it to the second wave.”
“What you’ve asked is a very good point. I’ve been playing reggae music since I was 18 on a professional level, and I’m 33 now. Rastafarian beliefs comprise a very recognized religion. Just like in Judaism you have the hardcore, the Hassidic people, who wear the garb. Then you have the normal people. In Christianity, you have Catholics that are hardcore, then you have your Lutherans and Presbyterians that still believe in that, but you have every religion. There are the Arab extremists, then you have Islamic people that live with other people.”
“In our country, we have separation of church and state. I have to give everyone a right to do his or her thing. The dreadlocks, the red, green and gold, that is a direct lineage of what Rastafarian culture is. It comes from Ethiopia originally. When people wear that, that’s what they’re representing.”
Opening up, he says, “I, on the other hand, am a Presbyterian kid, who came from the South,” he explains. “I’ve grown up with Jewish and black kids, everybody under the sun. So I kind of Americanize everything we do, and that’s what Sublime did with reggae that made it so mainstream. It removed some of the religious overtones, and it made it more acceptable to everyone. And that is the key, because the ultimate essence isn’t for me to jam some religion down your throat. The ultimate essence is to live a good life and to have a good time. No one can deny that. Food, clothes and shelter, that’s what everyone wants.”
One of the tracks on the new album that has been getting attention is the song entitled “Marijuana.” Dela and C-Money simultaneously credit Don Carlos, who is a featured guest on the album, for the anthemic track.
“Legend, a reggae legend,” raves Dela. “You were talking about what gives us credentials. This is the kind of respect that we love to receive from our colleagues. Don Carlos, to write music with him. That’s the torch.”
“That recognition from a real Rastafarian, who is someone who knew Bob Marley when he was a little kid, and was really connected to what we grew up studying, and hoped one day to be a part of, and we did, through the graces of hard work, good timing, and a love of what we do.”
“He says it best.” C-Money then breaks into song, singing part of the song. “I love her, I love her, I just don’t care. She’s the only lover I’m willing to share. Marijuana.
He is the true article, as far as a person. He’s like a father figure. Gangsta, righteous, loving, tough, sincere, wise. I just can’t stop with him. He’s the full encompassing of a man, and what it means to do your job, and do what you were supposed to do. He even told me, ‘If you do good works, you’ll be taken care of.’”
Because if you make people happy, that’s what Jah works are all about. That’s that good vibe thing. A lot of people just want to always bicker. But if you get down and you quarrel every day, you’re singing praises to the devil, I say.” That’s what Bob Marley taught us.
“It’s the same thing with marijuana,” he continues, still not ready to stop expounding on herb. “People constantly put up this fight when they don’t have to smoke it to benefit from money. The hospitals, the fire departments, the police departments, everybody’s going to come up. And right now, we’re hard up. The economy is hard up right now. So how do we come up?”
“It’s a marijuana interview!” C-Money relentlessly shouts out to someone in the room that is trying to get his attention. “This is an important thing. That’s why I got this tattoo. I was arrested coming back from Amsterdam with half a gram of hash that I mistakenly had in my bag. I told the officer, ‘Look, I was just at the Cannabis Cup. This was in my suit, and we left at like four in the morning from our hotels. I’m not trying to flood the streets of America with half a gram of hash of frickin’ hash over here.” His voice is getting louder and more agitated.
Dela laughs at C-Money’s humorous statement.
“You know, by the time they tested it, there was nothing left. They charged me 1200 dollars, and took my credit card, and let me board my connecting flight. It’s not about morals; it’s a racket to me. It’s about money.”
He is clearly not ready to let this go any time soon. “It was in the Detroit airport. Do you know how much illicit booze traveled across the border during Prohibition through Michigan from Detroit? Hello, Detroit. You were bad in Prohibition, and you busted me for half a gram of hash! Boo! Al Capone was chillin’ in Detroit. That’s the ridiculousness of this.
His belief that marijuana should be legal is so strong, he says, “I can’t even believe that we have to sit here and talk about it.”
Almost sounding agitated, he says, “I’m sorry to get so emotional about it, but it’s undeniable.
He then quotes the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
“We need to be more organized,” he asserts.
C-Money then offers a plan to all readers of The 420 Times. “All the readers that read this magazine, don’t complain. Don’t sit there with your back against the wall. Call you neighbor, and rally the fucking people. Because that’s what this country is about.”
The 420 Times