article/photos: Ani Yapundzhyan | @Aninomous
In 1999, I attended the very first Cypress Hill Smoke Out, while I was a senior in high school.
It was the first concert I had ever attended where rock music and hip hop had combined to form one huge show. During Cypress Hill’s 4:20 performance, I remember staring in awe at two guys in front of me:
One was a tall, lanky white dude sporting a tall mohawk and wearing ripped jeans, complete with chains and all. Standing next to him was a Cholo: bald head, striped Dickies shirt, Dickies pants and Nike Cortez on his feet.
They were passing a joint back and forth to each other.
To my young eyes, this was the ultimate picture of unity. I thought it was history being made in front of my eyes.
Eleven years later, the visionaries at Guerilla Union truly have make history at Smoke Out 2010.
For the first time ever in the state of California-and I’m assuming the United States-concertgoers 18 years and older with a valid medical marijuana card were allowed to bring in up to a quarter ounce of marijuana, and smoke it in the designated and private “consumption area.”
“Security took out my weed, weighed it out on a scale right there and let me take it in,” said an anonymous patient.
On-site personnel verified patients’ scripts, and once the patient was cleared by their doctor’s office, they were allowed to enter and smoke in the private area.
The “consumption area” was a heavily-secured grassy patch, covered by a wooden gate for patients’ security. All I could see was puffs of smoke rising from the gate, and nothing else.
One of the security guards at the gate told me that it was completely peaceful inside and that he didn’t mind the idea of medical marijuana one bit.
Two police officers we stopped during the concert didn’t share his attitude.
My friend and I ran into them while they were guarding the consumption area’s front gate. She matter-of-factly asked the cops, “How do you feel when you usually have to enforce something and right now you can’t enforce it?”
“I have nothing to say about that. We have no comment,” replied the cop on the right.
Then he gave us a look like “You stoners disgust me” and I walked away, leaving my friend behind trying to explain positive energy and the power of a smile to the cops.
But the cops didn’t bother anyone as Smoke Out brought on stage the likes of Incubus, Living Colour, Slightly Stoopid, Living Legends, Paul Oakenfold, and Deadmau5, amongst dozens of other acts.
Nas and Damien Marley had another superb performance, where at the very end Damien sang his father’s “Could You Be Loved” while tens of thousands of people born after Bob Marley’s time sang along to every word.
During Cypress Hill’s animated performance, B-Real replaced the usual six-foot bong he uses at the Smoke Outs with a gigantic, larger than life joint. At that point, I’m sure it was no longer called a joint. It was the size of a 1pint water bottle.
Julio G has been Cypress Hill’s DJ for quite a while now, and he was joined by Travis Barker and BoBo as they had a mini-battle, Julio scratching vs. BoBo literally making beats on the percussion vs. Travis beating the shit out of the drums. That was a dope battle, and my favorite Smoke Out moment.
Instead of performing on the main stage, Erykah Badu had taken over the Sahara Tent, and while I couldn’t understand this at first, it made sense to me as soon as she got on stage.
Badu was on a vintage trip that night: Her vintage coat covering her vintage dress accessorized with a vintage wig was only one part of the time-machine that was her show.
The yellow and orange lights and visuals, the funk of the music, all made me feel as if I was at a doper-than-disco party in the seventies. This is why the tent was perfect for her show.
The only way I could describe her performance is to show a list of the words I was writing down as she was singing: psychadelic, trippy, innovative, timeless, fresh, smart, intense, spacey.
Throughout all the wonderful weirdness, she always came back hip hop: sang over Mobb Deep‘s “Survival of the Fittest” beat, performed the Dr.Dre remix of “Bag Lady” and actually sang Nate’s part from “Explosive”:
“Badu ain’t never loved no ho…”
At the tail end of her show, she sang “Next Lifetime” so gently, so calmly, that she took on a whole different vibe from the mesmerizing future funk trip she was on all night.
Erykah Badu is a great role model for young girls. So many of them lined the front rows to hear her sing, and so many of them shouted out to her in bright, young voices. Badu is sexy and beautiful in a smock, she is alive, witty, animated. She questions reality and those girls all appreciated having an oddball to look up to.
“I would like to end this story on a very important note:
Usually at all-day concerts, things start to change at sunset. What I mean is this: At Coachella, Lalapalooza, or the hundreds of other huge events, it’s all fun and games when the sun is out, but as soon as it sets-and I mean right away-the vibe gets creepy. This is because people start to take their drugs, get all zoned out, and you can literally feel all the weirdos walking around, trippin’ out.
As the sun went down at Smoke Out, nothing changed. Everybody was walking around, acting normal-maybe a bit hungry-and keeping it positive. This is the difference between marijuana and all the other mind-altering drugs: It doesn’t make you crazy.
Everybody smoked in the sun, everybody smoked in the dark, and everybody was relaxed and happy. People didn’t get into fights, people didn’t overdose. They just put one in the air, and enjoyed some good music. And made history along the way.