How 'Because I Got High' by Afroman shot to fame and then hit the ground just as fast
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Featured Image Credit: Vice/YouTube/ogafroman/YouTube
Afroman's 'Because I Got High' was a monster hit back in the early 2000s but its position at number one in the charts didn't last long.
The singer, 48, sat down with Vice to discuss how he rose to fame and the people managing him have revealed what went wrong.
“When I wrote ‘Because I Got High’, I was ready to experiment with the power of simplicity," Afroman explained.
“I just happened to get high and realise, that stuff wasn't getting done.
“You ever see those comedians? They come back to something.
“Every time they come back to it, it gets funnier.
"I was going to go to class, then I was going to go to work.
“It was funny to me. I laughed, then I recorded it on an eight-track.”
After walking into a music store one day, he convinced a small-time record dealer to help him mix his song and get it out there.
Founder of T-Bones Records, Tim Ramenofsky, said: “It was very slow in the beginning. We sold ten copies one week, 13 copies another week.
“And it was all his doing, going to shows, playing any show, sometimes multiple shows a night, just to sell CDs.
“But, eventually, I started noticing the sales ticking up. First, it was ten a week through the distributor and then Afroman was selling 20 a week through the distributor and then Afroman sold 100 a week through the distributor.
“He started to get to New Orleans and he got to Mobile and Birmingham.
“It started getting out and out and out. And that's what caught the eye of Universal.”
In the year 2000, Dan McCarron was the A&R guy at Universal Records, who was focused on the record label’s goal to find ‘hit songs that already existed.’
McCarron said: “A radio station in Hattiesburg started playing this song by this guy named Afroman, called ‘Because I Got High’.
“We would talk to record stores in the area, asking, ‘You ever heard of Afroman? You ever heard of the song 'Because I Got High’?’
“And they would laugh. They were like, ‘Have I ever heard of Afroman? [ Laughs ]. Everybody has heard of Afroman’. It's like that's all anybody wants.
“We listened to the whole album. It's like, ‘What is this?’
“It was rap. It was comedy. It was incredible. I'm getting goosebumps, thinking about it. [ Laughs ] It was really exciting.”
He added: “So, yeah, I think all of us had a little hesitation about it, initially, but I think part of the brilliance of that song is, on paper, it's a cautionary tale about all the bad things that will happen to you, [ Laughs ] if you smoke weed.”
“It was probably six months that it went from selling 100 a week to signing a million-dollar publishing deal,” Ramenofsky admitted.
By the summer of 2001, the single went number 1 in 11 countries around the world.
However, on September 11 was the 9/11 tragedy and radio stations made the decision to stop playing the song.
“Afroman went from, you know, top of the charts everywhere to zero spins on radio, and stayed there,” McCarron said.
"The word from radio was, ‘The country has changed. You know, it's simply like that it's not funny anymore’.
“It cut the legs out from underneath it instantly.”