Seventeen years ago…
I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang. The music editor, Steve Bloom, wanted to know if I knew where to get weed. “I’m uptown at the Snoop Dogg photo shoot. He’s here now with his crew and I don’t know what to do. I’ve got the budget for it; I just don’t know where to get it.”
I did. I knew my partner Pumpkin was with our weed dealer downtown at that moment so I called and told him to borrow a pound of pot. “I’ll pick up up in a cab in ten minutes.”
“Good. Get in.”
“Where we goin?”
“We’re gonna go get high with Snoop Dogg.”
There were maybe a dozen people waiting at the studio uptown, shoulders hunched and downcast eyes. As Pumpkin pulled the pound of pot from his bag, the room brightened, body language relaxed, the sun shone through the window and the party was on! Snoop settled into a chair, and a young woman began braiding his hair as we were introduced. I liked him immediately. “A very down-to-earth motherfucker” was a phrase that kept clicking in my head as we talked about kids and weed while working our way through multiple blunts. Snoop poked his nose in the freezer bag and approved: “Damn! That’s Chronic!”
We had a long shesh before the photographer finally said it was time to take some pictures. Snoop went into the studio room with the photographer while the rest of us hung back. I was hitting the blunt with his bodyguard when a very attractive woman approached and said she was Snoop’s publicist. “I just wanted to make sure you know that there is no money in the budget for Snoop to buy weed. …”
“Um… That’s okay,” I told her. “I don’t sell weed. That big bag of pot is a prop, and when we’re done I’m going to return it to the person it belongs to.”
Another few hits and another pretty woman approached. “Hi,” she smiled. “I work for the record company and I just wanted to make sure you understand that there is no money in our budget for Snoop to buy marijuana.”
“I’ve heard that.”
“…Just so you’re aware…”
“I am aware,” I acknowledged. “Don’t worry, my dear. We don’t sell weed.” I was beginning to think this might be an ongoing issue in turn-of-the-century Snoop-world. “It’s a prop. Just a prop.”
Presently the studio door swung open, and the Dogg was done. The photos were precise, courageous and a little crazy: Snoop hitting the pipe, hitting the blunt or blowing smoke at the camera.. At that moment in time he was the only top ten recording artist willing blow smoke at the world on a magazine cover.
The party continued until the sun began to set. I had to return the pound and pay for what we smoked so Pumpkin and I packed up and headed towards the door when I turned and called out, “Goodbye everybody!” – and Snoop caught my eye. His face feigned forlorn, forgotten and abandoned with a crucial hint of real genuine annoyance, as if to say to me silently from across the room, What the fuck?!…
You know how the mind goes faster than words, how you know what you’re thinking before your brain has time to say it? It was like that. I remember thinking He is the only top ten recording artist willing to get high on the cover… and we still needed his cooperation to promote that cover… and I remembered that I learned to like Snoop over the last several hours, and I wouldn’t want to leave him thinking I was a dick… and, stoner to stoner, I walking away with the weed while leaving a world-class viper high and dry. Where I come from, that was unthinkable.
He was sitting across the room on a low couch between the two women and his gangly legs, bent at the knee, were almost level to his chin. I leaned in, put my lips to his ear and whispered, “Do you want weed?”
“Fuck yeah!” sneered Snoop.
“Do you have money?”
“Fuck yeah!” he sneered derisively as if to say What kind of stupid fucking question is that?!
I gestured to my partner, and we cut through the crowd. We went into the studio, which was empty now, and I shut the door. It was just me, Pumpkin and Snoop.
“How we gonna cut it up?” Snoop wondered.
I pulled the weed out of the backpack, put my hand in the bag and pulled out a large fistful of sticky nugs.
“We will be men with each other,” I said and, placing the weed on the table. “Make me an offer.”
“Six hundred dollars.”
Snoop took off his baseball cap, sideways on his head, flipped it over like an empty bowl and lined it up to the table’s edge. As he swept the buds into the cap his with the side of his hand he said, “I love real people!”…
Then he quick-flipped the hat to the top of his head with the sticky buds concealed under the crown.
Fifteen years later… when the magazine celebrated its 40th Anniversary, an editor – not me – reached out to celebrities to gather testimonials, and Snoop Dogg provided a quote: “I remember going to the High Times photo shoot and getting blessed with a big-ass bag of dope. It was Chronic when nobody had Chronic…
“You know what?” Snoop said, finding the right word, “High Times is the realest motherfucking magazine in the world!”
[Rick Cusick is the former Associate Publisher of High Times magazine]