Acts like Afroman are hardly expected to begin at the time stated on the flyer. Walking into the bottom floor of the Cuban Club in Ybor at 7 p.m. (the time listed for the show) there were 20 people in attendance, at most. I’ve seen Afroman twice in the Tampa area, and he’s had somewhere around four hours of openers, so we were in for a wait.
Around 10 p.m. there were somewhere between 100-150 in attendance to see the stoner icon. Reggae/rock band TrainQuill were the last openers before Afroman. True to theme, they played every ganja related song in their repertoire. To close their set, they invited Afroman up to the stage to sing their song they released in 2013 with the rapper, “Back To The Weed Man.” The song tells the story of the lead singer going to his weed man to pick up multiple times a day; Afroman comes in with a verse where he plays the weed man, rapping about being the best weed dealer in the world.
By the time the band got off stage, Afroman had been on stage about 10 minutes now and something was off. Namely, the man had not opened his eyes once since he gotten on the stage. His eyes heavy with malt liquor and ganja bud, Afroman smiled from cheek to cheek and danced with his arms and waist like Danny DeVito at a nightclub.
He donned a metallic lavender bowling shirt with wide stripes running vertically. He walked with a silver cane with a cobra carved into it and drank Colt 45 from a diamond encrusted pimp chalice. Already a tall man, his iconic afro adds about eight inches to his jolly, lumbering frame.
He began his set by intermediately shouting “Hey” or “Say What” over the entire length of "Ain’t No Fun" by Snoop Dogg. Afroman was very clearly drunk. Despite his inebriation, the veteran rapper didn’t miss a single beat. Eyes completely shut, he spit some fast but crisp bars over a remix of “Crazy Rap.” He then performed his new single he has out with Snoop Dogg, “Smoke A Blunt With You.” He claimed the song was supposed to come out a decade ago, but never came around to it “because [he] got high.”
Despite clearly having smoked and drank copious amounts before the concert, Afroman is a hell of a performer. He didn’t pull out his signature double headed guitar for this show, but he still freestyled, rapped and sang with passion in his voice. A true OG west coast rapper, Afroman delivers a smooth and well rehearsed performance, even taking requests from the crowd and hits from their joints.
“I moved into a van, and I lost my kids and wife. And now I’m singing in Tampa, Florida, and I know why. Hey hey! Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high.”
He told “a whole gang” of raunchy jokes before his classic "Crazy Rap." He ended the show by dancing around the stage for a while to the DJ, then making his way through the crowd to the front of the venue where he took pictures with anyone who wanted them.
After the crowd finally dispersed, my photographer and I were invited back into the green room where he was doing an interview with a weed specific YouTube channel. And a green room it was. What looked like an emptied out office space in the bottom level of the Cuban Club was thick with smoke, with a number of joints and blunts in rotation around the room.
Talking to Afroman, you quickly realize how dedicated he is to his music. He told a story about studying rap lyrics in elementary school and one about the first song he ever wrote, which was a diss track about a rich girl in his school that made fun of him for being poor. Though he was born in Los Angeles, he grew up in Mississippi and describes himself as a “good ol’ southern boy.” He told stories of rap battling his daughter and recited, from memory, entire verses from his favorite classic rap songs. He even did an entire acapella version of a Biggie Smalls and Mobb Deep song.
On his way out the door from the green room, eyes glued shut, he said something to me that I’ll never forget. “I gotta go to bed man, it’s tough being a drunk, high businessman.” And at the end of the day, that’s really what he is. We watched him get handed a coupled hundred dollars in a fat stack of twenties, which he promptly took pictures with. The man, the myth, the legend, Afroman headed out the front doors of the Cuban Club leaning hard on his cane, either from some unspoken problem with his joints or from the numerous joints he smoked post show.