Since the early days of the 2000’s, few musicians have utilized and weaved humor and clever lyricism with cannabis quite like Afroman. With his hilarious hits such as “Crazy Rap” and several other songs with vulgar titles I won’t be writing because this is a blog for a law firm, Afroman became synonymous with hip hop music and cannabis-related comedy as well. Ironically, his most famous song, “Because I Got High” is a humorous ballad about his life becoming significantly worse due to cannabis use. The protagonist of the song loses out on educational opportunities, raising his children, his personal possessions and more carnal activities, all because of his cannabis use.
Despite how anti-cannabis that the undeniably popular song actually is, it’s a song with millions of yearly streams on music platforms and is included in several cannabis smoking playlists regardless. Many of his album names, from Sell Your Dope to Lemon Pound Cake to the very unsubtly named Marijuana Music, reference cannabis. Throughout his long-spanning career, Afroman has made cannabis a mainstay and a cornerstone of his artistry. He’s a musical and comedic artist that isn’t afraid to remix previously released work, such as in 2014 when he remixed “Because I Got High” as a far more pro-cannabis song that applauded the medical benefits of cannabis.
Because of his association with and frequent consumption of cannabis, Afroman has been a regular target by overzealous law enforcement officers and their unnecessary raids and harassment of cannabis users. Scrutiny from police officers isn’t exactly something new for cannabis users, but the August 2022 raid on Afroman’s home in Adams County, Ohio is particularly egregious and shows the unnecessarily harsh attitude that some law enforcement officers still hold about cannabis.
On August 21, 2022, the Adams County police served a search warrant on the home of Afroman, real name Joseph Foreman. The exact reason for the search warrant shows not only how ridiculously useless this raid was but also how deluded the objectives of the police officers had been from how Afroman actually lives his life. The primary reason that the Adams County police raided the home is due to alleged suspicion of drug trafficking and kidnapping. In total, no possible evidence of those claims were found besides a few joint roaches and about $5,000 in legally acquired cash.
The police couldn’t find a shred of evidence regarding the wildly unsubstantiated claims of kidnapping and drug trafficking and as a result, no charges whatsoever have been filed as a result of the raid. Afroman is still touring locations across the country and is currently facing no criminal charges and had his $5,000 returned to him. According to the “Crazy Rap” rapper, the money was returned with $400 mysteriously missing. Interestingly though, Afroman had his entire house covered by a thorough security system, meaning the entire raid by the Adams County police had been recorded by that system.
Worse even, Foreman himself was performing a concert in Chicago approximately when the raid occurred, so his wife had been home alone when the raid occurred.
As a result, the rapper with a penchant for humor decided to utilize this footage of the raid in the most hilarious and satirical way. Not only did he share the footage of the pointless raid across all his social media channels, he channeled that undue frustration from that stressful event into further artistic endeavors that satirized the very cops that raided his Ohio home.
“I asked myself, as a powerless Black man in America, what can I do to the cops that kicked my door in, tried to kill me in front of my kids, stole my money and disconnected my cameras?” Foreman said in an NPR interview. “And the only thing I could come up with was make a funny rap song about them and make some money, use the money to pay for the damages they did and move on.”
During the last few days of 2022, Afroman released a new song, cleverly titled “Will You Help Me Repair My Door?”. Over the song, in which Afroman lists the many pieces of personal property and infrastructure in his house that were damaged by the police raid, the visual part of the video is entirely made up of footage taken directly from the Foreman family’s security system showcasing the detailed yet unyielding raid on his residence. In the song, Afroman also questions the legality of the whole raid itself and why he had been investigated for kidnapping of all charges. As of right now, the video has 4.2 million views on YouTube, a fitting number for a rapper who loves cannabis so dearly.
Stereotypically, police officers like to give off the “tough as nails” persona and that a simple insult wouldn’t bother them to their interior. Yet, quite the opposite seems to be true as the seven law enforcement officers from Adams County who conducted the raid are now suing the rapper for “emotional distress, embarrassment, ridicule, loss of reputation and humiliation” from their admittedly grainy and obscured appearance in the aforementioned music video.
The plaintiffs in the case are seeking steep damages, such as all of the profits that Afroman would make from the song as well as live event tickets and the promotion of Foreman’s “Afroman” brand. Because many of the damages sought aren’t even related to the video itself, it’ll be interesting to see how the case will be argued in court.
“Unless Defendants are restrained,” the initial complaint written by the Adams County officers’ lawyer states, “Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury to their reputations, their mental health, and their legally protected rights as Defendants continue to willfully and maliciously violate those rights.”
As ridiculous as this case sounds and how clearly unjust the raid ultimately was, the Plaintiffs may have a legitimate argument. According to Ohio law, it’s illegal to use any aspect of an individual’s persona for a commercial purpose without their written consent and approval. However, it’s worth mentioning that a considerable portion of Afroman’s lawyers’ arguments will likely be questioning the legality of the police investigation and raid that began this whole saga and resulted in the video in question being produced. Also, the footage used in the video came directly from the Foreman family’s security system, so the footage was obtained legally.
Regardless of the outcome, this case will be an interesting one to watch as well as a case that will likely set a precedent on recording police officers on duty and when that Ohio law would come into play versus federal laws regarding privacy and police officers.