High Times and Hip-Hop: 14 Iconic Covers

When I arrived at High Times in late 1988, the only Black music the stoner magazine covered was reggae. It was basically read by white male rock fans who liked to go to concerts and smoke pot. Some grew plants in their basements and backyards.

March 1992

Founded in 1973, hip-hop began to hit the charts with songs like "Rapper's Delight" in 1979, "The Breaks" in 1980 and "The Message" in 1982. This year marks the 50th anniversary; the Hip Hop 50 Live concert featuring Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Run-DMC and many more is happening Friday night at Yankee Stadium. I'll be there.

March 1993

In the '80s and '90s, my taste in music steered towards hip-hop. I'd grown up on rock and the Beatles, but by the early '70s I switched gears and started listening to funk, soul and jazz. Hip-hop, with all of its '70s beats, was natural to my ears. 

June 1995

By 1991, my job at High Times was music editor. One day I received a call from Howard Wuelfing, a publicist at Sony, hyping a new hip-hop group from L.A. called Cypress Hill. Not only did they rap about weed on their eponymously titled first album with a potleaf on the cover, the trio had also reached out to NORML and become their spokesband. I jumped at the opportunity to interview them. This led to a cover story in the March 1992 issue. Cypress Hill were not a well-known group yet, but High Times placed them on the cover holding blunts with a big pile of weed. The issue sold well.

RELATED: Cypress Hill's Black Sunday 30th Anniversary Edition

August 1996

At the time, the marijuana legalization movement mostly flowed through NORML, an organization founded by lawyer Keith Stroup that consisted primarily of drug defense attorneys. NORML Conferences held in Washington, DC were pretty white affairs until Cypress Hill and other hip-hop artists embraced cannabis as a creative elixir and social cause.

February 1999

High Times followed up in 1993 with a hip-hop issue featuing Redman on the cover, plus stories about Brand Nubian and Gang Starr. In 1995, we featured Ice Cube when he starred in Friday. The next year it was Method Man and Wu-Tang Clan's turn. The bridge was being built - from cannabis to hip-hop. 

I'm proud to have been part of the period in High Times' history when closing the racial divide in cannabis was an imperative. Mission accomplished.

January 2000

The '90s is noted for a plethora of weed songs written and performed by rappers. The same thing occurred in the '30s when marijuana was spreading like a wildfire throughout Harlem among the jazz cats who dubbed it reefer, jive, gage and shizzut.

July 2002

So it's my opinion that High Times did a great service to the legalization cause by connecting Black and white pot smokers, showing how much they had in common even if they listened to different styles of music. I like to think High Times had a hand in that, which ultimately led to social equity programs and minority leadership in states like New York. 

Here are High Times' hip-hop covers, in chronological order:

• Cypress Hill, March 1992

New York photographer Andrew Brusso stacked the three members of Cypress Hill – B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs – for the cover design. In the centerfold, B-Real showed how to roll a blunt. I wrote the stories.

October 2003

June 2005

• Redman, March 1992

Redman and Brand Nubian were invited to photographer Michael Benabib's 5th Aveue studio. The charismatic Redman walked away with the cover. Greg Casseus (now known as DJ Greg Caz) wrote the story.

• Ice Cube, June 1995

Coordinating with the April release of Friday, starring Ice Cube, High Times featured the South Central rapper on the cover. It was shot in Los Angeles by Andre Grossmann with the story written by Casseus. 

November 2006

• Method Man, August 1996

Casseus, photog Dennis DiChiaro and I arrived at the Wu-Tang Clan house in Staten Island early in the day. Many hours passed before the shoot could begin, because Method Man was not there yet. We smoked blunts to the point where we could barely see. Meth finally arrived, stole the shoot and ended up on the cover holding a blunt.

• B-Real, February 1999

We returned to Cypress Hill, catching up with the band on the Smokin’ Grooves tour in Maryland. Raphael Fuchs focused his camera on frontman B-Real and I wrote my second Cypress Hill cover story.

• Snoop Dogg, January 2000

After a number of false alarms, a Snoop Dogg cover shoot finally happened at Benabib's studio for the first issue of the new millennium. Most shoots are fairly fast, but this one went on for hours, to the point I had to wake Snoop up from a catnap on the couch when it was all over. Pat Charles penned the story.

• Snoop Dogg, July 2002

This time, rather than smoking a large joint, Snoop had a blunt hanging from his lips and was holding two trophies he’d received at the High Times Stony Awards awards show. Brian Jahn took the impromptu photo backstage and I wrote the Stonys story.

RELATED: Celebrities on the Cover of High Times

August 2010

• Ali G, October 2003

Will Blochinger shot Sacha Baron Cohen in his Ali G faux-rapper character getup. Malcolm MacKinnon (pen name Dan Skye) flew out to L.A. to document the shoot and write the story.

• The Game, June 2005

What was suppoosed to be a Method Man and Redman cover was replaced last minute by hot rapper The Game. Katy Wynn did the shoot and Zena Tsarfin wrote the story.

• Kottonmouth Kings, November 2006

SoCal rappers KMK found their way to the cover in 2006 with photos by Derek Plank and story by Steven Hager.

April 2012

Damian Marley & Nas, August 2010

The reggae star/Marley son and New York rapper came together for the album Distant Relatives and this cover shoot by Grant LeDuc and story by Chris Simunek

Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa, April 2012

Like the Ice Cube shoot 17 years earlier, HT had Snoop and Wiz pose to hype their stoner movie, Mac & Devin Go to High School

June 2014

Snoop Dogg, B-Real, Redman & Method Man, June 2014 

Dubbed Mount Kushmore, Mark Mann took the photos of these four rap titans and Bianca Barnhill wrote the story. This was Snoop's fourth and last appearance on the cover, B-Real's third and Red and Meth's second each. 

Wiz Khalifa, August 2016

The Pittsburgh rapper got his own cover holding a live plant with photos by David Lee Dailey and story by Drew Millard.

August 2016

I left High Times in 2007. It's hard to track all of the High Times issues published since then (they stopped printing the mag this year). Buit I don't think I missed any hip-hop covers. The total remains at 14.

I'm proud to have been part of the period in High Times' history when closing the racial divide in cannabis was an imperative. Mission accomplished. Happy Hip-Hop 50 to those who celebrate!


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.