Touting the merits of harmony and hedonism, the Kottonmouth Kings bring their hardcore rap/metal to Lawrence in a cloud of smoke.

One Toke Over the Line 

Touting the merits of harmony and hedonism, the Kottonmouth Kings bring their hardcore rap/metal to Lawrence in a cloud of smoke.

"I know the interview is scheduled for 11 a.m., but Brad Daddy X is currently MIA," an unknown publicist's assistant says from her office in greater Los Angeles. "Actually, he's usually difficult to get ahold of. When we need them to come into the office, we usually tell them the appointment is an hour earlier just to get them to show up at a reasonable time."

It's not so surprising that Brad Daddy X is unlocatable. He's the producing Svengali behind the SoCal pioneers of pimped-out punk rap, the Kottonmouth Kings. And if the name doesn't give it all away, his bandmates champion the legalization of marijuana. The first thing experts say is lost while under the influence of marijuana is your short-term memory. If the albums and interviews are to be believed, then Daddy X might have forgotten where he parked the car, where he lives, or even his own name.

"I found him," the publicist's assistant exclaims four and a half hours later. "I'm really sorry," offers a genuinely apologetic Daddy X. "I was at the farmers' market picking up some fresh produce before I hit the road." It might be slang or a euphemism -- those of us over the age of 25 can never be too sure these days -- but he presses the point. "I just hate touring sometimes because it's really hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables. When you're in a band on the road, you exist on greasy spoons and fast food. It's a completely unhealthy existence, and I thought I'd sort of preload my system with tons of fresh, natural foods before I put my body through hell for a month."

Despite the seemingly innocent intentions of this health kick in preparation for a 33-city tour that spans from Albuquerque to Syracuse, it's not a simple thing to trust the Kottonmouth Kings. By their own admission, they spend a colossal amount of time under the influence of that peculiar leafy plant currently on the DEA's most-wanted list. It's their raison d'être. It's practically their muse.

The Kottonmouth Kings' first and second albums, Royal Highness and High Society, are chronically themed. Nearly every recorded track in the band's history has at least one reference to pot, cannabis, weed, getting stoned, and the like. The band's smoke-swathed Web site (www.kottonmouthkings.com) allows you to send an interactive postcard known as a Stonergram. Along with fellow rappers Cypress Hill, the group is positioning itself to be a major player in the fight to legalize marijuana and to worship it in copious quantities despite current regulations. So when Daddy X goes missing for nearly five hours, the mind fills with dubious scenarios of drug deals gone bad, incarceration, or simply an excuse to rent the movie Half Baked.

"No," Daddy X laughs, "I wasn't out getting stoned. I really was buying some fresh veggies. I know that probably doesn't fit in with my media image, but that's just tough. Nobody can spend their entire lives under the influence. Not that I haven't known people who've tried at one point or another, but long-term chronic addictive use can really mess you up after a while."

When quizzed about the band's dedication to all things marijuana-related, Daddy X comes out of his defensive I'm-being-interviewed mode and begins to sound like a born-again preacher -- a blunted bishop of brotherly love and a soldier dedicated to freeing the weed for all of mankind.

"We believe that, first of all, marijuana is a plant," begins Daddy X's sermon. "It's a plant that was put here by the Creator. It's been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Like a tree or a bush, it has pretty deep roots here on planet Earth. Any government regulation or police control of nature just seems silly. It was here before we were; how can we just go and declare nature illegal?"

Daddy X's rant also includes a subtle call for civil disobedience: "The Kottonmouth Kings believe that we need to overthrow the silly regulations and redefine Americans' personal freedoms. As a band, we believe that everyone has choices -- whether or not to use the plant. Because even if marijuana and personal freedom isn't something you are particularly concerned with, pretty soon they will be telling you that you can no longer have football because it's too violent, or you can no longer drink beer or coffee or whatever. It's about personal rights and freedom. For any government to step in and limit your personal freedom is wrong. We believe in adhering to the spiritual and universal laws of the Creator."

Another sign of chronic drug use, according to many medical experts, is paranoia. Daddy X never goes off into a delusional screed of governmental conspiracies, but still, from pot to football?

"The government would like you to believe that they give you freedom of speech," he continues. "We think that the government is silly. The Creator gave you a mind and a mouth to speak. We believe that the governmental concept of borders is perhaps the beginning of all our problems. The bottom line is, you are a human being and this is planet Earth, your home. Respect your fellow brother. Everyone is a sacred being of life; everyone has a purpose here on Earth; no one is any better than anyone else. That's what the Kottonmouth Kings are about."

But what about the band? Where does it fit into this picture? How can the Kottonmouth Kings' music thwart governmental hypocrisy and change the world? These are good questions. Daddy X might or might not have all the answers.

"The Kottonmouth Kings and our label, Suburban Noize, are all about breaking down barriers and borders," he says. "When we started, we were a group of guys from all over California. We were putting on raves and promoting bands with a couple of different production companies. The band came together as sort of a fun gig for all of us, and we all brought different things to the table. We've got roots in the Orange County punk rock scene; we've got some techno flavor; we've got hip-hop, rap, rock, and metal all stewing in their own juices -- all a part of the Kottonmouth Kings' style and sound. Our music breaks down the musical walls; it unites different worlds of sound. We hope to lead by example.

"So far, it's been working. Our debut album (for Capitol Records) is nearing 300,000 units sold, and it has been in the top 200 album-sales chart for over 50 weeks. People are still discovering the band and our message. Even now, nearly three years after its release, we have a song off the album still being highly requested on the Box video music channel. Our message is getting through to the people who will eventually help us to change the world for the better: the nation's youth. They are the future leaders of the world, and they are the ones who are discovering and championing the Kottonmouth Kings' message."

The latest album, High Society, looks to further expand the band's converted zealots, er ... fan club. With such guests as punk pioneer Jack Grisham from TSOL, Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, and the Insane Clown Posse lending a hand, the Kottonmouth Kings' particular message is sure to spread like the weed they so reverently support.

"I think the new album will really help us get the word out," claims Daddy X. "We've built everything we have from the streets, but now we have a following, we have a high-profile second album, and we have several tour dates scheduled to bring it all to the people. 2000 is the year of the Kottonmouth Kings. 2000 is the year we start to set the weed free."

Kottonmouth Kingswith Corporate Avenger, Zebrahead, and Pimpadelic
Thursday, July 6
at The Bottleneck

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