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via Jesse Serwer
When I interviewed Just-Ice about his classic ‘86 debut, Back to the Old School, for XXL recently, I asked him about his use of the term “blunts” in the track “Little Bad Johnny”—the first such mention in any rap song. His response was a detailed account of the evolution of every rapper’s favorite weedsmoking instrument. Naturally, this tangent didn’t make the piece, but I thought those interested in New York lore might appreciate Just’s breakdown of how the Jamaican practice of smoking weed out of large, hollowed-out tobacco leaves (known as “fronto leafs”) evolved into an NYC ‘hood staple and, eventually, an ubiquitous rap talking point.
“The reason why a cigar is called a blunt is very simple. If you’re old enough, you should remember El Productos. That is the original blunt. Besides a fronto leaf, cause a fronto leaf was always here. Truth is people just couldn’t get a hold of those unless you were Jamaican. So what you used to do is go to the store, get a tray bag of weed and an El Producto blunt. And you would unwrap them like a leaf and then you would put your weed in there and roll it back up.
El Producto blunts, they went out of business in I think ‘85, ‘86. After the El Producto blunt, ’cause that was a strong ass cigar, a lot of people couldn’t take the pressure in they chest from the weed and the cigar. So El Producto created a new cigar called the Fino. That’s after the blunt. So that was a little lighter tasting. ‘Cause blunt actually means harsh. Now, a lot of people wasn’t skilled enough to unwrap the Fino and rewrap it over correctly, so they started smoking Phillies. With Phillies, all you had to do was split them open, put the weed in and roll it up. But a lot of people who smoked weed didn’t like Phillies, ’cause it burned too fast. Then we left the Phillies…Oh shit, my food’s burning, hold on… Continue reading