The use of herbs as a means for benediction by way of burning, inhalation or both is a sacrament which dates back centuries in both monotheistic and panentheistic doctrines all over the world. From the burning of impepho in African cultural practice, to the smoking of cannabis in the Rastafarian and Hindu faiths – these are but a few examples which come top of mind at the mention of this belief.
It is a well-documented postulate as argued on the bases of biblical references such as Genesis 1: 29, Psalms 18:8, and Revelations 22:2 that he devotees of the Rastafarian faith eulogise the use of cannabis inducing feelings of “peace and love” in those taking it; and claims that it cultivates a form of personal introspection that allows the smoker to discover their inner divinity.
Taken off his album EGYPT, Ambitiouz Entertainment artist Priddy Ugly tackles this subject in a song called I Pray, in which he features his long term confidant Bontle Modiselle on vocal. True to the oxymoron in his stage name the song presents a dichotomy of interpretations.
On the one hand just like Maphorisa ft. Busiswa’s Starring was fast allotted the label of being the “side chick’s anthem.” For the detractors of the spliff sacrament, the song can quite easily come across as an anthem for the enablers in a relationship laced with substance abuse. Particularly if once considers the clear co-dependence between the voices in making sense of the need for this indulgence.
On the other hand, the song provides a voyeur’s glimpse into a tête-à-tête between two lovers, who are helping each other deal with what appears to be a stressful situation. And while the one lover tries to comfort her better half by offering them a smoke to “release the stress”, she soon reminds him of his neglect of devotion (chorus: I know you don’t need me to preach/ When last did you get on your knees/You haven’t been praying in weeks/).
Hence the tittle – I Pray.
The verses not only acknowledges the “smoke” as a means to achieve a feelings of “peace and love.” An outlet for escapism (verse: So I roll my jet/ Smoke my chest/ And hold my breath/Pray, let my soul project) An aphrodisiac (verse: Your tits look like the ocean view/Praying I hit, I got a boner too/A kiss will bring us closer boo/). And as a binding agent to solidify what is already a rock solid relationship (bridge: I pray, that you smoke with me/ I pray that you float with me/ Get on this boat with me/ While we listen to floetry/ Baby, I pray you smoke with me/ – sung in both voices).
The beauty of the song is in its suggestive nature without quite spelling anything out. Although they do say whatever they are smoking is able to make one relax (chorus: Baby smoke it releases the stress/ I know you been weak and depressed/ Curl up with your knees in your chest/ I know you been needing the rest/). Neither one of the singers ever mentions what it is that they are smoking. One might want to assume that it has properties to leave one inebriated (bridge: I pray, that you smoke with me/I pray that you float with me/) or at the very least hallucinating (bridge: Get on this boat with me/). Never once does the singer refer to the substance.
Admittedly the male voice refers to themselves as a “stoner” twice in the song (verse: Smoke my chest/And hold my breath/ Pray, let my soul project/ Watch a stoner flex/ & Legit I pray I smoke with you/ Admit that I’m a stoner too/) The use of the word stoner, suggests a habitual use of the substance. But then leaves you to you conclude what it is. Furthermore the lyrics never reference the use of the substance as a catalysts for benedictions, but instead uses the words I Pray almost to imply a wish, or hope or a desire. And therefore surreptitiously evaporates any kind of religious connotation, the composition might be accused of.
The song is sung to a neo-soul inspired beat produced by Ray kola ad Wichi 1080, which could have easily made it on an Antony Hamilton album, while the treatment of the voices is appropriate to the desired nostalgic mood the song endeavors to seduce. It is song picked from a body of work which spans over 15 tracks in an album tilted Everything Godly Yearns Patience & Time (acronym E.G.Y.P.T). An album which no doubt sounds like a piece of canvas cut from a bigger painting which fans would have to wait for more albums over this young man’s career to experience.
I will say this though, with Priddy Ugly, Ambitiouz Entertainment have signed not a rapper or an act, but an artist.