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Salt Lake's 420 Festival about enlightenment, not weed

Published April 19, 2013 11:44 am

40 Fest • Hip-hop acts that avoid drug culture define event.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On Saturday, The Gallivan Center will host the Elevated Minds 420 Fest — and it's legal.

Pronounced "Four-twenty," the nationwide "holiday" celebrates marijuana culture. The cannabis magazine High Times once called 4:20 p.m. the perfect time to smoke weed.

Through the years, the number has permeated pop culture: All the clocks in the 1994 Oscar-winning movie "Pulp Fiction" are set to 4:20. In 2003, when the California Legislature legalized medical marijuana, the bill was named SB420. And on Craigslist, people have been known to post requests for "420-friendly" roommates.

Make Mind, the promoter of the event, realizes it is in conservative Utah and has put together a lineup full of hip-hop acts not associated with drug culture. "We want to show people rappers who are about elevated consciousness," said Deyshawn Chapman of Make Mind.

Conrad Klooster, also of Make Mind, said that while raves are often accompanied by a liberal use of drugs, this one-day festival is more about "enlightenment" than getting high.

The main attractions include:

• The reunited East Coast duo Mobb Deep.

• Talib Kweli, best known for his Black Star collaboration with Mos Def.

• Common Market, an ensemble from the same Seattle underground scene that spawned Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

• Binary Star, the on-again, off-again duo that created underground hip-hop legend Masters of the Universe.

• The Chicharones, a Portland, Ore.-based duo known as one of the best live acts in hip-hop.

The Chicharones are Josh Martinez and Sleep, the latter best known for his work in the Pacific Northwest hip-hop collective Oldominion. Now that Martinez has moved to Portland, the bandmates are working on more music together. Until "Swine Flew" came out in 2012, the pair hadn't made a full-length album since 2005's "When Pigs Fly."

Social justice and comedy fuel this duo.

"[Martinez] tapped into my goofy side," said Sleep in a recent telephone interview. "Oldominion is serious, and the music is taken very seriously. I gravitated to [Martinez's] lightheartedness."

The fun, life-affirming music of The Chicharones comes as a response to personal woes, Sleep said. His brother's wife was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he has dealt with other loss. "I've been reaching for the positive because it is the only thing that keeps the doom and gloom from engulfing me," he said.

Chapman, with Make Mind, also will take the stage Saturday, under his stage name DopeThought. He also is a member of DropInOcean, also performing Saturday.

Chapman said that while he has smoked weed in the past, he is more interested — as his stage name suggests — in promoting the release of dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the body that provides feelings of enjoyment. He sees his music, which incorporates trap beats, as progressive and meant to instill positivity.

Those fighting the legalization of marijuana point to studies that suggest that long-term use of cannabis can cause or contribute to the development of heart disease, bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia.

So maybe we should all just stick to music for dopamine.


Elevated Minds 420 Fest

With Mobb Deep, Talib Kweli, Phora, Clear Soul Forces, Chicharones, Binary Star, Common Market, DopeThought, more.

When • Saturday, April 20, noon to 10 p.m.

Where • Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City

Tickets • $35 in advance, $40 day of, at SmithsTix

More info • The festival will also feature snowboard, ski and emcee battles.