It’s no coincidence that Jamal Gasol and DirtyDiggs released “100 Blunts in Venice” on April 20, 2020. 4:20 is the unofficial time of day to get high, and 4/20 is the unofficial Smokers’ Holiday. Not only does the album’s title make their modus operandi clear, the animated video introducing their release copious amounts of marijuana being consumed, whether on the street or behind the wheel of a car. Naturally a lot of “munchies” are the result of this smoked out session, with everything from El Pollo Loco to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles making a cameo in the clip.
Now it’s always 4:20 somewhere in the world, so there’s no reason we have to base a review on the calendar date, but we do have to acknowledge the reasons for the strategic release and the motives of the artists involved. I’ve often stated that we shouldn’t expect actors to be the people they portray in movies in real life, and it’s no different for rappers, singers, comedians or pro wrestlers. On the other hand I have no reason to believe Niagara Falls, NY rapper Jamal Gasol doesn’t enjoy blunts as much as the protagonist he portrays on “100 Blunts in Venice.” DirtyDiggs enhances the presentation by sampling from David Peel & The Lower East Side’s “I Like Marijuana.”
The sad part is they didn’t even use the funniest line: “Make me President, and I promise you, A POT IN EVERY CHICKEN.” Anyway in case you didn’t pick up on this part of the title yet, “100 Blunts in Venice” was not a trip to Italy. Gasol flew out to Venice, California (presumably before the pandemic) to record with Diggs, and this five track EP was the result. If you’re already going to be in Cali anyway you might as well enjoy some “Cookies” with Planet Asia, knahmean?
Gasol is not a complicated dude — or at least the character he represents on this song (and album) is not. “More green than Grove Street, big smoke.” I’m sure they rolled far more than a hundred blunts while recording this one. Diggs’ production has a very Alchemist sound on “Cookies.” It’s low, slow, slightly eerie and mesmerizing. If Diggs wasn’t trying to emulate him, it’s at least fair to say he took inspiration from the Cali greats that came before him. Things end where they started with a blunted finale on “Fiesta O.G.”
“100 Blunts in Venice” doesn’t expand beyond its basic premise any more than the cloud of blunt smoke expands beyond a hotbox’d car with power windows. That shit’s only going to breathe when you want it to, and if you’re not more picky about your listening material than you are picking stems and seeds out of your weed, it’s going to do the job for you. I can’t knock Diggs or Gasol for doing exactly what they set out to do here, but I also can’t help noticing the untapped potential they have as a duo. This is an appetizer, not a meal.