The 2001 comedy “How High” is a classic of the stoner genre. Starring rappers Method Man and Redman as Silas and Jamal, they play average students who turn Ivy League. After smoking a special strain of marijuana, the two ace their college entrance exams and wind up at Harvard. Taking the college life in stride, when their supply of supernatural grade marijuana runs dry, the true hijinks begin.
Eighteen years — or a full generation — later, the franchise is being revived by Universal 1440 Entertainment, which naturally chose April 20 for its premiere on MTV. The hip-hop centric plot centers around best buds Roger, played by Lil Yachty, and Calvin, played by D.C. Young Fly, Atlanta “potrepreneurs” who go on “a magical weed-filled journey to fund their on-demand munchies delivery start-up.”
The movie features cameos by notable local personalities including rappers Lil Baby and Blac Youngsta, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast members NeNe Leakes and Cynthia Bailey and Justine Skye.
Atlanta figures behind the scenes, too. Quality Control, home to Migos, Lil Yachty, City Girls, founders Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas executive produce the film. And the movie’s top-shelf soundtrack includes such tracks as “Forever Young” by Lil Yachty featuring Diplo, “Stir Fry” by Migos, “100 Miles & Running” by Logic featuring Wale and John Lindahl.
Young Fly, whose real name is John Whitfield, started out as an MC in the Atlanta area, opening for Chris Brown’s 2017 The Party Tour. He later segued to music and acting and can next be seen in Lionsgate’s “Two Minutes of Fame,” Nick Cannon’s “She Ball,” Master P’s “I Got the Hook Up 2,” as well as a recurring role on ABC’s “Grown-ish.” More recently, he embarked on his own headlining standup tour, which stopped at the Savoy in Inglewood, Calif., last month where he sat with Variety.
What does “How High” mean to you?
It’s a culture. Me and Lil Yachty are helping to bridge the gap from the old generation and new generation. We’re trying to help broaden “How High” to our audience. It’s 2019. It’s been since 2001 when they dropped it, so 18 years of legacy. For them to say, “We want ya’ll to do it,” it’s a blessing.
How does it feel stepping into the shoes of Meth and Redman?
Those are the OGs who paved the way and it’s on us to carry the weight and make sure we keep [the legacy] alive — and we definitely kept it alive. But now that weed is legal, it’s a different way of thinking. It’s a different journey of smoking.
Weed was still taboo in 2001. Since it’s become decriminalized, does that take some of the fun away?
It don’t take none of the fun away. It’s beautiful! You can smoke weed in front of the police, I don’t see how that ain’t fun. Back where I’m from, you got to still smoke it in the house or in the yard. Ya’ll smoking freely out here, it’s just like “go get it.” ID, any store. All you gotta do is type in Yelp and it’ll pull up dispensaries. You know how many times they ask if I’m a first time shopper? Hell yeah, I ain’t from out here! Take my ID and sell me some weed! [Laughs]
Were you smoking actual marijuana during filming?
I was. I had to get high, f–k that. I definitely had to get high. But you can’t be too high [when there are lines to remember]. … I really had the munchies and they always had snacks on set. “How High 2” was just beautiful from the jump. We got high and did our thing.
You’re currently involved in four films. How do you balance comedy, acting and music?
I just stay prayed up. I try to find time to do one thing and do it to the best of my ability. You can’t put 70% into stuff; you’re not going to get the results you want. I make sure I put 100% in everything I do. I make a schedule for all my hustles. Ain’t no chill, I stay hustling at all times.