Members of Tupac Shakur's old band, Outlawz, responded to a long-standing rumor this week over how exactly they disposed of Tupac's ashes. Rumor is they smoked them after the funeral to honor a Tupac lyric, and Outlawz confirmed to VLADTV that yes, that's exactly what they did.
Yes, it's definitely true... Had a little memorial for him with his mum and his family. We had hit the beach, threw [in] a lot of sh*t he liked at the beach. Some weed, some chicken wings, he loved orange soda... Pac loved that kind of sh*t, so we were giving him our own farewell...If you listen to "Black Jesus," he said, "Last wishes, n*ggas smoke my ashes." That was a request that he had. Now, how serious he was about it? We took it serious.
In the spirit of taking it serious, let us consider the implications of human ash-ingestion. In terms of health ramifications, a one-time-human-ash joint is unlikely to be any more dangerous than anything else the Outlawz are smoking, according to Dr. Clifford Bassett, a New York City-based respiratory physician. But as with the other stuff, they shouldn't make it a habit. "Smoking any material that's not regulated is what we would call an unknown danger. It always increases your risk of having respiratory complications."
Increased risk probably doesn't hold as much weight among musicians as it might with, say, actuaries. And as far as establishing a tradition for the musical classes goes, precedent is on the Outlawz side; a year after Keith Richards told NME magazine he snorted a mixture of his dad's ashes and cocaine (Richard's publicist later said he was "kidding"), an Australian artist smoked what she claimed were Kurt Cobain's ashes. Neither Richards nor artist Natasha Stellmach elaborated on just how it'd feel to do the deed, but according to reports last year, a popular Thai drug made from Krathom leaf and human ash has "an indescribable and amazing taste which instantly becomes addictive."
Users of the Thai drug reportedly hunt down funerals to source ash, which they believe offer protection against the dead person's ghost. This is more generally known as exocannibalism - consuming the remains of someone outside one's own group. In contrast, Richards and the Outlawz performed endocannibalism, ingesting a friend. It's the kind of intimate after-death ritual that seems written for a magical native movie (the Thai drug's street name is actually "avatar," after the blockbuster) and indeed, according to The Encylopedia of Cremation, an Amazon tribe called the Yamomoto drink a soup sprinkled with the pulverized bone and teeth of their newly-deceased tribesmembers. If he or she was considered important (aka Tupac), the rest of the ashes are shared among a wider circle.
So should we be lighting up our dearly departed? In balance, the practice seems tailor-made for the modern artist looking to pay homage -- edgy, fantastical, just risky enough, plus a tribe in the jungle does it! Potential trend score: A+