To avoid censorship on the radio dial, many artists will make lyrical changes to a single, which typically involves taking out profanity. Two major radio hits—both released in 2005—made major changes for a different reason. These radio hits made changes to take out cannabis references.
Sean Paul – “We Be Burnin”
Jamaican dancehall artist Sean Paul scored an international hit with “We Be Burnin,” which reached No. 6 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the U.K. The original version—sometimes differentiated with “(Legalize It)” in the title—is a full-blown cannabis anthem with references to “trees,” “herb,” “weed,” “pot,” “purple haze” and a chorus that proves it’s not Pottery Barn incense he’s burnin’. None of that appears in the radio version found here. As you’ll notice, the opening line, “Just gimme the trees and mek we smoke it yo” changed to, “Just gimme the gees and we be clubbin’ yo.” Worse still, the line “Herb are the healing of the nation, legalize it right now, we wanna blaze one” got cleaned up as, “First class ticket invitation, girls from New York, England and Jamaican.” The “legalize it” version is obviously much, much cooler.
Three 6 Mafia – “Stay Fly”
Three 6 Mafia cracked the Top 20 pop chart just once, and the Memphis rappers did it with the double-platinum “Stay Fly” peaking at No. 13. The original title, however, is “Stay High.” To their credit, the group only changed the title, not the lyrics. Even as “Stay Fly,” the song talks extensively about cannabis and purple drank with lyrics like, “Breaking down the good green, rolling the blunt,” “Smoke all night, sleep all day, that’s the epitome of the American way” and “Roll that shit, light that shit, hit that shit, hold that shit, blow that shit out slow, then pass it to me, bro.” In being able to get lyrics like this on the radio, Triple 6 definitely gets a pass on changing the song title.