From songs of the 60s and 70s to hip-hop, pop, jazz and punk, cannabis use has its footprints in the world of music. Yet weed also features heavily in movies and even games. Our artistic staff has put together this diverse list of our favorite music, movies, and more that come to mind when we think about the intersection of art and cannabis.
“Dummy” by Portishead – Kai W. Li
‘Dummy’, Portishead’s seminal trip-hop record, is so evocative of haze and silent hallucination that I can only listen to it while inebriated and out of my element – like I’m letting Beth Gibbons her. -even whisper and fall asleep in my head like a syringe pushing through blood. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this record is from 1994. It seems suspended in time and still crawls in a remote part of my memory. Each track seems driven by vague and constant impulses. Gibbons voice is vaporous and diaphanous, like a curtain. The guitars moan behind the distortions. That’s what I suspect it’s like to look at the world under a cold, slightly numb, slightly dissociated membrane. That’s why the heartache and sadness on this record aren’t sentimental but rather shatter beneath you, engulfing you.
“The Weeding Process” by Black Flag – Drake White-Bergey
Black Flag’s “The Process of Weeding Out” is the best and most comprehensive realization of Greg Ginn’s atonal, dissonant, and free-form guitar work.
Ginn’s free-jazz guitar propels the album home. For 27 minutes, Greg Ginn seems to lose control of his guitar. Instead, any sense of rhythm or melody is replaced with complete and utter chaos.
The thing is, complete and utter chaos works.
Ginn proves on “The Process of Weeding Out” that he is a master of freeform jazz. In fact, this EP is perhaps the best punk-jazz hybrid that has ever existed. It was the culmination of Black Flag’s experimentation with jazz, and nothing that happened after that exceeded the expectations set by him. Not to mention that the title of the EP refers to the massive amounts of weed Ginn was smoking at this point in her career.
“The Big Lebowski” directed by Ethan and Joel Coen – Shu Lan Schaut
For years, audiences have hailed The Big Lebowski — a chaotic, loosely scattered plot highlighted by psychedelic dream sequences, idiosyncratic characters, and dark comedy — as a cult classic.
The film tells the story of stoner Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, his urine-stained carpet, and a case of mistaken identity between him and philanthropist Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski. The wild, drug-soaked jaunt that followed around seedy Los Angeles entertained viewers for decades with its variety of eccentric characters, including porn kingpins and German nihilists.
It’s hard to characterize “The Big Lebowski” as anything in particular; it is both insignificant and all at the same time: A cultural phenomenon. A religion. A lifestyle. Still, “The Big Lebowski” immortalized The Dude because he inspired generations of fans to step back, relax, and stay.
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“Addiction by Smoke DZA — Seamus Rohrer
In 2009, Smoke DZA wrote perhaps the best weed tribute in three minutes and 30 seconds. “Substance Abuse” turns a sample of Jackson 5 into a funky, fuzzy lettuce love letter from Lucifer. This is easily one of the greatest weed rap songs of all time. For proof, look no further than the following lyrics:
“Magic dragon, because all I do is blow.”
“Damn, I’m so fucking high, I saw a moon man.”
“Barak Oskama come and smoke with the friends.”
“And I admit that I have a problem.”
“Hieroglyph, light more piff.”
“I roll Louisville sluggers, n- fight.”
“Endtroducing” by DJ Shadow — Kai W. Li
DJ Shadow’s 1996 instrumental hip-hop record hits and beats you like a locomotive with its internal beat. Some tracks like “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” and “Midnight in a Perfect World” sound almost occult and hauntingly beautiful. I find myself spinning in the center of their sound – bewitched and vulnerable.
DJ Shadow’s output feels like it’s constantly on the edge of hip-hop embodiment – pushing it, electrifying it, tugging it nostalgic or tributary. Some of the sound on the record has aged a bit, but that’s probably why I even listen to it at all. It’s like I’m rummaging through the aisles and aisles of music in the record store, nodding, ready to go home to smoke and put on a worn monument of the past.
“Mellow Gold” by Beck – Ace Filter
You may have heard of Beck’s signature song “Loser,” but the artist has so much more to offer than sing-along lyrics about putting yourself down (which was taken on a date and turned into signature lyrics of “one of the greatest songs of all time”). Her album “Mellow Gold” is a journey and a half for listeners. Beck himself described the album’s vibes using words such as “satanic” and added that “someone tried to smoke it”. Sounds perfect for an album to get high on.
The dissociation that accompanies listening to this album is twofold for me. The songs themselves carry such an air of laxity that ranges from the slow-swaying “Blackhole” to the ear-destroying, brain-twisting “Analog Odyssey”. Whether you’re looking for a song to sit back and relax or something to bring your eyes back to your head, “Mellow Gold” has you covered.
“Marijuana” by Kid Cudi – Matthew Neschis
Kid Cudi – the self-proclaimed “lonely stoner” – was pretty blunt when titled his 2010 ode to cannabis.
The track “Marijuana”, which is appropriately four minutes and 20 seconds long, expresses Cudi’s will complex relationship with Devil’s Lettuce and his inability to resist the temptations of the pretty green bud. A hushed, euphonic chorus is perfectly juxtaposed with a guitar solo from Dot da Genius, plunging listeners into a trance-like state they’re unable to break away from until Cudi utters the words “and 4:20” on the end of the song.
The Musical clip, shot and directed by Shia LaBeouf, follows Cudi as he travels through Amsterdam exploring the city’s abundant assortment of weeds. Shortly after serving as a judge for the High Times Cannabis Cup, Cudi goes to a cafe, lights up her hotel room, and walks through the red-light district. The entire video is shot with LaBeouf’s 8mm and 16mm cameras, providing a vintage aesthetic.
“One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer & Shipley – Sylvia Miller
Brewer & Shipley’s 1970s hit, “One Toke Over the Line,” showcases the joys of marijuana smoking in an upbeat tune. This song originated and gained popularity in the early 1970s, an era of anti-war protest in the form of declarations of “peace and love” and accompanying marijuana use. The relatable song boasts an upbeat and fun tune that instills an unrelenting desire to dance.
The choir sings “I want to be a toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line”, as a proclamation that they want to cross that threshold.
The phrase “one hit over the line” refers to the experience of taking too many hits or “hits” and – getting a little too stoned to function.
A scene from “That 70s Show” comes to mind. What happens when Mr. and Mrs. Forman fall asleep and the camera pans around the room, showing each character’s face and laughter in Eric’s basement? The band succumbed to the joys of marijuana, and perhaps the best giggles come when they’re “One Toke Over the Line.”
“Everything” by David OReilly – Jeffrey Brown
When I think of playing video games in a chemically affected mental state, I think of “Everything”.
The first thing to understand is that there is no goal in this game. The player starts as a sheep that can roll in any direction. Soon they are taught to create a herd if they wish. When they’ve gathered a large enough herd, they can make the animals dance in spellbinding patterns with the press of a button.
The player can also switch to any creature or object they encounter in their aimless wanderings, with these options becoming both very large and very small. For example, you can choose to grow from a sheep, to a tree, to a rock, to an island, and eventually to a planet. Or you can go the other way and work through the world of insects to the microscopic and even to the atomic.
If that doesn’t sound stoner enough, there are always audio clips the player can choose to listen to. These are excerpts from what appears to be a man with a British accent giving a lecture on the meaning of life and the nature of existence.
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Jeffrey Brown is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal and an occasional writer for the Beet. He is a graduate in sociology and holds a certificate in African-American studies.
Drake White-Bergey is the Daily Cardinal’s photo editor. You can follow him on Instagram at @drakewb437 and on Twitter at @dwhite437.