Welcome to Volume II of hiTunes, where we take a look at some of the best albums to listen to while using cannabis.
The goal of this project has always been to represent music from all ages, genders, and walks of life. That’s why this week we’re putting a special focus on minority artists.
As a quick refresher for anyone who hasn’t read our first installation, here are the parameters we’ve set for ourselves:
1. No Super Obvious Picks
Apologies to fans of projects like The Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt Peppers, and The Chronic. But this is not that kind of list. While we’re big fans of these albums, it’s not exactly “breaking news” that they’re great to smoke to.
2. Genre and Decade Variation
In an effort to widen this series’ universal appeal, each article will only include one album per decade and genre. For example, this piece leads off with 1969’s Santana. The inclusion of this project signifies that the rest of the list will be devoid of any psychedelic rock or albums from the 1960s.
3. One Album Per Artist
This is pretty self explanatory. Santana’s appearance here means that they won’t appear on the playlists for the rest of the summer. Each article will be accompanied by a playlist featuring highlights of the albums listed as well as tracks from projects that didn’t make the cut.
Time to drop the needle:
hiTunes Playlist, Volume II
Santana – Santana (1969)
We’re beginning this week’s list by taking it south of the border. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Carlos Santana broke boundaries by composing some exceptional pieces of psychedelic rock, while adding his own Latin flare.
The argument can certainly be made to put Santana’s 1970 effort, Abraxas, in this spot. But we decided to go with their self titled 1969 debut. Santana is made up of mostly instrumentals. With a run time under 37 minutes, no song overstays its welcome.
Bongo pounding melodies like Waiting and Soul Sacrifice play like a chaotic sprint through the Mexican jungle. Evil Ways, one of the few tracks that feature vocals, utilizes a slow burning beat composed of guitars, an organ, a cowbell, and a guiro.
Treat is a song that completely subverts expectations. It starts as lethargic and piano heavy before picking up around the 1:04 mark. The piano speeds up and Santana and his guitar steal the show. Everything comes to a halt around the 3:20 mark, as another plodding piano section acts as a bookend.
Santana is a psychedelic odyssey that serves as a love letter to its namesake’s heritage. It is a must-listen for any stoner or psychedelic rock buff.
Favorite Tracks: Evil Ways, Soul Sacrifice, Treat, Persuasion, Jingo
Heart of The Congos – The Congos (1977)
Apologies to Bob Marley fans, but he’s another artist who seemed a little too easy to put here. That said, Reggae lovers need not be disappointed. Heart of the Congos fills this slot quite nicely.
The Congos were able to combine the sounds of Reggae, Doo-wop, and what would eventually evolve into Ska into a resonance that was uniquely their own. These Jamaican crooners create a tropical and laid back sound to enhance any session.
Fisherman, the album’s opener, is a five minute and twenty-eight-second stroll through a tropical getaway. This cut details a simple island that has yet to fully advance technologically. Another lighthearted track that provides sunny vibes is La La Bam-Bam, which features biblical references and a carefree tone that is guaranteed to help any listener kick back and relax.
The Congos really shine through their harmonies. Vocalist Cedric Myton was a highlight for us, as his falsetto is complimented perfectly by the tenor and baritone of his bandmates. Their voices put together give off a strong Motown type of energy.
Heart of the Congos is a fantastic introduction to Reggae for the uninitiated, proving that there’s no better time than island time.
Favorite Tracks: Fisherman, La La Bam-Bam, Sodom & Gomorrow, Children Crying, Solid Foundation
Let Love Rule – Lenny Kravitz (1989)
Our first entry from the 1980s comes at the decade’s tail end, when 25-year-old Lenny Kravitz made his studio debut.
Let Love Rule paid homage to Black artists of the past, while also offering its listeners a sneak peak of what the future would bring. This is yet another project that finds a way to conjure a melting pot of different genres with nothing feeling out of place.
My Precious Love is a bluesy and brass-laden song that sees Kravitz’s howls resemble the wailing of the late Godfather of Soul James Brown. Mr. Cab Driver, a song about racial profiling, features a 1950s type of guitar riff that invokes the sounds of Rock and Roll icon Chuck Berry. The album’s closer, Flower Child, is a psychedelic rock-influenced tune that sounds like something off of a Jimi Hendrix project.
One last highlight is Does Anybody Out There Even Care. This melancholy track preaches the importance of unity and activism, seeming as relevant today as it did 32 years ago.
We can’t say enough good things about Let Love Rule, but don’t take our word for it. Throw it in the queue, “and spread a little love and get high.”
Favorite Tracks: Be, Rosemary, Does Anybody Out There Even Care, Freedom Train, Fear
COWBOY BEBOP (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – SEATBELTS (1998)
Didn’t expect to see a jazzy anime soundtrack here? Neither did we.
Jazz and cannabis have been tied together for over a century now. Legendary pioneers like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday often partook to improve their improvisation.
This is not an average stoner album. It’s not an average jazz album either. Produced by Japanese ensemble SEATBELTS, COWBOY BEBOP is able to carefully walk the tightrope between chaotic and minimalistic.
The beginning of the soundtrack is fast-paced and strategically disjointed sounding. Tank! begins with an in-your-face horn section sounding straight out of a 1960s spy flick. Bad Dog No Biscuits is another speedy jazz number that incorporates horns, barking dogs, and even a bit of Ska.
One of the album’s calmer tracks is Space Lion, a transcendent instrumental highlighted by a majestic saxophone solo, heavenly background vocals, and tribal-sounding percussion. The intimate Spokey Dokey includes just a harmonica and acoustic guitar, giving off a down-home, country feel.
SEATBELTS are able to harken back to a time when the music industry was dominated by big band titans like Frank Sinatra. We recommend this unorthodox selection to any smoke circle feeling the need to switch it up.
Favorite Tracks: Space Lion, Spokey Dokey, Waltz For Zizi, Cat Blues, Pot City
Flower Boy – Tyler, the Creator (2017)
Life is funny sometimes; take Tyler, the Creator for example. After years of scathing accusations of homophobia due to vulgar lyrics, Tyler now stands as one of the few prominent LGBTQIA+ artists in hip hop. Flower Boy is seen by many as his coming out party, both literally and figuratively. Written and produced by Okonma himself, this modern masterpiece shattered all preconceived notions of what a Tyler, the Creator project could be.
With lush instrumentals backing each track, it’s easy to get lost in the world that Tyler creates. Between the layered string section on songs like See You Again, the hypnotizing guitar chords on Garden Shed, and the heavenly sounding bells on tracks such as Glitter, this album’s production is enough to make listeners melt into their seats.
Those who care more about lyrical content than the beat should be just as satisfied. Flower Boy is rich in narrative and features poignant commentary on topics such as racial identity, sexuality, and loneliness.
This album has something for everyone with quality guest appearances from the likes of Frank Ocean, Lil Wayne, and Rex Orange County. Flower Boy is late 2010s hip hop in full bloom, don’t miss out on this one.
Favorite Tracks: Garden Shed, Where This Flower Blooms, Boredom, 911/Mr. Lonely, See You Again
Got any suggestions? If you have an album you’d like us to listen to, leave a comment below!
Never would’ve expected to see an anime soundtrack on here but you couldn’t have picked a better one to choose!!
Really captured a variety of music! Great listening…informative article, including interesting facts about these artists…took some great research. Favorites…flower boy; of course, Santana, Jimmy Hendrix. Loved Super Rich Kids (had not heard this until now). Really entertaining…keep up the great work.
Gregory D Eastman Jr says
Robin Trower— Bridge of Sighs