Albums to get high to, volume III. Graphic by Ryan Kamber.
Welcome to Volume III of hiTunes, where we take a look at some of the best albums to listen to while using cannabis.
As we’ve said before, we want to represent music from all ages, genders, and walks of life. That’s why this week we’re putting a spotlight on female artists.
As a quick refresher for anyone who hasn’t read our first or second 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 1968’s Aretha Now. The inclusion of this project signifies that the rest of the list will be devoid of any soul music or albums from the 1960s.
3. One Album Per Artist
This is pretty self explanatory. Aretha Franklin’s appearance here means that she 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.
Let’s tune in.
hiTunes Playlist, Volume III
Aretha Now – Aretha Franklin (1968)
With a biopic coming out on August 13th, we figured we’d pay a little Respect to the Queen of Soul.
Mixing the sounds of Motown, gospel, and R&B, Aretha Franklin was one of the most influential voices of the civil rights era. This late icon released over 30 studio albums, so we’re keeping it simple with Aretha Now.
Aretha Now is the perfect introduction to Franklin’s groundbreaking sound that would go on to inspire genres like funk and disco. This 1968 project utilizes a multitude of different instruments that work together to create a sassy, yet welcoming vibe that permeates the track length.
This variety of sound can take the form of a heavy brass section like on the funky You’re a Sweet Sweet Man; a lively piano on See Saw and Night Time Is the Right Time; or a gospel choir on tracks like I Take What I Want. The project’s first two tracks, Think and I Say a Little Prayer are among the most essential cuts in Franklin’s entire discography.
Is Aretha Now a traditional smoking album? No. But it’s still worth exploring. Don’t be on the Chain of Fools that pass this album up.
Favorite Tracks: I Say a Little Prayer, See Saw, A Change, You’re a Sweet Sweet Man, I Take What I Want
Parallelograms – Linda Perhacs (1970)
To truly appreciate this cult classic, one must first learn the story behind it.
Linda Perhacs was a Beverly Hills dental hygienist in the 1960s who wrote songs on the side. One client, a composer, heard her demo tape and brought her into the studio, reports NPR. When the final product received no commercial attention, Perhacs went back to cleaning teeth.
In 2000 she found out Parallelograms had developed a fanbase thanks to a low-quality reissue. Long story short, Perhacs supplied a tape of her own and it was remastered and re-released.
This project has aged like fine wine. It offers a much more bareboned and folky approach to the grandiose psychedelic rock that was being played at the time of its release.
The title track features two soft guitar sections that bookend a trippy, sedating middle segment with flutes, chimes, and echoing voices that put the listener in a trance. Paper Mountain Man is a cut complete with twangy guitars and a prevalent harmonica section, giving it a rough around the edges feel straight out of a spaghetti western.
It took a while for the public to shape up and appreciate Parallelograms. But it’s nice to see Perhacs get the recognition she deserves.
Favorite Tracks: Parallelograms, Paper Mountain Man, Moons and Cattails, Call Of The River, Morning Colors
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Ms. Lauryn Hill (1998)
After making a name for herself with the Fugees, Lauryn Noelle Hill declared her independence with one solo project in 1998. She then virtually dropped off of the face of the earth.
Earlier this year, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill became the first-ever hip-hop album by a female artist to receive diamond certification. That’s all well and good, but does an artist with just one solo project have any business occupying the same list as legendary acts like Tupac and Outkast? Hell yes it does.
Yet another album in our hiTunes series that has something for everyone, this project was so influential that we still hear it in the music we listen to today. Miseducation masterfully incorporates genres like reggae and soul into a sonic adventure like no other.
The less mainstream tunes shine as well. To Zion not only showcases Hill’s otherworldly vocal talents, but features the incomparable Carlos Santana incorporating his brand of Latin Rock into the track. Then, there’s Every Ghetto, Every City — a funky cut that sees Hill channel sounds of Stevie Wonder.
There are only so many ways we can praise this project. So hit play and pay attention. Class is in session.
Favorite Tracks: Lost Ones, To Zion, Every Ghetto, Every City, Everything is Everything, Superstar
ON – Tasmin Archer (2006)
There are hidden gems, there are deep cuts, and then there is ON by Tasmin Archer. Released in 2006, the project’s most well-known track has logged just over 15,000 plays on Spotify.
This English pop singer rose to prominence in the early 1990s. Her debut album, 1992’s Great Expectations, got a good amount of attention thanks to the album’s lead single, Sleeping Sattelite. Similar to Ms. Lauryn Hill, Archer virtually vanished from the public eye afterwards.
Unlike Hill, Archer has put out a number of solid projects since her breakout LP. But unfortunately, she was never able to duplicate the commercial success of Great Expectations.
That said, ON, proves that commercial success isn’t always the best indicator of a project’s overall quality. Perfect for a rainy day, Archer is able to create a lowkey aesthetic with minimalistic but captivating production.
Violence was a standout track for us. Archer’s bluesy vocals perfectly complement the acoustic guitar and light snare drums that serve as the backbone of the instrumental. Complaints is slightly more upbeat, as Archer softly croons over pianos and organs.
This forgotten relic of the early 2000s deserves much more recognition. Don’t believe us? Throw it ON and find out.
Favorite Tracks: A Day Will Come, Violence, Complaints, Take Care, Effect is Monotony
Isolation – Kali Uchis (2018)
We’ve been looking hard for the right word to describe this Colombian-American’s debut LP, yet the term we keep landing on is “wavy.” Good enough.
On Isolation, Kali Uchis creates her own realm that welcomes the listener to lose themselves in densely layered instrumentals and a sunny overall tone. While an R&B album at its core, Uchis borrows from genres such as reggaeton, funk, and bedroom pop to make Isolation an eclectic experience that is both compelling and intoxicating.
Miami is a hip-hop-influenced cut that includes impressive vocals from Uchis, a quality verse from California rapper BIA, and a sinister guitar-filled instrumental. Just A Stranger is an absolute bop that boasts one of the most infectious hooks in recent memory.
Flight 22 sounds exactly like its title suggests, utilizing a gorgeous slow-burn beat that makes the listener feel like they’re floating. In My Dreams is an upbeat jam that sounds like it could be the title sequence of a teen movie. Feel Like A Fool is a soulful and heartbreaking track about details of an affair coming to light.
This project is a diamond in the rough that’s spent way too much time in Isolation. Let’s change that.
Favorite Tracks: Miami, Just a Stranger, After the Storm, In My Dreams, Flight 22
Got any suggestions? If you have an album you’d like us to listen to, leave a comment below!
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