It took me a while to become a convert to rap music. But weed helped the transition in a big way. It emphasizes brash bass lines, and turns hip hop’s repetitive structure into a pleasant constancy.
Spliff tends to make everything sound good, and can be largely credited for psychedelic music taking off (with co-credit due to LSD). This shows that it’s really very clever of hip hop stars to associate their music with marijuana, because if someone’s always baked like a loaf of bread while listening to your tunes, chances are their experience will be improved. But I choose to believe that blunt-smoking hip hop stars are just spreading the good word that spliff and hip hop are a divine marriage, not tricking doped up minds like mine into liking their music….
The first time I realized that spliff and rap music go together like hot sauce and garlic bread was at a Cypress Hill concert. This is fitting, as the group pretty much invented stoner rap and come from California, where the weed is super scary hydropowerful, and has awesome names like Strawberry Cough and Alaskan Thunderfuck.
Cypress Hill were playing in a non-nanny state South American country that realizes stoners generally cause less of a nuisance than drunk people and coke heads. Countless houses and apartments grew their own sativa plants, living rooms and courtyards full of their splayed green fingers stretching towards the outline of the Andes. People in this city would smoke everywhere, including with their family or before class, allegedly to “improve focus”. Consistent spliff culture often is accompanied by a lot of listening to Bob Marley and Collie Budz, which sounds super stereotypical and lame, but in practice (if you’re stoned enough) is better than you would think. Cypress Hill, being a weed band, drew a miniature dank-smelling fog at their show. I remember giggling for an inordinately long time at the fact that the audience in a non-English speaking country where I daily struggled to make myself understood, all knew how to say “Smoke Weed Every Day” (disclaimer: Smoke Weed Every Day is an adage that can send a lot of people as depressed and deflated as public school basketballs. Careful now.) . The pretty Spanish lilt when everyone sang “I want to get high, so high” in unison was magnificent.
During their set, in a haze of summer sun being filtered through polluted sky and second-hand smoke, I came to the realization that hip hop is generally the perfect pace for a smoky brain to listen to. Prioritized percussion beating out, perpetual references to the marvelous green sticky stuff that makes most anything seem pretty wonderful, and melodies that both sound like and encourage bouncing. Hip hop riffs are dependable and have soul. In Cypress Hill’s case there was that hardcore edge as well, tracks like Rise Up and Rock Superstar with bitey guitar conjuring up memories of Rage Against the Machine and black nail polish and guys wearing incredibly low, baggy shorts.
My foray into blazed hip hop listening continued back in Australia. A good friend of mine used to make me mixed CDs of rap music. Every Friday afternoon we would drive my faded yellow car down to the lake’s shore and listen to them, with fat spliffs in flavoured papers hiding in our white and gold cigarette packets. She would be finishing up a whole day of painting in a prestigious art school (also known as Be Creative All The Time While We Judge You), and I had a class called Human Rights Violations in International Relations: Or Why the World Is Fucking Bleak. I realize now as much as I did then that feeling shitty on Friday afternoons during that semester is the actualization of first world problems to a tee, but knowing that that did not make our shitty feelings in any way less shitty. But this weekly tradition was a pretty good way to counteract them for a while.
She called those CDs ‘Rapper’s Delights’, and they brightened our glum Fridays to no end. It’s hard to be sad when you are stoned and your best friend’s white gurl voice is rapping along with Ludacris’ deep Southern drawl, and there is sunset, silver water and nicotine. Every week there was something different to look at, some new shade of rose in the sky or type of person about. We saw kayakers, fishers, amblers, extremely happy dogs, had the car swarmed by a bunch of wholesome cross-country skiers on roller blades, and even once saw a water snake eat a bird (seriously). And somehow it was just really lovely to watch all that go by and be completely still, to be calm for a minute. Also, we were probably slightly smug that we were blazed and happy and sedentary while the sober people who have their lives together enough to go jogging were sweaty and red in the face. And not listening to Snoop Dogg. Clearly missing out.
So readers, I humbly request that you roll a spliff and enjoy yourself some hip hop, as it is a match made in heaven.
Check out the accompanying playlist here.
Whether you are reading this sober or accompanied by the bleary-eyed green dragon, enjoy these tunes that are heavy on hip hop beats. Also, I put ‘Juicy’ by Biggie Smalls in there twice by accident and have no idea how to remove it from the Youtube playlist… Possibly more of an anti-pot message being sent right here.
Warhol's Children's 'Chemically Assisted' series:
Check out the original series here.