It’s summer, and that means it’s time to get together with friends and family, some of whom definitely partake. Do you have a playlist for these times? It’s not hard to put together a banging summer soundtrack for these barbecues, parties, and al fresco sessions.
A cannabis-themed collection of cuts will inevitably include chestnuts such as Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It,” Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It,” or virtually anything from Snoop Dogg. Compiling a list of all the songs I could think of that have a reference to cannabis in some form—growing, smuggling, consuming, selling—quickly turned into a lengthy yet enjoyable YouTube rabbit-hole session. Cannabis is referenced in nearly every musical genre, save for Christian music. (And as far as that last category goes, there may be some pro-weed Christian artists of which I am not aware, but the “Puff Puff Pray” tracks are few and far between, if they even exist.)
Hip-hop has, by far, the greatest number of cannabis references, which underscores the crucial role hip-hop played in normalizing it. Example? A recent Oreo cookie commercial features well-known weed baron Wiz Khalifa, who has his own cannabis products line and once spit, “Smoking my ganja public, I’m all about that money/Dress like everyday sunny/Rolling weed like a Marley.” Speaking as someone who may have eaten multiple sleeves of Oreos while high, Nabisco made a great choice.
Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike recently made an eloquent case that hip-hop is undercredited for its role in cannabis legalization. During a “Free Speech Debate” organized by the Washington Post on June 17, Mike said, “We know that with national decriminalization of marijuana now, a lot of people are going to get credit for it—a lot of activists, a lot of workers. But I can show you a line that leads straight back to Cypress Hill, that leads straight back to Snoop Dogg, that leads straight back to people like Rick James.”
Killer Mike’s correct, and hip-hop artists’ enjoyment and advocacy of cannabis was explored a few years ago in a great article on Medium’s now-dormant music-focused subsite, Cuepoint. The piece, written by MC Big Data, combined three of my fav-or-ite things—weed, hip-hop, and pushing-glasses-up-the-bridge-of-my-nose-level statistical geekery.
MC Big Data used lyrics compiled by Rap Genius to explore the number of times individual artists have referenced cannabis, and it’s on par with how often modern country references “trucks” and “dusty roads.” (The Cuepoint piece was published in 2015, so some of your more recent stoned bangers won’t be listed.)
The top 10 solo hip-hop artists based on their mention of cannabis are:
1) Gucci Mane - 313 songs/52.78 percent of all songs
2) Wiz Khalifa - 247 songs/69.97 percent of all songs
3) The Game - 214 songs/49.54 percent of all songs
4) Curren$y - 204 songs/67.33 percent of all songs
5) Snoop Dogg - 159 songs/46.36 percent of all songs
6) Mac Miller - 136 songs/50.56 percent of all songs
7) Lloyd Banks - 125 songs/64.10 percent of all songs
8) E-40 - 122 songs/52.81 percent of all songs
9) Redman - 113 songs/70.19 percent of all songs
10) Raekwon - 112 songs/48.91 percent of all songs
That list is for solo artists, so before you @me, here’s a list of some hip-hop groups also fond of the cheeba cheeba:
Three 6 Mafia - 117 songs/54.17 percent of all songs
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - 106 songs/ 50.24 percent of all songs
Kottonmouth Kings - 89 songs/80.91 percent of all songs
Cypress Hill - 85 songs/50.60 percent of all songs
The article also says, “The states that have most weed songs, and yet weed is still illegal, are Louisiana (1,358 songs), Texas (1,186 songs), and Pennsylvania (1,027 songs).” MC Big Data reaches an interesting conclusion that “there ain’t a lot of rappers from states that legalized marijuana for recreational use, and they rarely rap about it”—although, again, this was from 2015, before California went fully legal.
So burn one down, and start creating your own “tunes to toke” playlist.