At any given marijuana gathering, you will always ﬁnd music of various genres. Music is at the core of 420 culture, and the two have always been paired together. I’m sure many can recall the ﬁrst time they listened to music stoned, and how different you hear the song, but what exactly makes a song relevant to 420 culture? How can something be labeled Stoner Music, when so many different people, musical preferences and personalities make up the culture?
In an attempt to create a formula for Stoner Music, I’ve broken it down into several categories: atmosphere, beats per minute, lyrical content and repetition.
After some extensive research, I have some answers, more questions, and a list of some of my favorite stoney tunes.
Atmosphere: This category is a little blurry, as all music creates some sort of atmosphere, but Stoner Music tends to create a relaxed and spacious one. Of course, there are some exceptions, but most 420 music is slower and spacier.
BPM: In all genres, songs tend to be downtempo and have a slower BPM.
Lyrical Content: While some favorite stoner tunes reference the plant outright, many do not, and it certainly is not a requirement for Stoner Music. Themes can range from dark (think stoner metal) to light (think chillwave), and in a lot of classic stoner bands (Phish, Grateful Dead), the guitar jams were what mattered, not the lyrics.
Repetition: Probably the most prevalent theme, most stoner songs are repetitive.
Beautiful, ethereal and understated, Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” is a simplistic yet deceptively complex folk ballad. Mr. Drake, in his short life, was an avid smoker of marijuana, and this song is just like smoking grass on an autumn afternoon.
Besides the album being titled “The Chronic,” there are various other references to weed, lyrically and sampled, but that’s not what makes this track and album an example of Stoner Music. It’s Snoop and Dre’s chill lyrical delivery that’s perfectly behind the beat, and the creeping keyboards that make this track reek of chronic.
Droney, stoney and laden with washed out synths, Mike Hlady, the man behind the haze, loses himself in over 9 minutes of rhythm changes, grooved out interludes, and off kilter melodies. Complete with a jazz-fusion inspired drum break, this song is experimental and fun. Listen to any one of the entire eight album discography, every song is loaded with 420-friendly sonic odysseys.
Why pick one song when you can pick the whole album? Jurgen Muller’s “Science of the Sea,” is actually quite similar to what the title suggests. A synthesized journey into the depths of the ocean, Muller creates short, interconnected soundscapes that are best heard lying high on a ﬂoor, or underwater.
So does Stoner Music exist? Can you build it with a formula? Does it transcend all genres and form its own, or is it merely a term to be applied to anyone making music while high?
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