Six Albums to Listen to While You’re Stoned
Sometimes, there’s a record, well, it’s the record for its time and place. It fits right in there. And it’s the perfect album to listen to after you’ve done a J or a dab or an edible or whatever happens to fly your dragon, and it puts your feet right back on solid ground. Or maybe it rockets you up through pink cotton candy clouds and off into outer space, past the Kuiper Belt and around the many moons of Saturn. It takes you right where you need to go. Aw, I lost my train of thought here. Heck, I’ve done introduced this blog enough…here are six albums to listen to while you’re stoned.
Being There – Wilco
I’ll start by admitting that modern day Wilco is not the Wilco of yesteryear. But ignoring any contemporary opinions on where Wilco might be today as a band, they were in 1996 still rising in popularity, and man were they making phenomenal music. Far from being a household name, they were just kind of this unclassifiable, vaguely alt band from Chicago.
Being There was Wilco’s second studio album. As a double album, it was an ambitious next step for the band, and today I still consider it a masterpiece of 90’s music that was way ahead of its time. It was Wilco’s first album with Jay Bennett, and also their first foray into using a slightly more psychedelic sound in their music. Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting came into it’s own on this album more than anything he had ever done previously either with Wilco or Uncle Tupelo. The entire album, from start to finish, contains some of the best lonesome, winsome, and seemingly contradictory lyrics that Tweedy ever wrote. “Your cold hot blood ran away from me to the sea” from “Via Chicago” being just one of a hundred examples.
It’s a classic album from start to finish. If you want to indulge your own existential melancholy after a puff or two, Being There holds up to this day, and this album has been there for me for more than 20 years.
Dopesmoker – Sleep
It was 2am in an Old Louisville whiskey bar when a gray bearded fella in a dingy road worn Canadian tuxedo leaned in and told me the story of Sleep and their 1996 opus Dopesmoker. Myself and a few lonesome strangers, neighborhood barflies seeking a casual tête-à-tête chaser for our Dickel Boulevardiers, had been debating the merits of grapefruits and lucid dreaming when the conversation unexpectedly took a turn towards heavy music. Apparently, some gnarly blokes from California, coming off a relatively successful record and enjoying a rare bit of confidence from their indie metal label, took 4 years to write a single song. The resulting 75-minute-long psychedelic hallucination, complete with its own fantastical mythology concerning cannabis breathing extraterrestrial tribal nomads and allusions to archaic desert religions, was almost immediately rejected by the label and the band was dropped. It took years for the record to finally be released in its proper form. Or at least that’s how Corny Bill told it. If you can make it through the 8-minute droning doom guitar intro, you’ll be in for a treat. Do yourself a favor and drop out of life with bong in hand, then follow the smoke to the riff filled land.
Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
Between 80 and 83 decibels through studio headphones, Olfactory–Auditory Sensory Convergence begins to set in and suddenly you can smell the music. Its scent, often akin to petrichor and regolith, is overwhelming, and spatial awareness begins to wane. It’s only track two and becoming increasingly clear that the journey through this cosmic soundscape may well pitch your mind into deep space. Scathing dissonance and monumental crescendos climax at the zenith, track eight, “Mountains”, setting up a truly transcendent meridian for the back half of the album. Built brick by sonic brick and mortared with stardust, Hans Zimmer’s organ-centric score to the major motion picture Interstellar resides in a universe of its own, with sounds big enough to fill even the most expansive galactic amphitheater. The hypnotically haunting click track present through the majority of the album, and its deeper meaning within the context of the film (seriously, if you don’t know about this then stop what you’re doing and go look it up right now), compounded by the sheerly emotive central melodic theme of the score, this collection of notes and sounds culminates to form the most pre-eminent and unparalleled audio experience in music today. Truthfully, this album is capable of making a sober person feel stoned and a stoned person feel untethered from Earth’s gravitational pull.
By the Throat – Eyedea and Abilities
Minnesota-born Michael Larsen, aka Eyedea, could destroy in a freestyle battle, that’s a fact. I saw it firsthand at the Dionysus Club at Oberlin College when a huge-chain dude in the crowd kept rapping over Eyedea and he consequently shredded him. 2009 By the Throat takes you so deeply inside his mind that you want to wallow there forever. The chorus from Burn Fetish always lights me up: “empathy is the poor man’s cocaine; love is just a chemical by any other name…” DJ Abilities rips, just give Spin Cycle one rotation to prove that, but Eyedea pierces your heart with eleven obsidian arrows. Blaze a jay during Hay Fever and catapult into a narcotic abyss where you’ll relive every drug experience you’ve ever had. The infectious highs of Sky Diver launch you into a freefall until This Story smacks you down with one of the most poetic stanzas in hip-hop:
“Maybe we’ll evolve to a point where fear as an experience is no longer instinctual but rather an emotion we use to enrich our understanding of why our human ancestors killed each other when they could have loved each other
One day we’ll be holding hands instead of grudges we’ll eliminate our territorial circuits and know what love is
One day we’ll be holding hands instead of M-16s till then every human being is controlled by the fight.”
This was the artist’s gift, his swan song, the last album before the world lost Eyedea at age 28.
A Tribe Called Quest – The Low-End Theory
Back in 1990, deep in the heart of Manhattan two 20-year-old kids who went by the names of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg began creating one of Hip Hops most iconic albums using the same style of mixing console as John Lennon. The duos sophomore album titled “The Low-End Theory” is a masterpiece to say the least, and that is why (in my humble opinion) it is undoubtedly the greatest album to listen to when you’re high. The sound they achieved was unlike any other at the time. Deep, bass heavy jazz (also known as the low end of the sound spectrum referenced in the album’s title) over raw Hip hop beats, mixed with samples from bands like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Average White Band all play together to provide a myriad of sounds that is borderline indescribable and immensely enjoyable. Then add the pure lyrical chemistry between Q and Phife as they harmoniously rap poetic lyrics intertwined with humor, awareness, storytelling, and a verbal glimpse into urban life and you’re left with an absolute bombshell of an album. In an age when hip hop music has a lot of very shallow, uninspired albums saturating the genre, it’s refreshing to look back and remember what Hip Hop is truly capable of. The Low-End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest is an album that transcends any preference you have in music and has lyrics that still hold true to this day. In the social media age that we live in today, lyrics like:
“Your whole appearance is a lie, and it could never be true. And if you really loved yourself, then you would try and be you.”
Really speak volumes even though they were spoken 30 years ago. Truly an iconic album.
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
Cannabis enthusiasts dream of reliving the moment when they lost their weed virginity. There is no feeling equal to the first time, but I can revisit that moment every time I dive into Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered. This record was created from selected tracks that were initially cut from Kdot’s previous 2015 release, To Pimp A Butterfly.
The project’s out-of-left-field release gave me and my friends a reason to celebrate in a new way. We decided to take our first cannabis infused edible during our first playthrough of the album. Of course we shared blunts during the listening party to complement our treats.
I remember the funkadelic groves, layered references, and afrocentric themes sparked a psychedelic energy in my entire body. I could feel the jazzy saxophone flooded my soul with passion as kunfu kenny’s retro-futuristic flow guided me into my enhanced imagination. With every puff and drum I felt closer to cerebral perfection. Thundercat’s addition on the bass and guitar on a few tracks really set this hip hop album apart from others. I don’t remember interacting with my friends during the playthrough. I only remember the vibe we set by getting stoned and experiencing one of the best artists of all time. From that day forward every time I listen to untitled unmastered during a sesh I shoot back to my first time ever getting high with my friends. The record has given me a super power that all stoners dream to harness.