In the early 20th century, the jazz scenes in New York and New Orleans produced some of the earliest cannabis-themed songs, but a late-1930s crackdown on cannabis had a chilling effect on the creation of such tunes. That trend changed in the 1960s when the rock 'n' roll revolution embraced cannabis, and then reggae kept the music elevated in the '80s and rap in the '90s, and now nearly every genre features songs about the world's most inspiring plant. PRØHBTD pays tribute to cannabis-inspired music with a new weekly series that highlights the most "lit" song each year per decade, starting in the 2010s and working backwards.
In compiling these lists, PRØHBTD purposely avoided terms like "best" and "biggest" since the selection process emphasized criteria like breakthroughs, mainstream reach, influence and overlooked underground gems. For example, a modern country song about cannabis edged out what many would consider better or bigger tracks because it represented a bold statement in a genre that's grown progressively more conservative. Dance music has limited representation due in part to limited lyrics, but Dirty Audio, Kygo, Chrome Sparks, and Flosstradamus all deserve credit for infusing their tunes with cannabis references.
Now without further ado, pop on your headphones and spark up a Heavy Grass pre-roll: Your ears are about to get lit!
Los Angeles singer Jhené Aiko dropped "Sativa" last year on an album that included tracks like "LSD" and "Psilocybin," but this January remix with Rae Sremmurd rules 2018 so far. It's impossible not to love her voice, which sings so lovingly about cannabis. Honorable mention goes to long-time advocate Juicy J with his tongue-in-check "We Can't Smoke No Mo."
2017 CLiQ and Alika - "Wavey"
Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley and Stephen Marley deserve a major nod for one of the best MMJ anthems ever in "Medication," but the U.K. duo CLiQ took top honors with this underground viral hit featuring Alika on vocals. Really, the chorus says it all: "Get high, get lit, get drunk, get wavey." Aussie punks Dune Rats also deserve a nod for its "Braindead" video, which the band recorded in a giant cannabis field.
2016 DRAM and Lil Yachty - "Broccoli"
This list doesn't focus on the biggest songs, but "Broccoli" was huge with nearly 300 million YouTube views. The title obviously doesn't refer to the flowering crest of a cabbage, which is clearly not the tattoo on the female dancer's butt. The 90-second track "James Joint" scores an honorable mention for Rihanna singing, "I'd rather be smoking weed."
The Magic Kingdom never turned out a cannabis advocate as outspoken as the former Hannah Montana, star and her enthusiasm is on full display in "Dooo It!" The Flaming Lips co-produced song defiantly proclaims, "Yeah, I smoke pot (do it), yeah, I love peace (do it), but I don't give a fuck (do it)." The year featured nearly a dozen lit tracks, including Netherfriends' "Uptown Boys," Macka B's "Marijuana Card" and Merle and Willie's "It's All Going to Pot."
2014 Florida Georgia Line - "Sun Daze"
Dual Insanix, Doja Cat, Noname, Young Thug and Freddie Gibbs & Madlib all released anthems during the first year of legalization in Colorado, but country music stars Florida Georgia Line takes the chalice. Working in a genre that often supports Trump and prohibition, the duo defied the stereotype with a hit that celebrates getting stoned at a pool party. Sure, FGL is kinda like the Nickelback of country music, but "Sun Daze" appeared on an album that topped the Billboard 200, and the duo is set to headline the first night of Stagecoach 2018.
The Underachievers get the nod for helping give NYC hip-hop new life with their breakthrough single, "Herb Shuttles," though the biggest cannabis anthem was arguably A$AP Rocky's "Purple Swag." Chance the Rapper also deserves a nod for "Smoke Again."
2012 ScHoolboy Q and A$AP Rocky - "Hands on the Wheel" -
A production duo named THC made two tracks for ScHoolboy Q's second album, and the cannabis anthem "Hands on the Wheel" is somehow not one of them. Missed opportunities aside, the underground hit stands out for sampling Lissie's "Pursuit of Happiness," a Kid Cudi cover in which Lissie sings, "Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit." The following year, ScHoolboy Q recruited Kendrick Lamar for another cannabis-themed track, "Collard Greens."
2011 Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Bruno Mars - "Young, Wild & Free"
Wiz and Snoop have to make the list somewhere, and what better track than a collaboration with Bruno Mars that includes the line, "Roll joints bigger than King Kong's fingers."
2010 Wale and Tiara Thomas - "The Cloud"
Kid Cudi landed the bigger cannabis anthem with "Marijuana," but Wale wins out for originality. "The Cloud" elegantly blends Wale's raps and Thomas' gorgeous vocals over an acoustic guitar-driven hip-hop track.
Check back next week for the most lit songs of the 2000s.