It’s hard to imagine that Trump’s ’Murica may actually become the third country in the world (after Uruguay and Canada) to fully legalize marijuana. But, in recent years, public opinion has encouraged politicians and the populace to get behind this budding green wave. While we’re still a ways off from national legalization, acceptance is at an all-time high with CBD coffee cafés and marijuana-friendly smoke shops popping up in places like New York and Michigan. As more and more states follow suit, advocates are continuing to champion the idea of cannabis being the new normal.
Despite a long history of criminalization, cannabis has always had a place among musicians in particular. From Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, the list of artists who have aided in promoting a healthy relationship with marijuana is expansive and ever-growing. Here our top picks for the most impactful records to help normalize cannabis in pop culture.
The Luniz ft. Spice 1, Shock G, Dru Down, E-40, Richie Rich, & Cap’n Sav’ Em | “I Got 5 On It (Remix)” | 1995
Before California was a green-friendly state, the duo of Yukmouth and Numskull were keeping it extra funky with their ganja ode, “I Got 5 On It.” The infectious song was inescapable once it was released, and its impact increased with the high-powered remix featuring some of the Bay Area’s most prominent figures at the time. The doobie-filled cut was so beloved that, almost a quarter-century later, a whole new audience is being reintroduced to the track through Jordan Peele’s new horror tale, Us. The director’s use of “I Got 5 On It” as a central hook for the horror film’s trailer and plot line has everyone re-evaluating everything they’ve ever known.
Afroman | “Because I Got High” | 2000
The trope of the pothead slacker has been a key fixture in movies like Animal House and Dude, Where’s My Car, but for Joseph “Afroman” Foreman, it was a life-changing moment that gave us a buzz. The seeds planted in “Because I Got High” were relatable to many thanks to the song’s simple lyrics (who hasn’t forgotten to clean their room?) and hilarious quips (“I was gonna go to work but then I got high”). The song was one of the few cannabis-related tunes to go national thanks to a burgeoning file sharing program called Napster, the Howard Stern Show, director Kevin Smith, and a 2002 Grammy nod. The chart-topping track would be Afroman's only hit, but it still remains one of the best-loved marijuana songs of all time.
Peter Tosh | “Legalize It” | 1976
Peter Tosh is arguably one of the world’s best known marijuana mavens. Previously performing alongside the late, great Bob Marley as a Wailer, he broke out as a soloist in the mid 70s and struck a chord with “Legalize It.” On the ganja-advocate anthem he asked: “What am I without herb, and what is herb without me?” But, if you’re really about that smoke, no answer was needed because Tosh—in that instant—became of the ganja world’s most powerful proponents. Ahead of its time, “Legalize It,” is still a mantra used to this day at rallies and events in support of legalizing cannabis on a mass scale.
Redman and Method Man | “How High” | 1995
Originally, this Erick Sermon-produced hit was a greenhouse-gas-filled joint on the soundtrack for hip-hop documentary The Show, and served as Redman and Method Man’s first time on wax together. Since then, there is no questioning the pair or the song’s impact on the game. Red and Meth’s public support of marijuana has cemented them on hip-hop’s Mount Kushmore (along with B-Real and Snoop Dogg). From TV to music to influencing the actual marijuana industry with their own work (the weed locator app, BlazeNow)—both rappers have made a career of making songs that cause people to fire up their ventilators and ride the wave, but it all started with “How High.”
Rita Marley | “One Draw” | 1981
The wife of Bob Marley was no slouch in her own right when it came time to sing the praises of sinsemilla. Her husband had already planted the flag, but upon his passing, Rita took up the cause with a big hit of her own that permeated bongs and pipes around the world. “One Draw,” which was actually banned by the BBC, was treated with rock star status in her homeland of England, and went on to sell over two million copies. The impact of the song didn’t stop there as hip-hop would go on to carry on Rita’s cause, sampling the track in works by Psycho Les (“Ruff & Rugged”), Sizzla (“Smoke Di Herb”), Biz Markie (“Things Get a Little Easier”), and Cypress Hill (“I Wanna Get High”).
Kid Cudi | “Day ‘n’ Nite” | 2009
Kid Cudi was known for keeping a J or three in his Cleveland Indians fitted, but the rest of the world truly learned when “Day ‘n’ Nite” flooded the airwaves with its sweet-yet-sticky aroma. Twisting up a Cole Porter classic and inspired by the Geto Boys’ “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” Cudder constructed one of the most inspiring “free your mind” songs of the past 10 years. It took one of the fathers behind “emo rap” from behind the retail table in Brooklyn to traveling the globe as “The Lonely Stoner,” which endeared him to millions around the globe, thanks to leaning heavily into fusing hip-hop with other sounds. That very harmonious baritone reverberated through the populace, as “Day ‘n’ Nite” hit everywhere—from movies to TV to commercials to video games—and with it cemented the idea that we are all stoners looking for a foggy place to roam.
The Wu-Tang Clan | “Method Man” | 1993
Making their debut in late 1992, the Wu-Tang Clan broke the game wide open with a style and flair that never had been scene in rap before (and some would say since). With their love of kung-fu movies and dirty loop breaks, the Wu introduced new terminology into the cannabis lexicon that brought the marijuana movement from the green hills of California to the hardcore pavement of the East. Songs such as “Method Man” normalized the idea of cannabis consumption in a relatable way for many. From dropping his favorite roll-up (White Owls) to being one of the first New York rappers to rhyme about cess—Meth’s penchant for blunt-busting wordplay gave fellow smokers a new pop culture hero that would become a major influence for bringing the bud into the entertainment business and the marijuana industry.
Devin the Dude | “Doobie Ashtray” | 2002
Mr. Devin Copeland is a lifelong stoner whose brand of audio dope is second to none, but no one would dispute the fact that “Doobie Ashtray” is a criminally slept-on classic. Over DJ Premier production, Devin took all the best elements of an euphoric high and placed it on “Doobie Ashtray,” which gave the average Joe a theme song for their own adventures into the world of 420. If you were a smoker who didn’t have a lot of money, but could make your smoke sessions funny, then Devin the Dude’s 2002 classic is one of your most cherished doobies in your collection.