The 20 Best Weed References in Canadian Hip-Hop

Weed has fuelled some of Canada's best bangers. From Drake to Backxwash to Choclair, here are the country's most potent lyrics about getting high.

Complex Original

Image via Complex Original/Jazz Alba


America may have Method Man, Redman, and (…ahem) Afroman. But Canada is no slouch when it comes to MCs waxing poetic about puffing lye. Our famous B.C. bud has helped fuel some underground, criminally underrated rappers who add poignancy and nuance to their smoke odes. On the other end of the spectrum (a few time zones east) sit the world’s biggest pop acts, casually spitting about sharing spliffs with their ladies and their crews. Add a pioneering ’90s posse cut with low-key THC allusions, and you have a list of formidable True North toke tracks. So go on and inhale the buzz-inducing songs below—but don’t forget to be generous and pass them on to your friends, just like you’d pass a j.

20. Tona, “Weed & Alcohol” (2012)

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“Every day is green day, Billy Joe, really doe/Plenty ‘dro passing through the cypher, run through plenty ounce”

Not too much to read into on this Rich Kidd-produced track by Scarborough’s Tona—just a triumphant, resin-stained toast to his two favourite vices. “Twist up the lye, take a pen, write your name up in the sky,” he spits, and there’s little doubt more than a few joints were harmed in the making of this banger. It looks like he and his crew make short work of at least a couple ounces in the music video alone. A green day, indeed. —Alex Nino Gheciu

19. Classified, “Welcome to the Maritimes” (2005)

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“We always mix our tobacco with weed/It’s just the way we always done it, shit is natural to me”

Class’ singsong-y and carefree vocals are certainly primed for a party on this single from his 2005 LP Boy-Cott-In the Industry. Beyond that, however, the Haligonian rapper is also celebrating the criminally overlooked (or flown-over/driven through) East Coast. His tossed off yet thoroughly authentic observation about tobacco and endo combos makes this a blue-collar anthem for the ages. The snooty 6ix should take note of this astute lyricist, producer, and weed connoisseur. —Kyle Mullin

18. Manila Grey, “Leakz” (2018)

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“Ying yang duo claimed the rings like three-peat/Call my plug up you got weak weed”

Some rappers’ punchlines are painterly, while others’ disses are intricately technical. Rising B.C. duo Manila Grey, however, are all the more effective with a terse, unfussy boast about the superiority of their weed dealer. The line about the potency of their connect’s herb stands firm alongside the song’s other, bigger-swinging insults. That’s because the bar about the dealer is off-the-cuff hilarious and entirely relatable, surely bringing grins to the swaths of listeners who light up while queuing up this hypnotic, self-assuredly spat track. —Kyle Mullin  

17. Raz Fresco, “Cakey” (2012)

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“Natural born leader but I’d rather lead myself to the/Wealth and da green shit high off these trees pickin/Georgia peaches fruits of my labour but I ain’t eatin’”

Would you rather have your smoke circle pontificate about society’s ills, than giggle and debate about where to quell the munchies? Then Raz’ street manifesto is for you. The Toronto MC penned a triumphant anthem that involves gleefully sparking and passing trees. But instead of stopping at that shallow point, Raz goes further. His vice of choice is a source of celebration for facing down highly stacked odds, which he quickly makes clear with the visceral lines quoted above. He spits those nihilistically political rhymes over pulse-pounding percussion and samples of the shouting masses, all of which the talented rapper produced himself, no less. Who says THC stifles ambition? —Kyle Mullin

16. Bishop Brigante f/ Nate Dogg, “It’s Fo’ Twenty” (2007)

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“The greens is B.C., the swag is Scarborough/This one’s for the club when I spit that hard flow”

Back in the aughts, Scarborough’s Bishop Brigante tapped G-Funk legend Nate Dogg—Mr. “Smoke weed everyday” himself—for this extremely aughts-sounding track. Over some thumping, Keys to the VIP-era club production by T. Minus, the subject matter is about as on-the-nose as it gets: having some time to burn around 4:20 p.m. But hey, there’s no need for subtlety when you’ve got Nate Dogg in the house, and the late King of Hooks essentially predicts the cannabis legalization movement that would sweep North America over a decade later: “Whether we in Canada or in the States/We gon’ keep it funky make it fresh to death/Whether we in Canada or in the States/We gon’ smoke up all the weed till there ain’t nothin’ left.” —Alex Nino Gheciu

15. Zach Zoya, “Slurpee” (2020)

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“Qc get cold in the winter but summertime feel like Nevada/Roll up a wood, fuck up my face, fly to Nirvana, ooh (Yuh)”

Producer Neo Maestro’s rumbling key stabs, clapping beat, and blaring horn blasts will all overwhelm you like a slurpee sugar rush. And while Montreal MC Zach Zoya nimbly raps about spiking that dessert drink with vodka, the song’s immersive, trance-inducing atmosphere instead evokes a cannabis-infused cocktail. If all that isn’t enough to make you trip, then check out the surreally zany music video, which should give you giggle fits even if you’re cold sober. —Kyle Mullin

14. Merkules, “Smoke Clouds” (2013)

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“I’m rollin’ weed, tryna find myself/Every minute, every hour till my time runs out”

This is a darkly celebratory cannabis anthem. The squealing keys and scattershot high-hat sample underpin B.C. rapper Merkules’ deft shifts in tempo and flow, all of which evoke momentary tripping. His lyrics seal the deal, however, like a lick of freshly packed rolling paper before it’s lit up. “Roll it up and pass it til’ my thumbs get the blisters” is an especially defiant and rebellious bar, though the realistic descriptions about burn-holes in car seats are all the more evocative. By offering a nuanced portrait of inebriation, Merkules made one of the most relatable tracks on this list. —Kyle Mullin

13. Sweatshop Union, “Day Off” (2013)

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“Damn, tryna see through the haze/I’ll have another couple cups and get rejuvenated/Pay the waitress, go home and smoke weed/You can say it’s pretty much my only plan that proceed”

Speaking of West Coast rappers with ambitious lyrics: B.C. backpack troop Sweatshop Union rival Merkules’ bittersweet toke track with “Day Off.” Punctuated with ominous church organ-esque keys, and keychain clinking percussion, the production matches the hangover vignettes that Union vividly unveil. Together, their words and music aptly soundtrack waking and baking to stave off yesterday’s regrets. —Kyle Mullin

12. Choclair f/ Ro Dolla, Solitair, and Saukrates, “Tell Em” (2003)

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“Funny how the weed goes/Out the nose…/Swimming in fish like eco/Where’d the weed go?/Give me the blunt back, my man”

Esteemed Scarborough MC Saukrates makes his spliff sound blazing hot as the summer sun on this jubilant cookout classic. Listeners got hazy, lazy summer vibes not only from the lyrics—like Sauk’s fittingly succinct line about exhaling satisfying smoke—but also from the stuttering, tightly looped, jazzy instrumental. All that, along with Ro Dolla’s mellow-as-a-body-stone flow and Choclair’s all but giddy tone, make for an anthem worth toking to. The plum rotisserie chicken in the equally breezy music video would also surely cure any munchies. —Kyle Mullin

11. Kardinal Offishall, “Feel Alright” (2005)

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“Fold up, smoke weed till we pass out/Say me wanna burn up”

Kardi deftly conveys an urge to party with abandon on this track from his underrated 2005 album Fire and Glory. The song’s dancehall rhythm, along with the Jamaican toasting cadence that the rapper creatively adopts, are testaments to his restless sonic ambition. Those elements also help the song evoke the type of toke that makes you want to dance and socialize, defying teetotalers’ (or… weed-totalers’?) conclusions about mellowing out. —Kyle Mullin

10. PARTYNEXTDOOR, “All I Wanna Know” (2015)

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“Still I love the drank, and I got weed/Fuck what a nigga think, it’s my body”

Here, PARTYNEXTDOOR channels his inner bioethicist and advocates for his somatic rights. Getting cross-faded off of booze and bud is just a part of the OVO Sound signee’s lifestyle, and the woozy, teetering production on this track captures that vibe perfectly. Hey, unless he’s hurting someone else directly, he should be able to do as he pleases. His body, his choice. —Alex Nino Gheciu

9. Cadence Weapon, “Hype Man” (2012)

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“I got a nigga, all he do is carry weed/Another nigga shoot videos for my web feed”

Speaking of high concepts: How could a designated weed carrier make for a compelling protagonist? In Cadence Weapon’s hands, even the humblest of characters are compelling. Over ping pong-ing keys and a lightly nimble beat that crackles like sparked Indica, the Edmonton-born rapper embodies both a hot-shot headliner who sneers at the underling who fetches his weed, and then the hypeman who is overjoyed to take on that task. Toggling between distinct flows for each character—stilted and polite for the eponymous pleb, chest puffed for the self-deluded emperor of the mic—is a technique as clever as the overall premise, leaving the listener to wonder if Cadence sparked something potent to get into such a creative headspace. —Kyle Mullin

8. Backxwash, “Black Sheep” (2020)

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“Only thing that I need is some vodka and little therapy/Some weed, maybe Serge Ibaka, and two seraphim/I’m sick and I’m calling the doctor new Benzathine/The type to just leave you alone if you let me be”

This candidly vulnerable track should make most listeners feel seen. After all, who among us hasn’t self-medicated when grappling with either lifelong demons or fresh new hurdles? Aside from the provocative notion of therapeutic smoking, Montreal’s Backxwash also splinters the track with glimpses of family strife, each pointedly detailed enough to lodge under your skin. Backxwash is catharsis personified on an effort that’s all too rare during this era saturated with high-and-faded bangers. —Kyle Mullin

7. KILLY, “Forecast” (2017)

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“Better know my name/I don’t play no games/I don’t pay for weed but I pay the price of fame”

Sure, one of the perks of being a popular MC is not having to buy your own cheeba, but that’s a small consolation for the occupational hazards that come with having the spotlight in Toronto’s toxic hip-hop scene. On KILLY’s third official single—a menacing, mesmerizing track produced by Bluxz—he portrayed the double-edged sword of rap stardom, spitting about not even being able to trust those closest to him (“My right hand started moving lefty”). It’s a perennially paranoid state to be in—and we’re guessing all that free weed he’s been smoking isn’t helping with that. —Alex Nino Gheciu

6. Drake f/ Jhené Aiko, "From Time" (2013)

“When he put that bottle down, girl that nigga’s amazing/Well, fuck it, we had a couple Coronas/We might have rolled a white paper, just something to hold us/We even talked about you and our couple of moments”

Leave it to Drake to romanticize his dad falling off the wagon. Over 40’s muted, piano-led sonics, Aubrey makes getting lit with his pops sound like an incredibly intimate and illuminating experience. He spins a j to keep their heart-to-heart going, inhaling just enough THC to feel comfortable sharing his lingering feelings about an old flame. For all the because-I-got-high-isms prevalent in popular music, here’s a weed reference evoking the type of emotional clarity a late-night sesh can sometimes yeild. —Alex Nino Gheciu

5. Tommy Genesis, "Bump" (2015)

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“If you be faith, then I’ll be hope/But we still can’t in-between smoke this dope/Got too much interstice hot to cold/Got too much pocket full of Indian gold”

Cannabis may be the mildest substance referenced in this ode to suburban drug culture by Vancouver’s Tommy Genesis (I mean, check the title), but the weed reference in its hook is too great not to include on this list. “We still can’t in-between smoke this dope” is like a radder, Gen Z version of Ron Swanson’s famed life lesson: “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” Plus, the song itself—with its minimalist production by N.D.T. and Genesis’ voice drifting in and out of the mix—is a trip, and especially enjoyable to listen to after smoking a whole-ass joint. —Alex Nino Gheciu

4. The Weeknd, “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” (2011)

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“Two puffs for the lady who be down for that/Whatever, together/Bring your own stash of the greatest, trade it/Roll a dub, burn a dub, cough a dub, taste it/Then watch us chase it”

Rather than mellow out and get the munchies, this song is better suited for waking and baking for a productive day. The Weeknd’s searing croon, the shrill keys, and the bluntly slapping percussion all set an epic atmosphere that feels a little more Scarface than Half Baked. More visceral still, however, is the then up-and-comer’s lyrics about prepping and enjoying a blunt, which are a feast for all your senses. It not only boasts artsy imagery, but is all the more pleasurable because it’ll leave you salivating for THC. —Kyle Mullin

3. Haviah Mighty f/ Clairmont the Second, “Smoke” (2019)

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“Like weed and white, yo/Fire she a pyro”

Hip-hop was compared to a lover on Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” while Nas spat from a pistol’s vantage point on “I Gave You Power.” The same lofty metaphorical heights are achieved by Polaris Prize winner Haviah Mighty with a fraction of the bars. Rather than building a song around it, she tosses off a multitudes-deep comparison between herself and blazed herb. The heat, the smoke, the ensuing slain brain cells thanks to her potency—such parallels are deftly implied on those lean bars. More ambitious still is the broader concept, with which she flips rap’s typical party-toke talk in favour of having weed be a stand-in for her formidable lyricism. That might seem like an unconventional aim, but given her abundant disses at subpar opponents on this song’s opening bars alone, we should expect the unexpected from this boundlessly creative MC. To put it another way: Haviah is like plush kush on the mic, while her opponents are merely stems and sticks. —Kyle Mullin

2. Drake f/ The Weeknd, "Crew Love" (2011)

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“Smoking weed under star projectors/I guess we’ll never know what Harvard gets us”

The production alone makes this track—from Champagne Papi’s 2011 LP Take Care—a staple of any smoke sesh playlist. The thumping yet muffled percussion evokes smoke hitting your system after billowing up from a bong’s sizzling bottom. The Weeknd’s high notes, meanwhile, float heavenward. All that is put over by Drake’s inebriated moments of lyrical clarity. The lines quoted above don’t just reference weed—backed by such powerful music and astutely observed details, they becomes a mantra for over-pressured kids who’d rather blaze and get creative, than strive for shallow elitism. —Kyle Mullin

1. Rascalz f/ Checkmate, Kardinal Offishall, Thrust, and Choclair, “Northern Touch” (1998)

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“Rascalz they make the cash flow indeed/Yo, I down the Goldschläger/Big C puffs the lye/Choclair with the mouth colourful like the currency”

Rascalz’ “Northern Touch” didn’t just break ground for Canadian rap. Choclair’s guest verse for the 1998 hit has a subtle reference to puffing that wouldn’t faze desensitized listeners in 2021. Fans from the time can still, however, remember how exciting it was to have a song with a weed reference dominate Canadian airwaves during a comparatively prudish era.

Equally compelling: the sample of “Everything Good to You (Ain’t Always Good for You)” by B.T. Express, somewhat mellower than the one coincidentally used by DMX (RIP) for the ferocious “Get At Me Dog.” Sprinkle in an irresistible hook from Kardinal Offishall, and the lore of Choclair’s woozily risqué line, and you’ve got enough to roll up a plump proverbial musical fatty that is intoxicating from when the first note hits. —Kyle Mullin

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