Photo by Mathew Addington

Culture | 06.16.2022

Herb Frequency: How Cannabis Has Influenced Modern Music

It's the vibes man, the vibes.

In the wise words of Bob Dylan, “these things aren’t drugs; they just bend your mind a little.”

He said this during a 1963 Playboy interview about cannabis and opium, “I think everybody’s mind should be bent once in a while.”

We totally agree, and we’re sure other musicians and artists would too.

It’s no secret that artists like Dylan were puffing on the green for some added inspiration, but what about the artists of today? How has weed influenced modern music?

A Short History Lesson

Photo by Mathew Addington

Let’s discuss the stigma around weed for a moment. 

For decades, cannabis had some negative and racist connotations around it. Even today, Black people are 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis crimes than white people, even though both groups use it at similar rates. 

After long and grueling fights to normalize cannabis use regardless of ethnicity, gender, or age, society finally sees weed as alternative medicine and not the devil’s lettuce. 

This shift in perception has lingered over in the modern music industry. However, it’s no secret that 90s hip-hop acts were the first musicians to normalize cannabis use being discussed in songs. 

Yes, we do have icons like Jimmy Hendrix, who helped pave the way with hits like “Purple Haze.” Not to mention Bob Marley’s entire discography. However, during his time, cannabis use was more seen as a hippie drug or one that was popular in Black culture. 

One could say that modern music is far more expressive based on the topics, themes, and concepts artists discuss. Weed use is a wildly popular topic, and I could probably name ten songs off by heart that are inspired by weed. 

From “Purple Swag” by A$AP Rocky to “High By The Beach” by Lana Del Rey, there’s no denying that popular artists on different ends of the musical spectrum have been inspired by weed. 

You can even argue that weed songs are pretty mainstream now. It’s not just one race or gender creating them, but artists of different ethnicities and ages from vastly different genres. 

The Vibes

Photo by Mathew Addington

How cannabis has influenced, the sound of modern music is pretty interesting.

When you think of party music, these songs reference booze, shots, or alcohol drinking. These songs are often loud, upbeat, energetic, and in-your-face.

When you think of weed songs like the two I mentioned above, you probably think of chilled, relaxed tunes with mid or down tempos. This includes Lo-fi, relaxed hip-hop, hazy alternative, sensual pop, and more.

It’s pretty interesting to see how artists reflect the effects of cannabis within the vibes of their songs. Because modern music is heavily electronic, cannabis can help producers expand their creativity and try new sounds or arrangements they wouldn’t typically use.

Because weed expands the mind, this helps artists broaden their musical horizons and explore different avenues of music creation. This also helps artists remain distinct and continue traveling down their own unique musical paths.

You can easily notice the differences in sound and vibe between alcohol-inspired and weed-inspired music.

Because of these drastic differences, it’s safe to say that cannabis has influenced such unique sounds that are rather euphoric, ethereal, or transcendent.

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