4/20 Songs: 20 Smokin' Tunes About Weed
It's hard to imagine that Bob Dylan, Three 6 Mafia and Toby Keith have much in common, but all three artists understand the power of a classic stoner track. Marijuana has served as the inspiration for classic cuts in rock, hip-hop, pop, and of course, reggae, and is still influencing more than a few of our biggest artists (hello, Wiz Khalifa!) today. For 4/20, Billboard.com has put together a countdown of 20 tracks that talk about toking up, with each song including a "potency" level that measures their inebriated energy on a scale of one (mildly buzzed) to 10 (totally stoned).
20. "Because I Got High"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "I was gonna clean my room until I got high/ I gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high/My room is still messed up and I know why (Yeah, hey!)/ Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high."
Potency: ONE. At first, "Because I Got High" sounds like a fun, harmless joke about how smoking weed leads to unproductivity. But when Afro Man's problems get more and more serious -- he goes from cutting class to losing his wife and kids -- this song just becomes a buzzkill.
19. "Reefer Man"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "If he trades you dimes for nickels/ And calls watermelon's pickles/ Then you know/ You're talkin' to that reefer man"
Potency: SEVEN. For those that not only smoke, but tease folks that can't handle their green with a cool temperment, this 1932 song's a laugh riot--poking fun at folks that don't know what's what or which way is up after they light up.
18. "How High"
Method Man and Redman
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane/ It's the funk doctor spock smokin buddha on a train/ How high? So high that I can kiss the sky/ (Up, up to the sky!)"
Potency: FIVE. Though it only has a few literal weed references, this mid-'90s rap gem was the original theme song for one of the greatest stoner music duos to date, Method Man & Redman. To witness them perform it in concert today is to see burly security guards hopelessly attempt to put out dozens of simultaneously lit-up joints.
17. "You Don't Know How It Feels"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Let's get to the point/ Let's roll another joint/ And let's head on down the road/ There's somewhere I got to go."
Potency: FIVE. The rock 'n' roll equivalent to Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode," Petty's hit isn't really about weed. The one line that is, however, is just too memorable to go unacknowledged. Radio stations famously censored it, but that hasn't stopped anyone from shouting it out loud in their car.
16. "Roll Another Number (For the Road)"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Think I'll roll another number for the road, I feel able to get under any load/ Though my feet aren't on the ground, I been standin' on the sound/ Of some open-hearted people goin' down."
Potency: SIX. Though Neil Young's classic isn't solely about weed, the song's general sentiment is all stoner, and it's impossible to listen to these skulking guitar strums without slowing down to a snail's pace.
15. "Young, Wild & Free"
Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Bruno Mars
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Roll joints bigger than King Kong's fingers/ And smoke them hoes down until they're stingers. "
Potency: SEVEN. Yeah, it's a softball pop hit. But "Young, Wild & Free" is dope because it unites legendary smoker Snoop Dogg with young puff dragon Khalifa and it ropes in sweetie pie crooner Bruno Mars, whose hook makes this a playful, high-ranking Hot 100 jam about hazy times and not just another album cut to be cherished only by serious stoners.
14. "We Be Burnin'"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Everyday we be burnin' not concernin' what nobody wanna say / We be earnin' dollars turning 'cause we mind de pon we pay / More than gold and oil and diamonds - girls, we need dem everyday"
Potency: SIX. Not only is Sean Paul clear of his love for blazin' on "Burnin'" -- he sets that love to a dancehall beat we can get down too. Paul's "We Be Burnin'" spent a full 28 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 6.
13. "Take A Toke"
C+C Music Factory
Most Smokin' Lyric: "You ignite me and I'll ignite you / And once all the sheets burn, baby / I've got some more bamboo / And when the smoke clears / Lady, still my eyes focus on you / Huff and puff some of my funk stuff / Prove my point that I am the joint"
Potency: SEVEN. They may be best known for their club hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", but C+C slowed down the mood and lowered the temperature on this 1994 cut, intermixing lovin' (er' sex) and weed.
12. "Weed With Willie"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Now we learned a hard lesson in a small Texas town/ He fired up a fat boy and he passed it around/ The last words that I spoke before they tucked me in/ I'll never smoke weed with Willie again"
Potency: SEVEN. On this "Shock'n Y'all" bonus track, Toby Keith spins a yarn about sharing a blunt with one of America's most notorious pot enthusiasts: Willie Nelson. The country legend's stuff might be a little too powerful for Keith, who opts for the whiskey and declares, "I'll never smoke weed with Willie again."
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Pre- pre- pretty green bud/ All in my blunt/ Ohhh I need it."
Potency: SEVEN. Kid Cudi recently swore off smoking weed, but he certainly spent a good chunk of his first two albums celebrating the pastime. On "Marijuana," the airiest track on "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager," Cudi likens marijuana to a best friend, saying that it "always had my back" and "never left me lonely."
10. "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "I would not feel so all alone/ Everybody must get stoned!"
Potency: SEVEN. Dylan was no stranger to philosophical songwriting in the mid-60s, but the opening track to "Blonde on Blonde" remains a particular triumph for marijuana enthusiasts. Backed by a brass band, the folk legend delivers a loopy anthem punctuated by the exclamation, "Everybody must get stoned!" at the end of each verse.
9. "The Next Episode"
Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Hey-ay-ay-ay! Smoke weed every day!"
Potency: EIGHT. On this 2001 West Coast classic, the Doctor recruits his conglomerate, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Nate Dogg (R.I.P.), to show how the left side lives: namely, sporting greenery of every type.
8. "Pass The Koutchie"
The Mighty Diamonds
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Pass the kutchie pon the left hand side / Pass the kutchie pon the left hand side / It a go bun, it a go dung, Jah know"
Potency: NINE. The Mighty Diamonds' 1982 classic was loved by many in Jamaica, but exploded it in the U.K. and U.S. when Musical Youth covered it as "Pass the Dutchie." Musical Youth interchanged pots, substituting the "kutchie" with a cooking utensil.
7. "I Got 5 on It"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "I'm gone, beatin my chest like King Kong / It's on, wrap my lips around a 40 / And when it comes to get another stogie / Fools all kick in like Shinobi."
Potency: NINE. Listen closely to Luniz' 1995 "I Got 5 On It," and you'll get a full lesson on the do's and don't's of dope. The Oakland rap duo's 'Operation Stackola' knocked Michael Jackson's "History" of the charts solely off the strength of the platinum certified Indo anthem.
6. "Sweet Leaf"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "My life is free now, my life is clear/I love you sweet leaf, though you can't hear."
Potency: NINE. Marijuana, of course, is an inanimate object. But don't tell that to Ozzy Osbourne, who professes his love directly to his "sweet leaf" as though it's his wife, Sharon, or some mythical metal goddess, over grinding guitar riffs. Being pro-weed never sounded so romantic.
5. "Hits from the Bong"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Still it, goes down smooth when I get a clean hit/ Of the skunky, funky, smelly green sh*t/ Sing my song, puff all night long/ As I take hits from the bong..."
Potency: NINE. Complete with bong rip sound effects and a hazy soul sample, Cypress Hill's hip-hop classic could persuade even the straightest of the straight edge to take a walk on the high side.
4. "Smoke Two Joints"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "I smoke two joints a dime a piece, and two the time before / I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints / And then I smoke two more"
Potency: NINE. Anytime, anywhere is the mentality when it comes to the toke on Sublime's 1992 hit, "Smoke Two Joints." Originally by The Toyes, Sublime adds in other samples ('Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' film, Eazy E, Just Ice and Bert Suzanka) and seals it with the sounds of a bubbling bong.
3. "Legalize It"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "Singers smoke it, and players of instrument too/Legalize it, yeah yeah, that's the best thing you can do"
Potency: NINE. Whether they call it weed, marijuana, tampee or ganja, smokers have been grooving to Peter Tosh's plea for legalization for over 35 years. Reggae legend Bob Marley later tried his hand at a new version of "Legalize It" after guesting on Tosh's 1976 album of the same name.
2. "Stay High"
Three 6 Mafia
Most Smokin' Lyric: "What's up Mary! Mary Jane!/Since I have met you, girl, you ruined my brain/You stole my heart, right from the start"
Potency: TEN. Before they became Academy Award winners for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Three 6 Mafia crafted arguably the greatest hip-hop song about smoking weed ever laid to tape. From the syrupy soul sample to Young Buck's wild middle verse to the zonked-out bliss of the chorus, "Stay High" (or its censored counterpart, "Stay Fly") invites the listener to do just that.
1. "Mary Jane"
Most Smokin' Lyric: "And when I'm feeling low, she comes as no surprise / Turns me on with her love, takes me to paradise."
Potency: TEN. Rick James' oft-sampled 1978 hit is one of the first songs to define punk-funk. "Mary Jane" opens up strong with strings, then lightens up with female vocals that introduce the star of the show and James' leading "lady." Like Ozzy, James knows how to turn crooning about weed into a potent act of seduction.