In the early 1900s, a new type of music called jazz was blossoming in the bordellos of New Orleans. Jazz musicians were known to be avid cannabis smokers — “moota,” as it was called, became a popular substance in the red-light district. The genre accompanied the Great Migration of African-Americans to the Midwest and Northeast in the ’20s and ’30s, where the music and the reefers gained popularity.
As jazz boomed in popularity in the U.S. and abroad, numerous hits were recorded about weed, including Cab Calloway’s ‘Reefer Man’ and Benny Goodman’s ‘Sweet Marijuana Brown.’
During that period, it seems that people were mostly unfazed by marijuana and probably glad to see it available in their cities. However, prohibitionists seized the influx of cannabis, black people, and jazz as an opportunity to push their racist agendas. Propaganda surfaced decrying “jazz cabbage” as an evil substance that was causing drug-crazed violence and menacing our cities.
That message still reverberates today as we hear attorney general Jeff Sessions beating the same snare drum.
This week’s Toking Tunes playlist contains a few gems from the early days of recorded jazz and a few of our personal favorite tracks to listen to while high. Twist up a reefer of some Thelonious Skunk and give it a listen!
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