For Today I Am a Boy: Artists capture the feelings of gender dysphoria
As most trans people know, gender dysphoria can be a horrible experience. It can be difficult to see yourself in music, film, and art — until certain songs click. This week’s playlist highlights many great trans artists as well as other songs by non-trans people which encapsulate the sinking feeling which arrives with gender dysphoria.
Some tracks are empowering, some are hopeful, and others are bleak as fuck. Sometimes, what we need is music that shows us the darkest and brightest depths of our emotions — something weed can help with too. Much has been made about the lack of inclusivity in the cannabis industry — especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Thankfully, entrepreneurs like the iconic trans activist Buck Angel are working to bring cannabis back to the the queer community with a “grand vision of a grassroots movement to improve the lives and health of LGBTQ people everywhere using cannabis.”
Temple of Time: Video games soundtrack stoner weekends
If you smoke weed and you’re also a gamer, it would be pretty shocking if you’ve never combined both experiences.
In the digital age, video games and weed have always been great companions. Whether you’re too blazed to navigate a Rainbow Road on Mario Kart 64 or can’t differentiate Sonic and Shadow on Sonic Adventure 2, weed might not be the most sensible accompaniment if you actually want to make progress in a game. But it sure makes it a lot more fun.
This week’s playlist features some of the most mesmerizing video game soundtracks to from the SNES all the way to the PS4. From 16-bit jingles to lush soundscapes, these sounds have sonically defined gaming and pushed the boundaries of video games while soundtracking creativity.
It would be easy to view ’80s Britain as a land of drab, conservative realism. Margaret Thatcher’s economic vision posited that there was no alternative to capitalism and that the nation as a whole had to come to terms with this grim but simple fact.
Though much of the music here is not overtly political, what it does attempt is to expand the parameters of this myopic vision of reality, to encompass the full remits, the full possibilities, of life and art.
From Coil and Kate Bush, who would use cutting-edge sampling technology to redefine the textural world of song, to the hypnagogic dreamscapes of Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and Felt, each artist here is hell-bent on rejecting the narrow confines of realism.
Computer Love: How autotune exposes flaws just as much as concealing them
Manipulation of the voice can be a great opinion splitter. X Factor’s legion of fans will call it dishonest; a seasoned rockist may call it trite. But autotune is the musical texture that best defines our relationship with technology, in all its intimacy.
In this week’s playlist, autotune exposes the flaws of the human voice just as much as it conceals them. Take the moment at the beginning of Kanye West’s ‘Street Lights,’ where his voice erupts into distortion. Similarly compelling is the lack of instrumentation on Imogen Hope’s ‘Hide and Seek,’ which results in one of the most quietly powerful pop songs of the 2000s. These kinds of computerized love songs are as touching as any earnest, acoustic songwriters.
Nowhere2go: Hip-hop is stretched out, screwed and chopped
The past year has been a stellar yet unpredictable year for hip-hop. Earl Sweatshirt, Pusha-T, and JPEGMAFIA are but a few of the artists who have put out formidable albums in 2018, and the fact that none sound at all alike only demonstrates how fertile and stratified the genre has become.
This playlist celebrates the lopsided and fidgety end of hip-hop that’s uncomfortable with any genre restraints. It’s both a celebration of this year’s most innovative artists as well as some all-time greats. From Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s scruffy crooning to DJ Screw’s heady and slurred psychedelia, these are sounds stretched out and mangled.
Be Yourself: Frank Ocean crafts songs that are familiar and ambivalent
This is the final installment of artist-themed playlists for Toking Tunes. We’re rounding it off with ten tracks from Frank Ocean.
Frank Ocean has a conflicted relationship with drugs — particularly on his record Blonde. On the interlude ‘Be Yourself,’ the voice acting as his mother says: “Do not smoke marijuana, do not consume alcohol. Do not get in the car with someone who is inebriated.” On the following track ‘Solo,’ he sings about dropping acid. It’s this kind of cognitive dissonance that makes the album so compelling. You’re always second guessing Frank’s position.
We’ve all heard the voice of Ocean’s interlude in some real-life capacity – someone claiming your weed consumption makes you “ sluggish, lazy, stupid, and unconcerned.” Listening to Blonde can ease the annoyance of this kind of idiocy. Frank Ocean’s self-awareness and introspective lyrics are an antidote to such bothersome assertions and a great asset for self acceptance, too.
Arisen My Senses: Björk journeys through familiar and strange emotions
Many would label Björk as weird or strange. However there is something very normal and tangible about her as an artist. That’s not to understate the singular nature of her music and aesthetic; her costumes, voice, and sonic ideas are all profoundly striking. But for me, Björk has always unpinned the hidden narratives inside all of us. Her music and image harness something both natural and emotional. Listening to records like Vulnicura and Vespertine can be introspective journeys, rather than voyages to other places.
For many — or myself anyway — smoking weed in solitude is exactly that. A voyage into one’s own emotions –- ones that might be unfathomable on the average day. If you’re one of those who’s never got into Björk, why not try? And why not try while stoned? Here’s a (fairly) easy route into her strange but grounded world.
Boing Boom Tschak: Kraftwerk craft a hallucinatory world
Kraftwerk probably isn’t the first name you’d imagine would appear on a weed playlist. “It is not easy to turn knobs on a synthesizer if you are drunk or full of drugs… We always tried to keep very aware of what we were doing while acting in public,” band member Karl Bartos once said.
But this trippy, mystical world of their music is very palpable – ‘Hall of Mirrors’ explores the self-destructive nature of the human psyche. Existential questions are posed en masse, a feeling familiar to anyone who regularly smokes weed or has dabbled in other substances.
On a lighter note, ‘Home Computer’ is a futurist anthem of sorts, and ‘Autobahn’ is near enough the archetype of electro-pop music. Kraftwerk is one of the most important bands in history — there’s a contentious one to debate at your next sesh.
Delicious: Charli XCX’s pop music tastes sugary sweet
To continue the artist-centric playlists, we make a small turn towards the hyperactive, overproduced mural that is pop music today. One person in particular amplifies these often tiring signifiers to the point where they become flat-out bonkers, yet still captivating.
This artist is Charli XCX. She may not be the first name that springs to mind when you’re going to smoke weed — but trust me, it’s a good fit. “I always think about you when I’m high,” flutters her auto-tuned voice on ‘Delicious.’ “Baby you’re the love of my life, selling all the drugs that I like,” she croons on ‘Drugs.’
The singular artist “has more energy than the Energizer Bunny,” according to Pitchfork, so a sativa may be the way to go.
Smoking weed has not only improved my relationship with others, but also myself. It has bolstered my connection to music and my body. So with the next few playlists, I thought it would be apt to highlight some artists whose work has been key in this process.
Arca’s music is both alien and intimate, ghastly but serene. Putting himself at the forefront of his work, the body is a means of navigating sonics that can be disorienting. Experiencing Arca’s visual presence is just as important as sonics. It’s music that creates a temporary alternate reality, where we are freed from the limitations of the human form and gender. Here are some great songs to experience this bliss.