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    Toking Tunes

  • Green Line: New York’s weed-inspired rap sounds

    From Princess Nokia to Wiki, the sounds of New York's 420-friendly rappers make up this week's playlist.

    December 8, 2017

    Wiki likes to smoke weed — the Ratking lynchpin is pretty up front about it. Last year, he sold a line of T-shirts blessed with the phrase “smoke weed in the park.” On his single ‘Pretty Bull,’ released earlier this year, he flaunts his preference for a tight zoot, lambasting a friend for rolling a J that looks like “a dad pouch.”

  • Did You See: The genre-averse stew brewing in London

    This week's playlist features the sounds of a new strain of UK hip-hop, from the cheerful ode to pot that is 'Marry Juana' to the emotive sounds of 'Hurtin' Me'

    December 1, 2017

    Naira Marley’s ‘Marry Juana’ is one of the most ebullient odes to reefer ever written, period. Marley adorns the low-slung BPM percussion of dancehall with bleeping laser synths, topped off with a lolloping, lightly auto-tuned vocal. It’s representative of both the joyous potential that weed has as a muse and a new strain of U.K.

  • Trance Abstractions: A new wave of artists haunt the rave

    New artists that break apart the sonic architecture of trance make up this week's playlist, from the deconstructed sounds of Lorenzo Senni to the saccharine tunes of Toxe

    November 22, 2017

    Trance is often misunderstood. Thought of as a goofy genre, its proto-EDM is seen as overblown festival fodder, which has done a lot to sully its reputation. But Teki Latex’s 2014 mix Deconstructed Trance signaled a reappraisal of the genre, opening the door for a wave of new artists to break its sonic architecture apart and assemble something new out of its skeleton.

  • Sinista Funk: The narcotic darkness of Memphis rap

    The heavy sounds of Three 6 Mafia make up the core of this week's playlist, alongside tunes from the likes of Indo G and Gangsta Pat

    November 10, 2017

    Memphis rap is essentially the product of Three 6 Mafia. DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Lord Infamous found the perfect formula: molasses-slow beats, muttered and threatening lyrics, horror-movie samples and a laissez-faire approach to audio quality. All they had to do to change the game again was turn down the distortion.

  • That’s Why I Be Grinnin’: The sensory experience of Chicago bop

    This week, we venture through tempos with the likes of Stunt Taylor, Sicko Mobb, and Yemi Marie.

    November 3, 2017

    In the history of Chicago’s music scene, there’s an emphasis on genres that lean on heightened tempos and angular percussion, such as ghetto house, juke, and footwork. But there’s also a jagged offshoot of these sometimes stark genres that is perfect for this time of year — when the temperatures drop and we all feel the need for a potent dose of sunshine.

  • Stoned and Starving: Songs to get lost in

    Meandering, fuzzy songs take us for a hazy journey across the U.K. and U.S. in this week's playlist.

    October 27, 2017

    It isn’t the job of a song to express a linear narrative; more often than not they draw and color with shapes and patterns instead. Though the songs in this week’s playlist aren’t strictly narrative tracks, they all share a meandering quality, with fuzzy vignettes of city-wanderings and vast landscapes.

  • Sail Beyond the Sunset: Psych-jams with Elephant 6

    This week, we bring you the sounds of American millenium-era collective The Elephant 6 Recording Company.

    October 20, 2017

    Few songs manage to capture the feeling of a drowsy head-high properly; the sensation of your brain lifting away from your body and taking you someplace else is hard to express. But Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Engine’ pulls it off through meandering lyrics drifting atop an otherworldly theremin.

    ‘Engine’ kicks off this week’s playlist,

  • Soul Bearings: Explorations in contemporary jazz

    This week, we focus on jazz emerging in the past decade, including a range of experimental and traditional approaches.

    October 13, 2017

    Opening Toking Tunes this week is Esperanza Spalding’s ‘I Know You Know,’ from her eponymous 2008 release Esperanza. It’s followed by a tune by Soweto Kinch, a British saxophonist and rapper, from his 2016 release Nonagram.

    Also included are tunes from Kamasi Washington’s 2017 follow up to the incredible 2016 release The Epic,

  • Flesh Barbie: Exploring noise through grime and distortion

    This week's playlist takes its name from Julie Rousse’s ‘Flesh Barbie Techno Fuck,’ a Paris-based artist whose work goes beyond sound.

    October 6, 2017

    This week’s playlist opens with ‘3’ by Pita — a beautifully noisy and distorted track from 1999’s Get Out — and closes with ‘Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain’ by The Body. The tracks offer distinctly different takes on noise, though they’re both thoroughly consuming. Much has been written on the relationship between cannabis and aural perception,

  • A Rainbow in Curved Air: Hues of minimalism

    This week we bring you a playlist of minimalist sounds, mostly from the 20th century, but with a few contemporary excursions into the tradition

    September 29, 2017

    Breaking from the tone of the past few playlists, this week we offer one of calming of minimalist music. From precursors such as Erik Satie’s now-iconic Gymnopedies to recent ventures such as Claire M Singer’s ‘The Molendinar’ and Laraaji’s ‘Zither Dance,’ the playlist stretches from 1888 to 2016.