A Cross-Genre 4/20 Mixtape for the Ages

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Yes, it’s 4/20, which means that stoners the world over are rejoicing over having a vaguely legitimate reason to get colossally baked this afternoon. There are plenty of songs out there about weed (we’re looking at you, Snoop), but they don’t necessarily make the best soundtrack for celebrating the herb -– so we’ve thoughtfully composed a psychedelic stoner mixtape that moves through a range of genres in the hope of providing a fine old soundtrack to some extracurricular pursuits this afternoon. (We’ve tried to go for selections that aren’t blindingly obvious –- with one exception -– so no Bob Marley, or Grateful Dead.)

Flaming Lips – “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” (5:17)

Hopefully you won’t be smoking yourself into full-blown, psychedelic-style ego death, but assuming you don’t, this stately and gorgeous meditation on the nature of life and death is the perfect soundtrack to begin a long session of couch-bound navel-gazing.

Animal Collective feat. Vashti Bunyan — “Prospect Hummer” (4:41)

Psychedelic music past and present met on Animal Collective’s 2005 Prospect Hummer EP, which united the band with Vashti Bunyan, who’d just been lured out of a 30-year retirement by Devendra Banhart and was preparing to release a new album, her first since 1970. The collaboration worked a treat, and if you’re planning on celebrating 4/20 in a sunny meadow somewhere, the title track should be just the ticket.

Gorillaz – “Slow Country” (3:36)

Plenty of the tracks on the first Gorillaz album have a decidedly toasted feeling to them, but this is our choice for 4:30pm. That loping beat (sampled from The Specials’ “Ghost Town”), that echoing reverb -– if THC wasn’t involved here somehow, we’ll eat our collective hats. And all the corn chips, too.

Cypress Hill – “Hits from the Bong” (2:41)

OK, this is the track that breaks our “no blindingly obvious selections” rule, but come on -– you can’t make a stoner mixtape that doesn’t include this. Sing along: “Plug it, unplug it/Don’t strain/I love you Mary Jane…”

Warren G feat. Nate Dogg – “Regulate” (4:09)

There are plenty of hip hop tracks about weed, but our pick for this tape is a song that only has a tenuous lyrical connection to the herb itself (if you discount that whole “If you smoke like I smoke, you’ll be high like every day” outro, that is). The late Nate Dogg’s voice is like honey, and the ultra-smooth beat, built around a sample from Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’,” is made for nodding your head to as you reach for the bowl again. And again. And…

Flying Lotus – “Zodiac Shit” (2:45)

If you want really psychedelic hip hop, then you need look no further than Mr. Flying Lotus. If this song isn’t trippy enough on its own, you can amuse yourself with the video.

LCD Soundsystem – “Someone Great” (3:50)

Several commenters requested this last time we compiled a 4/20 mixtape, and yeah, we can certainly see what they were getting at. The intricate arrangements are the sort of thing you can spend hours listening to, eyes closed, tracing the path of that skittering beat through the glistening synth pads. You can even forget that James Murphy’s lyrics are chronicling a bad break-up.

Can – “Pinch” (9:31)

In a similar vein, the whacked-out, ever-shifting rhythm of “Pinch” is the sort of thing that has preoccupied stoner music nerds and scared, unsuspecting roommates ever since the release of Can’s majestic Ege Bamyasi in 1972. “Dude! What the hell is this?”

Black Mountain – “Wucan” (6:03)

What’s a stoner tape without stoner rock? You could substitute Kyuss or something from QOTSA’s Desert Sessions records here, or maybe a track from a band like Sleepy Sun, but we’re quite partial to the sounds of Vancouver five-piece Black Mountain. Turn on, tune in, and bobble along on that driving, repetitive bassline (and that spiraling guitar riff).

Spacemen 3 – “That’s Just Fine (vocal version)” (7:35)

The fact that this is taken from a record called Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To should give some sort of idea as to the general mood. You could also substitute pretty much anything off the first Spiritualized record… We -– um, sorry, a friend of ours, that is –- once spent an afternoon on the living room floor with that particular album on constant repeat after an encounter with some unexpectedly strong Jamaican ganja.

Rodriguez – “Sugar Man” (3:49)

Lyrically, Sixto Rodriguez’s forlorn appeal for the return of his drug dealer probably isn’t the most cheerful material we could have included here, but still, this song is an overlooked ‘60s classic that deserves a place on any self-respecting psych compilation. The middle eight is the aural equivalent of that whacked-out bit in Easy Rider where everything goes weeeeeeird.

Hype Williams – “Han Dynasty Part Three” (5:07)

Speaking of going weird, the echoing guitar figures of this hypnotic jam from the London/Berlin duo makes for a nice segue into some introverted sounds. It’s definitely stoner music -– as evidenced by the fact that the album cover has a picture of someone exhaling a nice old puff of smoke. Just watch that the sudden stab of noise at about 1:26 doesn’t jolt everyone off the couch.

Pocahaunted – “Riddim Queen” (7:53)

Dude. This shit is getting heavy

King Tubby – “Sensimilia Dub” (3:24)

… so we’d best lighten the mood with with this ultra laid-back dubplate from one of Jamaica’s greatest producers. The name is topical, obviously, but the mood is more one of pleasant toastedness than the oppressive, paranoid feeling that a lot of darker-flavored dub tends to invoke after several hours strapped into the bucket bong.

Lindstrøm – “Where You Go I Go Too” (28:58)

By this stage you’re probably too baked to flip the tape anyway, so hey, why not just include a psychedelic epic that ebbs and flows like some glowing cosmic ocean, and works through several movements over the course of nearly half an hour. It’s so epic that only half of it would fit on YouTube, but you get the idea -– sit back on the couch, close your eyes and… drift. Just make sure you’ve got the snack food handy. (If synths aren’t your thing, we recommend substituting Sonic Youth’s “The Diamond Sea” at this point.)

Grouper – “Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping” (2:53)

And now it’s time for a nice old snooze.