Is Modern Music Stoned?

March 20, 2019


Lately a new current seems to have been set in (slow) motion wherein a significant deal of new music is made stoned, made for stoners, and simply sounds stoned itself. Devoid of excessive impulses, a lot of modern music has a slightly slacky beat and a bass line that has its listeners kick back and relax. But what happened here? Did the music business just light a collective jay just to take the edge off?


 [ Tadow - Madego & FKJ. 2017 ]


Tadow by Masego & FKJ (2017) comes to mind as the perfect example and perhaps epitome of this development. Soulfully slow with some highly catchy phonetic phrases the song is a guaranteed ear worm. Yet it is an ear worm that will never annoy for it has a certain passiveness about it that does not intrude. In other words, nothing about it punctuates. Rather, It wallows the listener in a warm blanket, far away from the world of too many stimuli.


While this is only one example, the levels of THC running through the veins of the music industry emanate in a homogenous sound found throughout various genres. From mumblerap to bedroom indie, and lo-fi house to chillstep, popular music hasn’t sounded this stoned since Peter Tosh put out Bush Doctor in 1978. 


To put its cause in a floral allegory: this weed is deeply rooted in legislative and technical grounds. It simply mirrors the worldwide upsurge in pot use, not in the least place due to decriminalisation. With the amount of stoners growing there develops a parallel demand for music to accompany a smoking sesh, especially now that everyone in fact has a speaker in their jeans’ pocket. The audio quality of phone speakers is just about good enough to perceive a lo-fi hip hop beat, which is just about good enough to not descend in silence. 


[ Best of Trip-Hop & Downtempo & Lo-Fi & Nujazz Tracks I Missed Re-Re-Upload by S!X Music, 2018 ]


Reggae has long lost its monopoly on herb-based music, and its offspring (dub, jungle, ska) only still accounts for a small share in the world of music made for smokers. Even at the outer edges of pop music’s spectrum — from Sunn O)))’s doom metal to whatever music Mac Demarco makes — plumes of smoke rise up above the audience from people passing a Dutchie ‘pon their left hand side. 


Whether the cannabisation of popular music forms a problem is up to its audience. Little is known about the long-term effects of cannabinoids on sound except for the fact that it seems as if someone accidentally switched the pace in pop music from 45 to 33rpm. Either way, the abundance of low-cut filters found in music today endows it with a passivity that is best enjoyed with least effort. So kick back, relax, and float along the main stream.

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