The Best Music to Listen to When You’re High: A Pop-Head’s Guide

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Scenario: You’ve just taken a hit. You go to your room, turn off the lights, grab your headphones and turn the volume all the way up. Closing your eyes, you rest your head on the pillow, maybe bob your foot along, and just vibe.

Happiness is different for everyone, but we wager that, for many cannabis-enthusiasts, it looks a lot like this.

There’s actually some science behind why music and marijuana pair so well. It has to do with memory.

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When you’re high, your brain has a hard time processing short-term memories, thanks to the compounds in cannabis disrupting your neural signaling. This phenomena makes you will feel more present in each moment. Everything you experience will seem like a new discovery rather than, well, a tired refrain.

In his TED Talk, Daniel Levitin, a professor of neuroscience at McGill University, explained it this way:

“Unable to explicitly keep in mind what has just been played, or to think ahead to what might be played, people stoned on pot tend to hear music from note to note.”

All to say, that song you heard last time you blazed up, in fact, hit differently.

Obviously, the playlist for the “high”-est quality jam sesh is entirely dependent on what music gets you excited. If you’re not sure what you like, though, or just want something fresh, we’ve got you covered.

We searched through dozens of Twitter and Reddit posts on the subject to find five musical genres that will sound great when you’re high.

Reggae: for positive vibes

Whether you’re actually at the beach or just need to get yourself there mentally, upbeat island sounds may be the perfect soundtrack to your high. Many reggae artists of course specifically produce songs celebrating weed.

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There’s something quintessential about Bob Marley and a good toke, but if you want something a little less obvious, try exploring the work of Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, or Eek A Mouse.

Rock: to blow your mind

Here’s an excuse to dust off your old records. Some of the Beatles’ work was inspired by or written under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. It’s why their sound (and that of a handful of other artists of the 60’s and 70’s) is often called “psychedelic rock.” According to Sir Paul McCartney, “Got to Get You Into My Life” was about pot.

Fast forward to the 90’s and punk rock contributed to the cannabis community in its own way – by giving cannabis-enthusiasts a mind trip like no other. Try listening to Nirvana after smoking sativa and you’ll see what we mean.

Hip Hop: for the beat

From Snoop Dogg to Wiz Khalifa, many hip hop icons are also the closest thing the cannabis world has to patron saints, unapologetically speaking about their cannabis use in public and, for some, opening their own cannabis businesses.

But it’s not just because of their canna-activism that you should consider these artists next time your buzzed. Many cannabis-enthusiasts say hip hop rap is their favorite music to listen to high, mostly because they feel cannabis makes them better able to appreciate rhythm.

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To test this effect at full force, try listening to Outkast, Flatbush Zombies, or The Underachievers.

Electronica: for all the feels

There’s a reason there are a lot of high people at EDM (electronic dance music) clubs. Electronica is cerebral and invigorating, designed to make you move your body. Many people use cannabis to quiet that critical voice in their head that inhibits them from having fun on the dance floor. Plus, that rush of energy you get when the base drops will likely be much more intense when you’re high.

Because electronica is less about lyrics than vibes, the songs you choose should really depend on what mood you’re in. For a chill buzz, try listening to anything by Flume. If you want something more energized, Avicii will definitely get your blood pumping.

Early Jazz: for old times’ sake

Ok, so bebop may not be what takes most of you to that whimsical higher plane, but hear us out. Early jazz artists were the first musicians known to have used cannabis to inspire their work, and they’re to thank for much of the cannabis slang we used today. Louis Armstrong, a lifelong cannabis user, even produced a recording called “Muggles,” a nickname for cannabis in the 20’s and 30’s.

Not only is jazz fun to play high (as these artists discovered,) it’s also fun to listen to. If the unpredictable nature of jazz usually frustrates you, take an edible and your mind will likely be more willing to flow with the music’s many twists and turns.

Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to