From Blues To Blunts

BARBARI Fine Tunes, Playlists, Thoughts

Music is me, I am music, music is my name. 

Hi, I’m Melody. Founder of Sway Blunts. Music flows through my blood. The inspiration of this playlist is the history of Black cannabis and music culture, and how they intertwine. 

The Jazz Era (1920s – 1950s)

Let’s start with some blues and jazz. The term “weed” is now a common phrase to describe marijuana. During this time, early social clubs known as Tea Pads could be found throughout Harlem. Their members, primarily Black and brown residents, would listen to jazz and consume cannabis. Cannabis codewords from this era can be found in the music from that time. In the third track of this mix, we hear Bea Foote singing about her “bag of weed” and how it makes her feel good. At the time, it was more of a code to other people who smoked it, also known as “vipers” which comes up in track 4. This is way before white musicians like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan came around making allusions to the medicinal plant. I like to imagine the role that weed played in these musicians’ lives as they lived through the struggles of The Great Depression, the violence of racism, and systemic oppression. 

Sixties Era Counterculture (1960s – 1980s)

Next, we slide up to the radical sixties. Jimmy Hendrix busting out new guitar riffs, KC and the Sunshine Band grooving out the funk, and everyone’s smoking weed. The Thai Stick made its US debut amidst the crowds of hippies, but it was very different from the ones you can get today. They were typically nugs literally wrapped around a stick with twine, and laced with opium. 

Rise Of R&B (1980s – today)

From there, we get to dip into the R&B scene of the 80s through the 2000’s and today. Now we’re in my era, the stuff of my childhood. RnB is heavily influenced by weed. Black artists take back the mic when it comes to expressing their love of marijuana with songs like “Pass the Dutch” by our queen, Missy Elliot, and “How to Roll a Blunt,” by Redman. I even threw a little reggae in there.

This playlist is some of my favorite songs to smoke to.  I hope everyone finds something they haven’t heard yet in there. I also hope it serves as inspiration for those of us who love to smoke pot, to learn more about what my ancestors had to go through for us to light up a blunt today. 

Mel’s BIO:

Melody Wright moved to Portland, Oregon six years ago from L.A. with a background in nursing and healthcare. Now specializing in cannabis and hemp, their focus is on building community with other BIPOC and queer people in cannabis and running Sway with their wife Sonia Fay. Sway is a Black and queer-owned purveyor of fine hemp blunts, and will be launching their first THC blunt this year.