After working at The Denver Post as music critic and entertainment editor for more than a decade, Ricardo Baca founded The Cannabist, legal marijuana's pioneering paper of record and one of the most influential cannabis outlets around. He also championed the role of the pot paper’s contributing editor to industry acclaim. Since, Fortune magazine ranks Baca as one of the seven most powerful people in American cannabis, while the Brookings Institution says he's one of 12 key people to watch in marijuana policy. Considered by Vice as "the nation's most prestigious weed editor," Baca is also the subject of the feature-length documentary Rolling Papers. He also founded the music blog Reverb and co-founded The UMS music festival. From Denver music critic to powerful pot pioneer, anticipation awaits guru Baca’s picks for your next sesh…
“No Type” by Rae Sremmurd
I have a deep appreciation for those moments when hip-hop gets weird, and this is one of them. I was definitely stoned when my lady introduced me to Rae Sremmurd years ago. Instantly, I was taken with the production and their voices. I loved their flagrant use of of white space -- and their Kendrick-like ability to embrace the strange and stray from played-out norms. It’s worth noting this track represents Rae Sremmurd pre-mannequin challenge.
“Pressure Drop” by Toots and the Maytals
If we're talking feel-good reggae in the desert-island construct, I don't even need to think about it: This is the jam I'm packing alongside my beach towel. Sure, the song is relatively simple, but the vocals are anything but. When Toots Hibbert reaches up an octave in the chorus, the goosebumps pop up. And when he reaches even higher for that iconic "oh yeaaaaaaah," I feel it in my soul. When I hear this song and I'm alone, in the car or at home, you know I try and sing along. But even then, when I'm away from judging ears that may cringe at my inability to full-throatedly hit those soaring verses, I can't seem to capture Hibbert's passionate howl. Maybe someday I will. Surely, I won't stop trying.
“Young Pilgrims” by The Shins
Speaking of sing-alongs, this is a great one. In fact, it's my favorite. I remember reviewing this record, Chutes Too Narrow, back in my music-critic days (2003 to be exact). This track wasn't a single, but it stood out to me with its dynamic pop structure, its playful lyrical interplay, its sheer whimsy. While I occasionally appreciate the stark quiet of an empty room when I sesh, most of my seshes are accompanied by music, and The Shins' thoughtful, layered chamber pop is something I return to, regularly. Call it my indie-rock security blanket.
“What We Gained in the Fire” by The Mynabirds
You're stoned in a dim room wearing headphones. First you hear the basic piano progression. Then the minimalist drums. Then kicks in the voice -- and her voice, that voice, is as stunning as it is soulful. This near-perfect pop ballad should be standard on indie-leaning adult-alternative radio -- even Pitchfork celebrated the record for "the quality of the material and the strength of her voice." But, tragically, you've never heard it before. Now is your chance (you're welcome, in advance). Simply press play, turn down the lights and take it all in.
“Legend Has It” by Run the Jewels
As mainstream hip-hop struggles to find another unique voice, I love that this supergroup is charging forward and holding down the underground. The chaotic, rhythmic interplay between Killer Mike and El-P gets me amped like few groups do. Sometimes after a long work day I'll come home and drop a Vitamin B and a 10-milligram sativa-dominant edible while pumping RTJ to get myself ready for the evening. It's a magical cocktail, and it almost always wakes me up for the night ahead.
Stay up-to-date on all things Ricardo Baca online: