If there is a day you may need to roll up the fattest doobie of your life, today may be it. We are all on pins and needles. Dan Vinkovetsky (formerly Danny Danko of High Times) is an editor, writer, and photographer who was the Senior Cultivation Editor of High Times Magazine for 18 years. He has judged more Cannabis Cups than anyone else on Earth. He is the author of "The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains" (2011) and "Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana" (2018). He hosted the podcast "Free Weed from Danny Danko" from 2011-2018 and now hosts the cannabis cultivation podcast “Grow Bud Yourself!” As of 2020, Danny is also the editor of Northeast Leaf Magazine.
1. Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul - Fallin’
From an amazing soundtrack to a pretty crappy movie, this ode to rappers who “fell off” is a devastating diss record that nobody expected from the ever-mellow De La Soul. Over a soulful groove from Teenage Fanclub as the base and a Tom Petty sample for the “chorus,” the trio of Posdnuos, Trugoy and Maseo manage to somehow be self-deprecating and dope at the same time - a rarity in rap.
2. Nicky Thomas - Love of the Common People
I’ve been obsessed with this song for decades. Originally a folk song, it’s since been covered by everyone from Leonard Nimoy to Paul Jones. But it’s Nicky Thomas’ reggae version that stands out as a true ode to the poor and downtrodden. Mr. Thomas himself lived a tumultuous life and it’s reflected in this erratic yet riveting live performance. I prefer the original version to the Trojan records one (they added an unnecessary string section) but both are still captivating.
3. The Clash - This is Radio Clash
Pretty much any song from The Clash could’ve made this list but this one wins out due to the perfect blend of punk and reggae rhythms and the video featuring 80’s New York City with a cameo from graffiti artist Futura 2000. Timely lyrics such as “Forces have been looting my humanity, Curfews have been curbing the end of liberty” remind us that times really haven’t changed all that much.
4. EPMD - Let The Funk Flow
This song is impossibly funky and pairs perfectly with a joint of Super Lemon Haze. This is mumble rap from 1989 that stands up to this very day. Erick and Parrish may have been Making Dollars (get it - EMPD?) but it also sounded like they were chewing on marbles. Anyway, the rhymes are so good they don’t need to be pronounced properly and the Beastie Boys sample seals the deal.
5. Run The Jewels - Ooh La La
I’ve been a fan of Killer Mike and El P since before they teamed up to form Run the Jewels and even got to meet them when they performed at the 2013 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. Here, DJ Premier has taken a Nice & Smooth sample (Greg Nice appears in the apocalyptic video) and turned it into a gargantuan beast of a song that’s perfect for our times. “When we talk we Kalashnikov” indeed. When someone tells you hip-hop sucks these days, play them this.