Ah, the happiest holiday of the year is upon us! Around the country, thousands of people will be getting together to celebrate our favorite plant, myself included. And what goes better with a spliff of some good ganja than some reggae music? That's right -- reggae music about ganja. Below is the official Mile Highs and Lows 4/20 reggae playlist cultivated by yours truly.
William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read his reviews over at our ganja blog, Mile Highs and Lows.
14. "Chalice in the palace" - U-Roy
The king of Jamaican toasting, U-Roy delivers signature voice stylings about puffing one with the Queen of England over Pat Kelly's version of The Impression's tune "Minstrel and Queen" for a classic stoney staple of the early dub music U-Roy helped pioneer.
13. "Pass the Kouchie" - The Mighty Diamonds
A Rasta vocal trio band, the Mighty Diamonds found a hit in Jamaica in 1981 with this song which has instructed countless joint circles as to which way to rotate the spliff ever since. The song was released a year later as "Pass the Dutchie" by a black British boy reggae band, Musical Youth -- all of whom denied that the song had anything to do with ganja smoking. To this day nobody believes them.
12. I Love Marijuana - Linval Thompson
Now more known for his production work in Jamaica, Kingston's Linval Thompson loves marijuana in his heart and soul, and it gives him a deep meditation -- even drawing the stuff! It also gives some insight into the ganja trade of the late 1970s between the USA and Jamaica: "The white man love to smoke marijuana, the black man love to cultivate it."
11. No Cocaine - Alborosie
Originally from Italy, Alborosie is an ital-eating Rasta musician in Kingston who gets a lot of love from the little island. He's found his way onto this list twice, this first song about meeting crack heads in England and staying true to his natural roots. For those of you patois-challenged, here's the chorus: "No coca, no coca, no coca inna mi brain/No coca and nuh evro a cyan ingo mi vein/'Cos I love marijuana/'Cos man a real ganja farmer
10. Still Blazin' - Alborosie
Told you that dude was on here twice. The song parallels Alborosie's love of Jah with blazing on Jah herb. The remix of this song by Wiz Khalifa on his Kush and Orange Juice mixtape is also a stoney song worth checking out.
They both have their great moments. The Toyes version is more of a slinky, funky reggae riddim' with a great analog sound and killer bass lines. The Sublime version (arguably more popular) samples the movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Easy E's "No More ?'s" and the Ziggens "Outside!". Add bong sound effects and Sublime's signature punk rock/reggae touch, and they instantly make it their own.
8. "Who's Got the Herb?" - Human Rights (HR)
Speaking of punk rock... Singer HR's roots-reggae side projects still have the edge he had with his other, more hardcore band, Bad Brains. This song has since been
butchered covered by 311 - but don't let that stop you from enjoying the original.
7. "Police in Helicopter" - John Holt
Though known as a lovers'-rock kind of dude, John Holt and his 1983 album, Police in Helicopter, as well as the song of the same name, are hard-core. Just look at this album cover. The song pretty much speaks for itself: If The Man keeps effing with the herb plants, the herb planter is going to burn down The Man's crops of sugar cane, corn and anything else they feel like burning down.
6. Under mi Sensi - Barrington Levy
Barrington Levy wrote a lot of songs referencing ganja, and he's still around singing them to this day. Literally. Mr. Levy is performing this week at City Hall along with Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad.
5. "Ganja Smuggling" - Eek-a-Mouse
Eek-a-Mouse's sing-talking delivery and scatting is what gets you first, sure. Bidibongbongbidibongbongbidbeng can be hard to get past. But he's telling the story of how a boy from the ghetto went from sleeping on the dirt floor with his family to being a mogul and owning a big house on the hill protected from the hurricanes that used to tear up his home. All because he grew some good herb and sold it to some smugglers.
4. "I Shot the Sheriff" - Bob Marley
You think your love of cannabis is hard-core? The narrator in the song shoots the dastardly Sheriff John Brown because the bastard wouldn't stop destroying the narrator's ganja plants. And we're not even talking flowers either. Just the seedlings.
3.Sensimilla - Barrington Levy
Yes, music is better with cannabis -- especially music about cannabis. At the time this song was written, the concept of sinsemilla (Spanish for "without seed") was taking off among the ganja growers and smugglers from Columbia up through the Caribbean and Mexico as a way of increasing quality and quantity on the plants by removing male plants early on to prevent seed production. It's like rappers today rhyming about purple bushes of kush -- only more awesome.
2. Easy Skankin' - Bob Marley
There's nothing I can't say about herb and life that Robert Nesta Marley hasn't put a million times more eloquently through song.
1. Legalize it - Peter Tosh
Tosh was an innovator and brilliant musician as well as a ganja crusader who wrote what is arguably the top pro-cannabis anthems ever written. This tune also has the distinction as being the first song I ever listened to when I got stoned for the very first time (thanks, cool cousin R.D.). Because of Peter Tosh, I learned that herb is also called tampeh, the weed, collie, marijuana and ganja. I learned not to criticize it, and that nurses, doctors, judges, and even lawyers smoke it (though clearly not enough of the latter two).
Happy 4/20, friends.
"Legalize it. That's the best thing you can do."
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