Marijuana Laws May Be Changing, But These Rebel Music Selections Will Keep Playing Forever Every day brings new headlines about voters in the U.S.A. passing medical marijuana laws and American states decriminalizing reefer—even as the Federal government reserves the right to swoop in and prosecute whoever however whenever. Meanwhile venture capitalists continue to align themselves with the Bob Marley estate in order to build a global ganja brand. It feels like a bright new day in the long-running batttle to legalize Jamaica's national herb. But don't sleep: the Governor General has yet to sign the proposal that would allow Rastas to cultivate for personal use and corporations to cultivate for profit. And Jamaica's Governor General still answers to the Queen of England, so there's no telling what will happen. Meanwhile youths all over the world are still getting locked up for illegal possession of the wisdom weed. So the binghi drums have to beat and songs like these have to play, words sounds and power. These are not just "weed tunes" but songs about the real-life struggles surrounding ganja prohibition. say are they just one-line shout-outs, like the tune where Bounty and Cham said "tell the government free up the weed policy," as wicked as that was. These are the rabble-rousing songs dedicated to defending marijuana growers and sellers and smokers from all forms of downpression. Some relate to the nitty-gritty details of the hustler's life, others focus on police efforts to fight against the weed, while others make the case for legalization. Any topic that could inspire so much great music has to be important. Just like Josey Wales said on track #20, "It Haffi Bun." And these songs have to play. Audio After The Jump; Countdown Continues Above

#40 Mystic Revealers ft. Chronixx "Herb Must Legalize Now"

Billy Mystic links back with Chronixx di General, who was once one of the youths who performed at Mystic's Jamnesia surf club in Bull Bay. "Since we call for the legalization of the weed inna Jamaica, the government introduce a bill to decriminalize the weed," said Billy Mystic on the day of the big announcement, February 25, which also happens to be his birthday. "It's a step in the right direction, but they just decriminalize it. We want it legalize too so we still push out the sound." Mystic revealed that the current version is just a "pre-release" of the song which will eventually feature other guest vocals. "We still ah work pon it. We ah put some other artists pon it." Stay tuned.

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Tony Rebel "The Herb"

Circa 1991 Rebel drops herbalistic geopolitical sociological metaphysics over a hardcore Penthouse digital riddim courtesy of in-house engineer Dave “Rude Boy” Kelly. Not only is the original guerilla’s flow tight but his argument and reasoning are on point and unassailable. “Them no stop plant it up inna California,” Rebel foresees decades ahead of time, “and down inna Jamaica poor people ah suffer.”

Chezidek "Leave The Trees"

This warm & easy 2005 release on the Our Promotion label set the stage for the biggest bust of Chezidek’s career. Beyond railing against the evils of cocaine and rum, the song boasts one of reggae’s rare environmentalist moments when Chezzy pleads “Can’t you see that you’re boring a hole in the ozone layer??”

Sanchez "Chronic"

Addressing entire tune to “Mr. Babylon” Sanchez delivers an impassioned defense of righteous herb smokers. “I don’t smoke the chronic to cause botheration to Babylon,” he declares. Yet still “They make a raid and ah diss before they go look for some notorious terrorist.” Luckily, the song says, the sheep of Jah Jah’s pasture are always protected.

Marlon Asher "Ganja Farmer"

Trinidad is better known for rum, whisky, and “whine” than for cannabis, where ridiculously tough ganja penalties have driven the Rasta farmers to extreme measures. (Cocaine traffickers seem to have a much easier time flowing through T&T, but that’s another story.) “Way up inna the hills where me plant me ganja,” Asher sings in this cheerfully defiant tune. By the song’s end the humble herb farmer rises a big stinkin’ rocket launcher to shoot down a poice helicopter. Bottom line: Don’t ramp with the ganja farmer.

Beenie Man & Silver Cat "Chronic"

Shocking Vibes ’95 lick of Jammy’s “Hol A Fresh” / “Four Season Lover” riddim had a faster tempo and crazy energy and Beenie Man tore it up three different ways “Gun Finger” and “Defend Apache” were soundboy killers but the maddest tune of all was Moses alongside Shocking Vibes soldier Silver Cat stating the painfully obvious with irrefutable authority: “Tell me how them ah go stop it? When they can’t stop man from bun the chronic.” Blaze it up gentlemen.

Sugar Minott "Herbman Hustling"

Although the impact of King Jammy’s “Sleng Teng” riddim was massive, it was not the very first “computerized” riddim employed by Jamaican reggae producers. Sly & Robbie’s “Herbman Hustling” preceded Sleng Teng by several months, with cuts by Yellowman, Papa Biggie, and this one, by the late great singer producer sound system operator and overall dancehall pioneer Lincoln “Sugar” Minott. “I know it’s my neck I’m risking,” Sugar sings, “but you see it’s my daily living.” Not even the sweetness of Sugar’s voice can disguise the bitter reality behind this tune.

Super Cat "Chalice A Lick"

Classic 1988 Wild Apache selection taken from the “Sweet for My Sweets” album. Over a bouncy computerized version of the “Full Up” riddim, a year-to-year favorite when DJs get to chanting about the herb, Cat flings down some serious lyrics about smoking his sacred water pipe. “From ganja was found on Solomon’s grave / That’s why it should be part of Jamaica’s trade / But the beast out a road them nah set no trade / All them do is set up curfew and bare raid.”

Ninja Man "Legalize The Herb"

“Near This!” Ninja begins this Exterminator classic from 1990. “Leaders of all nations.” Calling for a conference to reason about sensimilla policy, the Don Gorgon argues to presidents and prime ministers that freeing up the healing of the nation will “Get rid of the crackhead them.” Released during a time when Ninja was rumored to dabble in the white powder, the track—set to Fattis Burrell’s massive “Hot Stepper” diddim—caused a sensation. But Ninja’s argument makes perfect sense, accounting for social benefits as well as tax revenues. “Sell it to the English and the Americans,” he rhymes, “and sell it to the doctor in the lab Jah mon.” Upon closer inspection, the Front Teeth Gold Teeth Brush Teeth With Toothpaste Don Gorgon put forward a proposal that’s in complete accord with the one Jamaica’s parliament just co-signed—and did so 25 years earlier!

Eek A Mouse "Ganja Smuggling"

One of dancehall reggae most curious characters, six-foot-six Eek A Mouse would be a champion boxer if he didn’t decide to use his powers for knocking out dibby dibby sound boys. Here he narrates the tale of an early Sunday morning marijuana airlift, reflecting on the “sufferation” his family has endured, and looking forward to the time when he can “model up the lane in a gold rope chain” with his girl named Jane. The narrative is nuanced, eloquent, and even epic—and although it’s related in Mouse’s unique bong-bong-diddly style, it makes a strong case for the economic imperative driving the ganja trade. How will the current legalization efforts affect people like the Mouse and his mommy and daddy? Time will tell.

Collie Buddz "Come Around"

When Bermuda bad bwoy Colin “Collie Buddz” Harper is on the mic, you can be sure “bare ganjaman tune lick from the sound.” On this breakout hit, built from the horns from Zap Pow’s classic “Last War,” Collie savors the pleasures of the ganja but also observes that “ever since the herbs slow down, police and rudeboy them inna showdown” and winds up wondering “When them ah go realize? Good works man ah advertise… Government them ah terrorize. Corporation them a capitalize while the farmer man ah beg a likkle bly.” Real talk.

Peter Tosh "Cold Blood"

While not solely a song about ganja, this mesmerizing cut off Tosh’s “Wanted Dread and Alive” album enacts a trial on ganja charges. “You are brought before this court for having ganja in your possession,” a voice rumbles. “Guilty or not guilty?” Tosh wastes no time replying. “Not guilty, your honor. How could one man do such a thing? Ganja—it is totally impossible, your honor.” Aside from his laughable response, the song itself is deadly serious. “I can remember when I was framed and jailed and brutalized,” Tosh goes on to sing, explaining that every time he sees “Babylon” his blood runs cold. As reggae historian Roger Steffens wrote, Peter had his reasons. At one so-called “Peace Concert” Tosh took the stage in front of thousands and “demanded the legalization of marijuana and a retreat from foreign exploitation of Jamaica’s precious national resources. In language that was at once uncompromising, eloquent and humorously obscene, Tosh became the living embodiment of the conscience of his nation. His impassioned calls led a few months later to his being beaten horrendously and left for dead in a prison cell. During the nine years of life he had remaining, he never fully recovered from this near-lethal attack by Jamaican police.”

Sizzla "Got It Right Here"

Sizzla chooses to open this defiant ganja tune from his Bobby Digital masterpiece “Da Real Thing” with a dramatic exchange between ganja-burning youth and arresting officer. “Officer, no trouble him!” Sizzla pleads. “Ah just one spliff him have.” The conflict is barely established before Kalonji begins boasting about just how much marijuana him and his bredrens are holding and just how little they care—ZERO—what Babylon think about it. Rebel music for real.

Jacob Miller "Healing of the Nation"

Having made his point amongst the ganja supporter Killer Miller turns his attention to government minsters on this tune, begging them a word or two. He then points out, politely but firmly, that official policy does not fight against rum or cigarettes, despite the well-known harmful effects of both substances. Meanwhile, ganja, the healing of the nation, which was found upon Solomon’s grave, gets persecuted and prosecuted. How long would it take for simple logic to triumph? Longer than Jakes had to live.

Sizzla "Free Up The Herbs"

Floating peacefully above the ethereal “I Know Myself” riddim, Sizzla Kalonji pleads the cause of the humble herb in a feathery falsetto that sounds as if it comes straight from the heart. “Them have a nerve, chat bout them wan’ fight it now,” goes the refrain, “Free up the herbs and make we light it now.”

Sean Paul "We Be Burnin' (Legalize It)"

According to sources within the camp, Sean Paul’s team was divided on whether it was a good idea to lead off “The Trinity” (the follow-up to his breakthrough “Dutty Rock” album) with another weed tune. “Gimme The Light” had been the song that helped bust the dancehall DJ to the urban and pop markets, but what if he got pigeonholed as “the weed guy”? Driven by Renaissance Disco’s high-energy Stepz riddim—which was more like a disco or house tempo than traditional dancehall—Sean Paul’s lead single “We Be Burning” shot to the Top 10 of just about every chart on the planet. The edited version changed “Legalize It” to “Recognize It” but the verse about “when you see the SP floatin’ don’t provoke him cause the weed weh me smokin’ ah no joke thing” remained unchanged. These days Sean is more of a tea-sipper rather than a spliff-smoker, but he’s still down for the cause.

Lone Ranger "Quarter Pound of Ishen"

From the crucial Studio One album “On The Other Side of Dub” Lone Ranger rides the original “Pick Up The Pieces” riddim and presents the ultimate argument for ganja legalization: “Leggo violence and mek we smoke ishens.” Thus stated, the profound simplicity of the choice fairly licks the listener in the head. Do like the Ranger said, “Bring the chalice come” and bun it till it done. What in the world are you waiting for?

Buju Banton "Legalize It"

Gargamel Records released this tune as an double-A-side 12-inch backed with Banton’s hard-hitting soundbwoy boast called “Run The Place.” But his herb tune on the same riddim hits twice as hard with its indignant opening words: “Don’t make your cigarette smoke irritate me eyes—cause you no wan’ me burn the weed fi get wise.” Adopting Peter Tosh’s memorable catchphrase as his title, Banton rails against the evils of “cocaine, heroin, hardcore drugs” as he hails ganja as a “blessing from the father up above.” Especially the good strong collie produced down a yard. “Nah go important ganja from abroad / California and Texas plant ganja hard / It nuh strong like fe we own so them wan’ draw card.” No watch no face.

Bounty Killer "Smoke The Herb"

“It make me think constructive and brave,” the Warlord declares in this classic endorsement of the wisdom weed. “I’m serious, me nah mek no joke,” he affirms, “Ganja me smoke and not coke.” But about halfway through the tune Killer blazes up the fire hotter. “Rasta inna the hills and them no stop cultivate / Copter fly down from nowhere outer space… / Soldier pon foot and them no stop circulate… / Them bomb down we camp Kouchie haffi migrate.” Ah so the ting set.

Carlton Livingston "Chalice In Hand"

One of the mightiest tracks Sly & Robbie ever gave George Phang for his Power House label inspires Carlton Livingston to sing the second crucial weed tune in his catalog, a metaphorical journey that’s every bit as daunting as the literal car trip detailed in “100 Weight of Collie Weed.” Trodding through the jungle could mean just about anything from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” to Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle.” Wherever you find yourself, try to keep that chalice in hand.

Sizzla "Humble Thought"

Bubbling live with the Firehouse Crew in Birmingham, UK, Kalonji delivers what may well be the definitive defiant herbalistic declaration that “Babylon couldn’t stop this one a bumbaclaat.” Maybe not exactly a “humble thought,” but so Kalonji ah dweet—uzeet.

Capleton "Chalice"

One of King Shango’s signature tunes, this African Star prodution blends live isntruments incuding the legendary Bongo Herman on percussions with a hard-driving computer riddim and rapid-fire lyrics that elevate the ceremonial blazing of the sacred chillum pipe to a holy Rastafarian sacrament akin to beating the kette drum, shaking the tamborine and shaker, or waving the ites green and gold banner, and burning fire on Rome and the corruption it represents to students of both Ethiopian and Vatican history. Behold, the apotheosis of herb.

Peter Tosh "Bush Doctor"

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Surgeon General, Tosh opens this tune with a warning that cigarette smoking is a dangerous hazard to your health! Meanwhile ganja is good for glaucoma, cancer, asthma and more. His logic is unassailable and explains why corporations like Marley Naturals and Timeless Herbal Care Ltd have invested millions to develop a medical marijuana industry in Jamaica and quietly usher legislature through the Jamaican parliament. Yes that’s Keith Richards twangin’ away at his Les Paul in the background while the Stepping Razor hops off his unicycle and commands “Legalize marijuana, right here in Jamaica.” The “Bush Doctor” LP was released in 1978 under Tosh’s deal with Rolling Stones records. The original pressing had a scratch-and-sniff sticker that reeked of ganja, causing the record to be banned by certain retailers. The album was recorded before the infamous incident wherein Tosh decided he didn’t particularly want to vacate Keith’s Jamaican estate, where Tosh had been housesitting—and threatened to shoot Keith if he dared to come home. Keith of course told him he’d better shoot straight cause he was on the way, after which their working relationship deteriorated. The tune stands as one of Tosh’s strongest proclamations on decriminalizing the healing of the nation.

Queen Ifrica "Fly The Gate"

“Marijuana value more than oil,” Ifrica observes on this acapella rendition of reggae’s heaviest new ganja tune in years. “Colorado just have the world a smile / Peter Tosh you ah me don, just check the file.” Of course the Queen doesn’t overlook the hypocrisy of a government that used to burn ganja and now sees it as an economic engine. “Real tribulation Rastaman bear, to walk with a one little spliff around here.” So dem ah move.

Buju Banton "Sensimilla Persecution"

“What is causing all this commotion?” Buju inquires at the top of this selection. “Trying to stop we plant from getting promotion?” The Gargamel rides this heavy digital Penthouse production with style and skill, flinging down strong argument and reasoning about how “them fighting sensimilla making way for coke to come.” The fact that the artist who made this song would later be jailed on trumped-up coke charges in no way diminishes the power of the song’s message. So Babylon stay.

Vybz Kartel "Mr. Officer"

Bubbling on Big Ship’s massive “Trippple Bounce” riddim—the same track that provided the backdrop for Mavado’s “Hope & Pray” and Vegas’s “Gallis” as well as Kartel’s “Bicycle”—the Worldboss slides into storytelling mode, relating a roadside escapade that unfolds as a police roadblock flags down di Teacha, who just so happens to be transporting mass quantities of herb. All manner of slick talk ensues. “Squaddy,” he taunts, exhaling a cloud of fragrant smoke, “me nah stop bun my ganja!”

Sizzla "Healing of the Nation"

A young Sizzla Kalonji pours out his sincere belief that licking the chalice “whether day or night” is the only way to survive in Babylon. He’s not the first artist to call ganja “the healing of the nation” but he sings so convincingly that he might be the first to make you truly believe it.

Michael Palmer "Don't Smoke The Seed"

How many dances have been mashed up by the acapella drop heard on this record, during which Michael Palmer advises all ganja smokers of their solemn responsibility to perpetuate the propagation of ganja by making sure that they “smoke the weed / don’t smoke the seed.” Why? “Cause if you smoke the seed / You gwine kill the breed.” You have been warned. “Cause in this time it’s all we need.” Well said, Mr. Palmer.

Josey Wales "If Haffi Bun"

The Dancehall Colenol hops on the “Full Up” riddim to defend the chalice from police interference. “In front of station ganja pipe a burn,” the song begins, wasting no time. “Smoke from the chalice make Babylon eye run.” Pretty soon the inspector, corporal, and sergeant are all running in the dance with guns in hand. Just when all seems lost they sit down and start licking the ganja pipe along with the Colenol. “Gimme some ganja or you gone a jail,” they joke. “Then me fling in two spirit of cocaine / Lord God, this must touch the Babylon brain.” Mad ting.

Carlton Livingston "100 Weight of Collie Weed"

Produced by Jah Life at HC&F Studios in Freeport, Long Island under the watchful eye of the late great Philip Smart aka Father Phil the dubmaster, this crucial herb selection captures the real-life drama of transporting herbs by car on a lonely highway. Whether you’re rolling up I-95 or the road from Orange Hill to Portmore, there’s no worse feeling than watching that police car pull out from a shady shoulder and flip on the lights. “Can’t afford to get arrested,” Mr. Livingston sings over the bubbling “Hot Milk” riddim, “Lord I don’t have my papers on me.” Jah guide and protect.

Buju Banton "Driver A"

This cinematic reenactment of the inside runnings of a ganja smuggling operation relates a tale similar to the one told in Carlton Livingston’s “100 Weight of Collie Weed” but from the perspective of the kingpin who’s giving his driver instructions. The lyrical detail—from Nextel phones and Cingular chips to Fedex and UPS schedules to the importance of compression and tying down inna plastic—was accurate enough to make real hustlers vex. But the key to the whole song is in the second verse: “A business man inna me inna no ‘but’ nor ‘because’ / My girl wan’ wear Victoria Secret drawers…” and all that follows, especially “the last bwoy who try that dead like dog.” It’s not a game. Never was.

Black Uhuru "Sensimilla"

Rose can sing just about anything in that Waterhouse style and make it sound wicked and wild. So when he turns his attention to sensimilla cultivation and wails “don’t cut down the collie tree cause it make the best tea for me,” the tension is already palpable. Sly Drum-bar and Robbie Bass-spear set a rock-steady pace as Puma, Ducky and Michael Rose weave ill harmonies about “sitting on the corner chatting with informer.” That’s the way it goes when the ganja trade is your means of survival. “For the little herb I’m selling they want to capture me,” Rose sings, representing for all peaceful youths trying to make their way through Babylon.

Sugar Minott "Oh Mr. D.C."

At some point during every single live show he ever performed, Sugar Minott would reach into the audience and borrow somebody’s backpack, then throw it on his back and sing “Coming from the country with a bag of collie,” as the band launched into the Studio One classic “Sounds & Pressure” and Sugar began his obligatory performance of “Oh Mr. D.C.” This tale of a poor ganja farmer who runs into a police squad on his way to town became one of Sugar’s most beloved compositions. “50 cent a stick and a dollar a quarter,” he pleads “that’s what keep me alive / Me and my two kids and wife.” Throwing himself on the mercy of the authorities, Sugar offers a final word: “Just let me pass through and Jah will bless you.” The song never states what Mr. D.C. decides, but the fact that Sugar is still here to tell the tale is surely a good sign.

U Roy "Chalice in the Palace"

Taking a flight of fancy pon the “Queen Majesty” riddim, the foundation DJ chats about the ultimate cultural clash: natty dreadlocks blazing the ganja pipe all up in the royal residence. “We wanna have a talk with you,” Daddy Roy remarks, “Come on out the palace, come lick up a chalice, mek we dub it with your majesty.” One wears the crown, one wears the dread. But what matters is what’s in your head.

John Holt "Police In Helicopter"

John Holt made his name as a member of he Paragons, singing smooth love songs, so when he grew his dreadlocks and started doing militant tunes protesting police eradication of the ganja fields, it was a bit shocking to some of his fans. But Mr. Holt—who passed away just last year—was deadly serious. “If you continue to burn up the herbs,” he vowed in a voice that was both cool and deadly, “we’re going to burn down the cane fields.”

Mighty Diamonds "Pass The Kutchie"

The whole world knows Musical Youth’s version “Pass the Dutchie,” meaning a dutch pot of food. Fewer know that the original cut of the tune was done by the Rasta vocal trio Mighty Diamonds, who were singing about a ganja pipe, or “kutchie.” Suddenly the youthful innocence of kids filling their belly while skanking to reggae becomes a tale of a young man discovering the spirit of Jah at a dreadlocks camp. “There was a ring of dreads and a session was in sway / I could feel the thrill as I sat and heard them say / ‘Pass the kutchie pon the left hand side…'” The Diamonds had many classic tunes in their catalog but none bigger than this tune, which became so massive that the “Full Up” riddim is now also known as the “Kutchie.”

Barrington Levy "Under Me Sensi"

“Hey Natty Dreadlocks, where you come from?” taunts the police officer on Barrington Levy’s greatest ganja anthem. “You must have two stick of sensi under your tam.” The singer swiftly denies using his hat to conceal marijuana. “No officer, Lord, you must be mad,” he replies. “I only smoke cigarettes and strictly shag [tobacco].” And so it goes throughout the track, another crucial Jah Life production. “Hey Babylon you no like ganja man,” Barrington observes near the end of this rub-a-dub scorcher, “But we bring the foreign currency on the island.” It’s pretty hard to argue with that.

Bob Marley & The Wailers "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)"

“Why can’t we roam this open country?” Bob ponders at the start of this “Natty Dread” narrative. “Why can’t we be what we want to be? We want to be free.” He then introduces the conflict: a “three o’clock roadblock” (the song never specifies, but presumably we’re talking 3a.m. not 3 in the afternoon). Bob builds the drama of a roadside stop and search into one horrible climactic moment. It’s not the fact that Mr. Cop asked to see his “birth surfer ticket.” The real tragedy is that “I’ve got to throw away / I’ve got to throw away / Yes, I’ve got to throw away… my little herbstalk.” Dutty Babylon!

Jacob Miller "Tired Fe Lick Weed In A Bush"

Jacob “Killer” Miller was one of reggae’s greatest performers. His merry, manic brilliance shines through clearly in the crucial 1980 concert doc “Heartland Reggae,” particularly the performance of “Tired Fe Lick Weed In A Bush” during which he puffs a huge spliff on stage while using his microphone to taunt the cops at the venue before somebody hands him a police cap and he starts chanting “Babylon, Babylon falling down.” Backed by the mighty Inner Circle rhythm section, Jakes made an eloquent spokesman for ganja until his untimely death in a car crash.

Peter Tosh "Legalize It"

The ultimate marriage of message and music combining to create an undeniable force. The title track from Tosh’s solo denut album was a rallying cry, a pithy marijuana manifesto: “Legalize it. Don’t criticize it. I will advertise it.” And as it was said so it shall be done: word sound power. “Legalize It has so many meanings,” said Lee Jaffe, the photographer and friend of Tosh’s who shot the cover image. “First it’s about herb, and herb is about everyday existence. To have it illegal means you’re illegal all the time. It means you’re always outside the law if you’re a Raste. And the Rastas were at the vanguard of changing the culture, of changing the mentality of slavery, of deconstruting neocolonialism. And it’s why the music and lyrics are still resonating today. Because those problems still exist. It’s not just about legalizing herb. Once the herb is criminalised then your whole existence is criminalised. Your whole way of life. It’s a way of trying to kill your inspiration. It’s saying this incredibly potent medicine—you can’t use that. And that’s the weapon we use to fight the guns.”