A dozen rad weed songs from the land of reggae

Not confining ourselves to the island.
Bob Marley
Bob Marley / Paul Natkin/GettyImages
3 of 5

“EASY SKANKING” by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1978)

Choosing one Bob Marley song as representative of his musical examination of weed is a fool’s errand. I mean, “Easy Skanking” is the lead track on his 1978 album Kaya, and it is followed on the album by the title track, which you could argue is just as good if not better on the same subject.

But “Easy Skanking” is just about the best marriage of vocal, melody, and instrumentation with a title concept that I can think of. This is one of the most laid-back, easy songs you will find. It avoids politics. It avoids danger. It doesn’t even attempt to present a logical argument about the prevalence and benefits of ganja. All it does is take the listener on a little tip, drifting away from reality for a while. It is as soothing as music gets.

“WEED OOH” by Lutan Fyah (2012)

I figured it was about time to show that not all top-flight weed songs come from reggae’s golden age. Fyah was born just about the time Peter Tosh was releasing “Legalize It.” The intro to “Weed Ooh” shows some modern influence, with a hip-hop-style intro in which he identifies himself. We get a touch of spacy synth over the opening drum beats. But after the intro, blunts, bongs, and spliffs are occupying a typical reggae groove. But then, Fyah shifts gears again into some rapid-fire rap-style lyricism.

Fyah released “Weed Ooh” on the short seven-track Stella Green Farm Riddim collection a few years back. All the tracks shared rhythmic tracks which allows for minor variations within the songs. I think Fyah’s track is the best, but the entire album is a pretty chill way to spend a half hour.

“SWEET SENSEMILLA” by Mystic Roots Band (2000)

Mystic Roots Band is proof that you do not have to come from the islands to embrace reggae. They hail from Chico, California, and though they clearly identify as a reggae band, they incorporate many other influences. You might consider them a hybrid indie rock band along the lines of Sublime, the most successful hybrid reggae rock band from the turn of the century.

“Sweet Sensemilla” moves seamlessly from reggae to hip-hop and back again. It may not be for be for purists, but it shows reggae’s adaptability, without abandoning this core principle - “Lord knows I won’t waste my day on heroin or blow – Cali Herb Cali Herb, can you feel its effect? – Give thanks and praise for Jah most magic gift.”