The Marleys: The First Family of Cannabis

On my first day as a sophomore at Tulane University—on a sweltering late August New Orleans afternoon—I was excited to see the dorm I’d call home for my second year of college and, more importantly, who my roommate would be.

I smelled him before I saw him.

As I made my way down the long corridor at Monroe Residence Hall—I’ve been assigned a coveted “suite” that shared a common living room with another duo—I was simultaneously hit with the double-whammy of Bob Marley’s infectious anthem, “One Love,” blaring at the highest decibels literally rattling the walls around me mixed with the unmistakable skunky aroma of the legendary Rastafarian’s favorite herb. When I realized both were originating from my yet-to-be-seen room, I approached the door with trepidation.

Standing in the middle of the surprisingly spacious room was my new roommate—let’s call him Zac—looking exactly like a cross between Spicoli (Sean Penn’s burnout character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and an older teen cast member from Stranger Things. Zac was clearly excited to see me, instantly shaking my hand rigorously even while he was offering me a hit off his joint in the same breath. Here was the quintessential disheveled, shaggy, blond stoner dude grinning like an idiot while I’m standing there in my expensive linen khaki pants and Gucci loafers. I knew, of course, I was in serious trouble. I wasn’t wrong.

It didn’t take long for me to establish that, yes, Zac was in fact the school’s unofficial, but most in-demand, dope dealer, supplying my wealthier classmates all the weed (and most other mind-altering accouterments) money could buy. Since I was the Editor in Chief of the award-winning school newspaper, The Tulane Hullabaloo, I certainly couldn’t knowingly participate in the highly illegal practice emanating from my room. So, Zac and I set up a system: If he was transacting business at home—something I implored him not to do—he’d blast Marley’s “One Love” as an audio signal for me to stay away for a bit. Somehow, the system worked like a charm, but I transferred to a new dormitory and roommate the following year.

That wouldn’t be the last time Bob Marley would come to my rescue. I’ll revisit that in a bit.

For the uninitiated, Bob Marley is to reggae and cannabis what Michael Jordan is to basketball and what Aretha Franklin is to soul. Born in Nine Mile, Jamaica in 1945, Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley rose to become the world’s most famous Jamaican singer, musician and songwriter as he fused the genres of reggae, ska and rocksteady to create a distinctive, unmistakable sound. The world of music was forever changed due to this Rastafari’s colossal, undeniable, contributions.

Importantly, Marley was also a lifelong pioneer in the fight to legalize marijuana (ganja), and in 1976, because of his outspoken support of myriad democratic social reforms, the legend survived an assassination attempt in his home. But in a cruel fate soon thereafter, Marley was diagnosed with melanoma and succumbed to cancer at the age of 36, dying in Miami in 1981. At the state funeral the Caribbean nation held for Marley—he was buried with his guitar near his birthplace in Nine Mile—Prime Minister Edward Seaga beautifully eulogized Jamaica’s favorite son: “Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He’s part of the collective consciousness of this nation.”

Marley packed more humanity and action in his three-and-a-half-decades on the planet than any musician had previously in the 20th century. But what Bob Marley left in his wake is nothing less than an undeniable plethora of talented, dedicated Marleys—punctuated by his sons Ziggy, Rohan, Julian and Damian, grandson Nico and dozens of other standout offspring who proudly bear his surname.

To be a direct descendant of Bob Marley is to bear the dual responsibility of legacy and excellence in whatever your individual pursuit may be. The Marley name is thus forever enshrined alongside other globally familial dynasties: Rockefellers, Mings, Habsburgs. Make no mistake, Bob Marley and his legion of worthy scions are here to stay.

As one of (at least) 11 of Bob Marley’s children, oldest son Ziggy, most closely took after his father’s musical legacy becoming a formidable reggae artist in his own right, going on to win five Grammy awards. His worldwide fame, like his dad’s, was rooted in the music though. In 2011, Ziggy also released an acclaimed comic book, appropriately titled “Marijuanaman.”

Rohan Marley
A reflective Rohan Marley.

Ziggy’s brother, Rohan, took a more circuitous route to enhancing the Marley dynasty. A musician to be sure, Rohan also excelled as a former collegiate and professional football player for the University of Miami (“The U”) and later the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders, and an entrepreneur. Rohan co-founded the Tuff Gong clothing line and in 2009, launched the mega successful Marley Coffee business in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. Rohan took the coffee brand public just two years later in 2011 under the name Jammin Java Corp (JAMN) on Nasdaq.

With the distinction of arguably being the most successful business-minded Marley (he’s at the very least the most marketing savvy), Rohan also heads the Marley’s charitable organization, 1Love, and launched his first cannabis brand, Lion Order, this year on April 20 (4/20). Rohan, unsurprisingly, has five independently successful children with his ex-wife, the multiple Grammy-winning singer and actress, Lauryn Hill.

When I meet up with Rohan Marley, a happy, optimistic man at first glance, I ask him straight out: “So, you finally made your way to cannabis with Lion Order, eh?”

“Yeah, my friend, Lion Order’s my thing for sure,” he says. “The cannabis space was beautiful for me because, coming from the coffee world, I was very interested in the notes of the cannabis flower itself as well as the psychoactive side of it, too. But the profile, the terpenes, the taste of cannabis is hugely important to me and to all of us at Lion Order. We focus on the terpenes and the high THC content creating a strong, beautiful balance. Lion Order, I believe, is worthy of the Marley name.”

But why wait so long to enter the de facto family business?

Smiling, Rohan says, “One of the biggest reasons why I took my time to launch Lion Order was that we could properly represent the Rastafari movement in the cannabis space at a high level, so that’s precisely what we did. I’m proud of that. Lion Order is also a way for us to unite as a people, all different ethnicities, different religions, different everything and have a conversation about love, life and what really matters.”

Lion Order—along with partner and cultivator Heavyweight Heads—launched the cannabis and CBD lifestyle brand in Michigan. But like most things in Rohan’s orbit, this, too, has a football connection as former Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Terry James joined the brand’s roster as vice president. But football is only the beginning of the connection between Rohan and his eldest son, Nico, founder of CBD brand, Lion X CBD.

At this juncture, I’d like to point out that as I’m talking to Rohan and then a little later to Nico, more and more connections to my own life experiences keep cropping up, none bigger than Rohan graduating from Palmetto High School in Miami (I graduated from Palmetto’s rival, Southwest Miami High) and playing for my hometown school, University of Miami Hurricanes alongside legends Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and, yes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. For his part, Nico became an All-American linebacker at Tulane University, the very same school I graduated from as well. It would seem that I was fated to bond with this particular Marley father/son tandem, a very pleasant task indeed.

Nico Marley stands in a cultivation field.

After his college playing days, Nico signed with the NFL’s Washington football team (now called Commanders) before leaving the game altogether a few years later. Taking advantage of his degree he earned at Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, Nico joined his dad Rohan at Marley Coffee where he soon realized he wanted to strike out on his own. Nico launched Lion X CBD in April 2020 just as the COVID-19 global pandemic was roaring. “I started the company at the start of the pandemic because I concluded that I needed to give back something positive, especially during a time like that,” Nico says. “We were planning on doing an Earth Day launch event in New York City to showcase Lion X, but since we couldn’t, we thought we’d still launch on the website so at the very least people were able to purchase quality CBD during that very difficult time.”

I find Nico, unsurprisingly, a lot like his dad in temperament, with a relaxed approach to speaking and what I can only describe as the Marley ethos: “cool vibes only.” When did Nico realize having his last name was a little different than his friends’ surnames?

“Oh wow,” Nico says, smiling like a Cheshire cat. “I was just a kid; I went to my Uncle Ziggy’s concert, and it was like a whole thing with so many people in the crowd. My cousins and I went down by the stage, hanging out with all the people. We were having so much fun and everyone was going crazy for my uncle and his music. So, yeah, I think that was the first time I noticed that being a Marley was special.”

After a failed attempt at opening a Marley Coffee branded shop in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, Nico says he wanted his next venture to connect two of his and the family’s great loves: football and herb; thus, Lion X was born.

“I wanted to merge my two lives, right?” he says. “But since herb was so heavily regulated in Miami, I said, all right, maybe not herb, maybe it’s CBD. So, right then and there, I called my cousin on my mother’s side, Gaetan Khawly, and I told him about the idea for Lion X and we became 50/50 partners right on the spot.” Nico and Khawly are both listed as CEO & Founder of Lion X.

Asking Nico what separates his company from the scores of CBD brands—particularly celebrity-backed enterprises—all seeming to tout the same benefits, he eagerly cuts me off, almost as if he was anticipating the question. “At Lion X, restorative wellness is both a philosophy for living your best life as well as a guiding principle that encompasses healing the body, mind and soul from within,” he says. “We also have something the other CBD brands don’t. We’re the only brand that can weave together top-quality products, athleticism, entrepreneurship and my family’s heritage—creating a singular, modern wellness brand made for athletes, fitness enthusiasts and everyone in between.” As far as elevator pitches go, that’s a pretty darn good one.

Julian Marley, Rohan’s brother (Nico’s uncle), after a lifetime as a world-renowned reggae artist and devoted Rastafarian, also owns a popular cannabis and CBD brand, JuJu Royal, furthering the Marley family legacy as the clear first family of weed. By a mile.

And yet another Marley son, this time Bob’s youngest, Damian, has also got himself quite the lucrative cannabis business. Damian, an acclaimed DJ, singer and rapper globally known by his nickname, “Junior Gong,” recently partnered with his longtime manager and friend, Dan Dalton, to become co-founders of the California cannabis brand, Evidence.

There are a lot of Marleys doing cool things in the still red-hot business that is ganja, and Bob’s sons have certainly taken that to heart and activated respective, effective plans.

When I circle back and ask Rohan about his dad’s legacy once again—or, rather, what perhaps everyone gets wrong about the icon, Bob Marley, Rohan looks at me and says, markedly quieter, “Richard, my dad was a human being like everybody else. He wasn’t a god; he was a man, and he was my dad.”

That man, that dad, lived an electrifying, albeit tragically brief life so few of us could even imagine. And how proud he must be that Rohan, Nico, Julian and all the other family members are legitimately thriving in fields as diverse as medicine and music, and all are proudly carrying the name Marley into the future.

I promised to tell you about the second time Bob Marley came to my rescue. This time it was in New York’s luxe enclave, the Hamptons, at the single most pretentious dinner party I may have ever attended. At the height of the meal, the imperious host declared that the guest who came up with the best answer, would win $100 from each guest as a prize. The question was: “What was the simplest song that made the biggest impact?”

As the other guests worked their way down every Motown hit record—I almost went with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” but realized there was nothing simple about that song—instead I harkened back to my sophomore year at Tulane and how my burnout roommate always warned me about his transactions by blasting Marley’s irresistible and unifying global anthem, “One Love,” so that’s the song I chose. The moment I said it—and the audible gasp my answer provoked—I knew I had won. (The Beatles’ “Let It Be” came a close second).

So, I have to thank Bob Marley, once again, this time for helping me win $2200 that evening, some of which I kinda-sorta paid it forward in his honor, by lending my best friend $300 for some “really good shit,” as he put it. He thanks Bob, too.

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

The post The Marleys: The First Family of Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Jamaican Reggae Artist Protoje Creates an Energetic Feedback Loop Through Music

Oje Ken Ollivierre—the Jamaican artist known professionally as Protoje—is a thoughtful, contemplative individual—a thinker, if you will, who is consciously aware of his role as a creator and his responsibility as a creator to share what’s most authentic to him with the rest of the world.

Born into a family of music-minded parents, music started as a hobby for Protoje and eventually took form as a career once he made the conscious decision to go all-in and dedicate himself to his craft. His latest album Third Time’s A Charm acts as a culminating expression of his life experiences and feelings that have brought him through to the present moment.

When we connect over Zoom, Protoje is in a happy, expressive mood—having just taken a quick puff—and from a free and open mindset begins to share his journey through music, his relationship with cannabis, how he channels a higher power for his music’s creation, and how that higher power gives life to further music creation, performance, and sustenance.

High Times: Growing up in a musical family with both parents being musicians, was music always the path for you growing up in that environment?

Protoje: I really wanted to be an athlete first. I wanted to be a long distance runner and was obsessed with basketball in my teens. I always loved music and was involved in it, but it was like a hobby to me.

A little bit before I left high school I started to realize that the idea of getting a job or working somewhere was not sitting well. Not realizing the work it would take to be an artist, I thought maybe I could become one. Everyone was telling me how good I was and I could see how they were reacting [to my music]. So I declared that I was going to be an artist and that was what I was going to do [for “work”].

What was it about the artistic lifestyle that you realized was different from running, different from having a nine-to-five—what was it that really captivated your spirit?

To be honest, it was people’s reactions to hearing me DJ or doing other stuff. I just thought it would be a good way for me to express myself. I think where I felt most natural and felt most happy and content was writing music and singing it to my friends. I would get very excited and it’s what brought me joy.

So there’s a fulfillment element then that being on stage and expressing yourself provides, perhaps in a way that other occupations may not.

I think so. As simple as it is, I just didn’t want to have to report to anyone. I grew up with parents who always helped me feel very free. They had such busy schedules that they just kind of let me set my schedule, so it was very hard for me to adjust to operating on someone else’s clock. Doing so takes away my joy, so I knew that while I wanted to pursue music, I’d also have to do it under my own label. I just really didn’t want to have to report to someone, so I built my entire creative process around that.

When expressing yourself through music, is there a mission that you’re trying to fulfill or is it just an expression of yourself and music happens to be the tool to do that through?

I’ve found that the most honest way to approach music is to speak about experiences and the meaning that I derive from the way that I see things. That to me is me being my most honest self, and doing that is the most important thing for me musically.

So I may feel some way about something and I think the feeling is valid. After sitting with that feeling, I express it. A year later, I may be going through something else, but once it is valid and honest in me, I express it.

The overarching theme is to appreciate—to live in the moment of gratitude—to make use of the time that you have as best as you can. That’s really what I try to do as an individual. Because of that, that’s what my music tends to focus on.

When I listen to my music—look, I have to sing these songs everyday. I’m the only person who has to sing these songs one thousand times. I’m hearing myself sing this stuff all the time. So [the songs] need to be something that resonates with me and that I one hundred percent believe in. That they’re authentic from me. Otherwise, I’m going to hear it and I’m going to cringe.

The other day I had a show that was really hard to get up for energy-wise. I was tired, everyone was tired. I started the show singing “Deliverance” and said “Choosing how I spend my time is completely by design / They don’t even see the trying / All they see is dollar sign / All I make is sacrifice.” I was listening to those lyrics and I got an energy [that woke me up]. And this is why I [create] this way because it helps power the whole thing. Lyrics help power the whole thing of me being an artist.

So it’s almost like a really cool feedback loop. You’re channeling from a higher power, that channeling then leads to the creation of the music, and then the music gives you the energy you need to perform the music.

It’s like if you plant some lettuce yourself and you grow it and it comes up. You take it, and you wash it off, then you cook it, and you bring it out to the table for dinner. You break off a leaf of it and you taste the lettuce. You’re reminded of when you planted it and you get to experience it one more time and it’s a loop. It’s just like that, that’s [how making music] feels to me.

Photo by Yannick Reid

Was there a moment after deciding to focus on music where you realized the path could be both the vehicle to express yourself and provide you with sustenance?

I committed to music very early but it was very hard to get traction. I think when my first single “Arguments” came out and it came out and did well, I was like, “Wow, I’m an artist.” People were starting to recognize that I made music. I knew I had the skills and I knew I had the talent but my main problem was that I thought it was owed to me because I was so talented. I was like, “I’m talented, so why isn’t this person recording me? Why am I not getting the respect?”

Once I realized that nobody owed me anything and that talent alone had nothing to do with it—sure, I’m talented, but many people are talented—I began to realize I needed determination and discipline, and after that, everything started to happen fast.

Once you realized you weren’t owed anything, what was the shift in your actions that led to success?

The shift was immediate. I was at a friend’s playing video games and I went outside and started to smoke. Anxiety came over me like I’d never felt before. I didn’t understand. I knew I wanted to be an artist, I had a song that I was recording, but I was hanging out playing video games with friends during the day. I could tell you how many points Kobe had in the game the night before. But what was I doing every single day [to achieve my goals] apart from writing some songs at night? What else am I doing?

So I stopped everything that day. I got rid of my PlayStation, I stopped watching TV, I stopped everything else I was doing and I just started doing music all of the time. I started to bring my song to every radio station and go to every live event that they had where it was possible for me to get in front of people. Every day, everything I started doing was centered around “how is this helping me get closer to my goals?” I did that for a little and then everything started to happen when I stopped doing everything else. It was wild.

You went all-in and took the action of consistently showing up for yourself. And it sounds like, from that place, good things happened.

G, I’m telling you. In life, I’ve never seen it not work to really just narrow in on exactly what you’re trying to do and work towards it every day. I don’t see how that’s possible to not get closer to your goal if you work towards it every day. Once I realized that, everything changed.

That’s why I tell artists that I work with, “You want this and you want that, but have you done today to get there?”

From that day [of my realization] to now, no matter what it is that I’m doing, every day I do something that is helping me get towards where I am trying to go.

And you’ve had the positive feedback from the universe to validate that way of living.

I know that if I stay up another hour and send out another hundred emails today instead of tomorrow, I’m twenty-four hours closer to getting where I’m trying to go. That’s how I operate.

How do you protect your energy from getting burnt out?

The people around me will joke that I have an obsession or that I need to get hobbies, but I think it’s a balance. I have my family and my daughter, who give me a lot of relief. My family knows that I work really hard because I’m trying to do as much as I can do in as short a time as I can because I don’t want to be out here doing this forever.

I can spend five hours working feverishly on my craft today and then I have ten hours extra that I can use to go to the beach, I can hangout with my daughter, the whole family can chill and watch a movie or whatever—but the thing is, when I’m doing these things, the way my mind works is that these are all life experiences that are going into the process of me thinking. In turn, this leads to my music. You understand? It’s not focusing on being in the studio all of the time or recording all of the time, because that will burn you out. It’s living, experiencing, feeling.

Movies are a big thing for me and my writing because movies really make me feel. To someone else, watching a movie is time off—which it is for me, too—but at the same time, my mind is working and I’m getting ideas. So I’ve found a way to use it all as creativity.

Photo by Yannick Reid

In terms of creativity, what’s the inspiration behind your new album Third Time’s The Charm and what do you hope people take from it?

The album is an extension from [the album] In Search of Lost Time. It picks up right where it left off. Everything was coming from things that I was going through and experiencing. As I said, I communicate best with the world by talking about the things I’m going through and people can relate to it in some way and get something from it for their lives, as opposed to being preachy. That’s something I’m not interested in—being preachy and telling people what’s right, how you should live your life. I’m about sharing my experiences as you would when you meet someone and you’re talking to them.

Think about it: If you meet someone and you’re speaking to them and they say, “Hey look, you should live like this, this is wrong, this is the way,” or whatever, you’re not going to be receptive to the ideas and concepts I’m coming with, right? It’s the same thing musically. I’m just making music and communicating and sharing my thoughts and ideas. Maybe you connect with it, maybe it makes you come up with your own great idea.

I love this album, I really connect with it on a personal level. I love the words that are being said, I love the sounds that are playing behind the words. I love the way the album is mixed, I love the art. The visuals are possibly my most favorite that I’ve ever done. Everything is precisely how I want it to be and that’s what matters to me the most, knowing I’ve done exactly what I’ve wanted to do. However that’s perceived is up to people, and whatever that is, I’ll definitely be able to accept it.

It sounds like you’re consciously making art for yourself which enriches your life, and there’s an awareness of the power it has to also potentially enrich the lives of many others.

I like to think about van Gogh back in the day with an open canvas and him listening to his mind saying “Make this stroke with the brush here, use this color there.” I’d like to think he wasn’t there thinking “I wonder if someone is going to like this color here,” or “I wonder if people are going to like the way I do the grass here.” I don’t think that’s what people are doing when they’re making art. You have a picture in your head and you’re trying to put it as good as you can on the canvas. I feel like I’m hearing the songs in my head and all I’m trying to do is get it as close to how it sounds and looks in my head. When I really break it down to that, it takes away all of the pressure from making art. It helps you as an artist to not be anxious and feel like a hostage.

How does cannabis help you with this kind of creative process?

I have a very interesting relationship with marijuana. Sometimes, it gives me feelings that I’m not too comfortable with. Sometimes it makes me very anxious. Sometimes it makes me doubt myself. Sometimes it makes me question a lot of things. There’s lots of different reactions that I get from it depending on what I’m going through and how I’m feeling within myself.

When I smoke it causes me to overthink a lot and overanalyze. When I’m going through it, I feel anxious, but when I come out of it, I usually find something positive from the experience that I was having. So I’ve even learned to even accept the anxiety at times when it comes.

When I’m creating music—especially when I’m producing or recording another artist—and I’m smoking, it makes me able to spend as much time as needed without losing my focus. When I’m writing, marijuana will help me to be locked in and not be as easily distracted with outside elements. So creatively, I do think it helps me a lot, but I try to make sure that I’m not high all the time either because my conscious brain without being on marijuana is also such an effective thing and it brings its own qualities. It’s about finding the balance as with everything.

Follow @protoje and check out http://www.protoje.com for tickets, tour dates, and his latest album Third Time’s The Charm.

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Thanks to ‘Stranger Things,’ 1982 Hit ‘Pass the Dutchie’ Charts Again

Another forgotten gem from the 1980s is alive once again thanks to the popular series Stranger Things, and this time, the song’s about weed.

1982 hit “Pass the Dutchie” hit number 89 in the U.K. chart during the third week in June after the song was featured in the Netflix series Stranger Things—representing a resurgence in popularity. “Pass the Dutchie” also hit number 18 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs chart in the U.S.

The song comes on when long-haired stoner character Argyle, played by Eduardo Franco, and Eden are in the back of his pizza van, which gives it a nice stoney vibe. The lyrics “pass the dutchie ‘pon the left hand side” is instantly recognizable to people who grew up with the song.

Most people are aware of Stranger Things’ power to resurrect Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” charting after 37 years—hitting number 8 on the U.S. Billboard chart, which was a better performance than in 1985. To put a good picture into how powerful the show is, Bush earned $2.3 million as of last week—from a 37-year-old song—due to the surge in sales thanks to being featured on Stranger Things.

The show also breathed life into other songs. “Pass the Dutchie” was a 1982 hit single for British band Musical Youth, five young singers whose parents emigrated from Jamaica and specialized in reggae.

The song is actually a mash-up of a few tracks, a short intro from U Roy’s ‘Rule the Nation’ and vocals by guitarist Kelvin Grant coming from U Brown’s ‘Gimme the Music’. But the song is mostly a cover of the Mighty Diamonds’ “Pass the Kouchie,” with “kouchie” being slang for a pipe. However “dutchie” became more common later on, being a word to instead describe an L-shaped joint or blunt.

The band was ironically quite young for an adult-themed song about passing weed around in a circle: the group’s oldest band member, Dennis Seaton, was only 15 when “Pass the Dutchie” was released. It hit number 10 in the U.S. Billboard chart and number 1 in the U.K. chart.

The band earned two Grammy Awards, but disbanded long ago in 1985. Band member Patrick Waite died in 1993 at age 24, however the band has reunited a few times.

The song has inevitably helped to shape stoner culture. It has sold over five million copies worldwide.

Music critic Carlyle Williams said the show has done wonders for the song. “The show’s fourth season has introduced its young audience to some classic songs which has led to a rebirth for those tracks in the British and American charts as the youngsters have started streaming these hits of the past,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer. “Stranger Things is arguably the biggest show on Netflix right now and it is quite popular with the youth demographic.”

“Britain is known for its love of old-school music, and Stranger Things, which is set in the 1980s, has definitely found favor with the current generation of music lovers,” he said.

Beyond Stranger Things, “Pass the Dutchie” was also used in the 1998 Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer and 2002’s Scooby Doo: The Movie.

The soundtrack, Stranger Things: Music From The Netflix Original Series Season 4, was released on May 27. It also includes hidden gems from the 1980s, such as “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora, or “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive, or other Top 10 hits like “Object of My Desire” by Starpoint or “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco.

Stranger Things Season 4’s cast includes Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, and Caleb McLaughlin.

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Higher Profile: Julian Marley

Julian Marley’s legendary father, Bob Marley, is credited to bringing the Rastafarian culture and music to the world through lyrics instilled with political and theological messaging, based on ancient Christian texts. Once his music gained international recognition his raw interviews became teaching moments of Rastafari livity, teaching the principles of a balanced lifestyle, steeped in love, giving thanks daily, as a practice.

“I wake up every day and give thanks and praise before everything else,” he shared. “It’s a meditation. Sometimes I put on some good Ethiopian music—some orthodox music, and start the day out with spirituality before we take time for physicality.”

Physicality defined in the modern world, Julian explained, is the world of the iPhone, social media—Instagram, namely. If it’s a business call that’s different, but starting the day with a spiritual life, giving thanks, is part of livity.

“It’s good to make it a practice, then it becomes a habit, then it becomes you,” he added. “Everywhere we go, we give thanks for the day—a few moments of thanksgiving everyday. If we are driving, we say ‘yes, God, yes you see everything, but it’s nice to thank him. Then we play in the park, chat with friends, see the children.”

Raised in London, Livity in Jamaica

Born in British Jamaica, Julian was raised in London by his mother, Lucy Pounder, but learned of the Rasta beliefs during visits with his extended family in Jamaica.

“When I read the Bible as a kid I thought the history was only happening in England—it was the language, written in old English—and in my mind it took me far away from my roots in Jamaica. But when I went back to visit my brothers, I saw that everyone looked like me, and heard the old teachings, and realized the origins of the ancient beliefs.”

Like their father, Julian said the Rasta man has a message to spread to the four corners of the earth—one aim, one unity, one love—with justice and equality in the mix.

“They are gone now, but the children learned all the teachings from our father’s mentors in Jamaica,” Julian shared. “We learned the old ways, and cannabis is keeping in meditation.”

His brother, Damien, sings of cannabis as a medication, but Julian speaks of it as part of a practice, a meditation.

Courtesy of Joey Clay Photography

“Medicating is always there,” he said. “Medication, meditation—it’s the same. When you smoke, you go into yourself,” he explained. “Depends on the reason, but the herb doesn‘t tell you what to do; it opens you to see what your consciousness is doing. The plant doesn’t make you bad or good, that’s the person. When you drink alcohol, we do know that it can make someone bad—if you drink too much, you can get bad.”

The herb, he said, is transparent and an enhancer, uplifting the partaker to be open to be themselves, to learn something—to be lighter, not dark or bad.

“But, what are you learning?” he asked. “Something good or something bad? That’s each individual’s decision.” Everyone wants to blame the plant when things go wrong, but you can’t stop a plant that was here before man walked on the earth—a plant that was in the Garden of Eden. A plant that was part of the Holy Anointing Oil of Christ. Why would you fight something like that?”

“God said, ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit, they shall be yours for food.’ -Genesis 1.29

Canadian author, Chris Bennett, penned in his compilation of references to cannabis in the Bible and ancient times, Cannabis and the Soma Solution, that cannabis in Holy Anointing Oil was brought to the Baby Jesus as a medicinal offering, not unlike the Frankincense and Myrrh, openly said to be gifted—not merely fragrant incense for the vulnerable infant cradled in a bed of straw.

“Maybe they want to fight it because when it opens our minds it keeps us away from the good healing, the good teachings of love and reasoning, of community and unity—what everyone is supposed to have, brotherly love. They paint a bad picture of the herb to distract us from the good picture, the best picture of ourselves.”

Music as Practice

Growing up in London, Julian said he was surrounded by music.

“Both my grannies sing. My father’s mother, my mother’s mother sang in church,” he said. “Walking through London there was music everywhere—to the train, the bus. You go under the subway and there were skillful musicians playing. I was always drawn to the music before I could play a note.”

His mother wasn’t musical, but she loved music, with her vinyls making their way into his own record collection.

“At one point, she stopped playing the records and I started playing the  music,” he said.

His latest single, The Tide is High, is a cover from a classic Reggae song by Jamaican born singer/songwriter, John Holt. Many musicians have covered the song over the years, most notably Debbie Harry’s version for the band Blondie. Surprisingly, Harry’s chart topping pop hit in 1980 is very similar to the slower version recorded by Holt in 1967.

According to Encyclopedia.com, Rastafarian music evolved after the 1970s and into the 80s to have a faster tempo, and subsequently, more danceable.

“The world was a different place before the 1980s, the vibe was slower and different—we could really use some of that back” Julian waxed poetic. “The tempo changed, hip-hop changed, the tempo got faster. What we see is the world running on this fast-track, not saying, hey, slow down and use every moment to do something positive with your life. Do something constructive—take the time to do it right. If your life is fast, fast, fast, it might leave a hole for something bad to happen. Make sure you build on solid ground, and build it slow and properly.”

One People, One Love, Many Languages

Julian expounds on he and his siblings taking the Rasta Livity message of positivity out into the world for the greater good, to enlighten the masses on the positive side of life, getting the “good message” into the world.

“Negative doesn’t like positive, but positivity is in the minority,” he continued. “The Devil is still here on earth, but if there’s one soul out there doing good work, Jah will use that soul as an instrument to get the good message out into the world—like our father used his celebrity in interviews. Jah used him as an instrument to enlighten people, and now he uses us.”

Jah and God are interchangeable, and Julian says languages are a barrier to all mankind being in unity.

“It doesn’t matter who you are talking to—Allah, Jah, God, the Creator,” he added. “Every name is different, but it’s all the same, the same teachings— one love, one people, not divided. We learn other languages and learn to say the same things, but the name of the Creator is always different. Man is one, but language divides. Inside the heart we are the same.”

Live right, live humbly, listen to that ancient mystic in your ear. These are the teachings of Rastafarian culture.

“With the teachings, with the daily meditations with the herb, you can learn to know yourself,” he concluded. “By the cosmic love of Jah anything can happen. We can be that one good soul who helps other souls to see the light of love and the light of God.”

The post Higher Profile: Julian Marley appeared first on High Times.

Cali Vibes Rocks Long Beach, Allowing Cannabis

Cali Vibes, quickly becoming known as one of the largest reggae-focused events in America, allowed cannabis consumption on-site over the past weekend—one of the latest large events to do so, with an estimated 75,000 in attendance.

Presented by Goldenvoice, AEG and sponsor Weedmaps, Cali Vibes features the top names in reggae including some unexpected surprises. The bill included the Marley brothers featuring siblings Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian, as well as Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Stick Figure, Sean Paul, Shaggy and a special performance by Wu-Tang Clan. They were joined by Pepper, Atmosphere, Artikal Sound System, Iration, DENM, Tropidelic, The Elovators, Don Carlos and so on.

Cali Vibes was held at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, California February 4-6. It was also livestreamed live via emusiclive.com. In previous years, the event was called One Love, but this is the first time cannabis was allowed inside.

“As the official cannabis partner for Cali Vibes this year, Weedmaps had the opportunity to bring awareness to some beloved SoCal brands in the space throughout Cannabis Village”, Juanjo Feijoo, CMO and COO at Weedmaps, told High Times. “We are always looking for creative ways to engage with the cannabis community, and were delighted to be able to work with AEG and the Cali Vibes team to create a destination for consumers to learn about cannabis and cannabis brands safely while having fun. We can’t wait to continue to evolve this concept and bring it to more and more venues and festivals across the U.S.”

Less alcohol and more cannabis appeared to have an overall positive impact on the crowd. Weedmaps unveiled a cannabis-themed Weedmaps Village, a dedicated space featuring California’s top cannabis and accessory brands such as The Medicine Woman, Select, ZIG ZAG, Dripp Extracts, Wafers, Papa’s Herb, Buddies, Clone Guy and DIME

Guests were entranced with live urban art and interactive games, such as the “Flowers Are Not A Crime” art installation, created by Los Angeles-based artist, Laurie Shapiro, in collaboration with Weedmaps. The title of the installation was chosen to bring awareness to the fact that while cannabis markets continue to emerge and people profit, there are still over 40,000 people—disproportionately minorities—behind bars for nonviolent cannabis-related charges. People who downloaded the Weedmaps app could order from The Medicine Woman directly from the app and collect it from an off-site location.

Yaadcore with Subatomic performs at the BoomYard stage. Photo Beth Saravo. Photo courtesy of Cali Vibes 2022.

Humboldt Seed Co. was busy at work, informing festival goers about the importance of terpenes and genetic transparency. Meanwhile, Clone Guy offered living clones, with their roots sheltered in plastic globes, providing for a surreal experience in legality. Living plants were practically everywhere in the vendor area.

The Koi CBD stage featured some of the largest acts, and The Greens presented by Koi CBD was located near Weedmaps Village. The Beach Club and VIP Lounge provided additional packages. Goldenvoice and Delicious Vinyl Island collaborated to present the BoomYard stage at Cali Vibes, which will showcase a slew of talent from Jamaica, including Mr. Vegas, Yaadcore, Walshy Fire, Teejay, Naomi Cowan and more. This is the place you went if you wanted to hear the cuts of dub, dancehall, raggamuffin, toasting and other sounds of Jamaica. 

We were impressed at Method Man’s control over the audience during Wu-Tang’s performance, which was both the most rowdy and energetic. Stick Figure, on the other hand, wowed the crowd with pyrotechnics.

High Times caught up with several bands that performed at Cali Vibes.

“Kalea Wassman of Pepper and from the Big Island of Hawaii here—more importantly from the Big Island of Hawaii,” Wassman told High Times. “It’s so wonderful to know that with these kinds of events, opening up and being successful like it is now, gives us so much momentum to go into the next festivals that we get to do. This is just a beautiful situation after what we’ve gone through over the past few years. This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.” 

Wassman, who is vocalist, said to expect a lot of presence from LAW Records—the band’s own record label. “It’s fantastic where we get to envelope these younger acts and help them succeed in the world of music,” he said. “They’re going to be sprinkled all through the [upcoming new material].”

Pepper performs. Photo credit Elli Lauren. Photo courtesy of Cali Vibes 2022.

“This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.” – Kaleo Wassman

Wassman reflected on Pepper’s work ethic, in combination with cannabis. “Honestly, I find it so much more rewarding at this point in my life to do the healthy approach to it, Wassman said. “What I mean by that is allowing myself to fall into the now, and not skipping over any moment that I get to be onstage, because it has been awhile since we have been onstage. That is a beautiful lesson to learn, because when you go town to town, day after day, night after night, you’re very susceptible to losing that connection with each show. What this has taught us now is that everything.” Pepper is set to release new material in 2023 after a giant summer tour that is yet-to-be-announced.

Sublime with Rome drew a large crowd, per usual, especially considering that the festival took place in Long Beach. “We have a freestyle that we’re jamming that’s kind of inspired by some new stuff,” Ramirez told High Times. “And we’re playing stuff we’ve never played, like we have Hirie coming up for a song, and we’re doing some stuff we haven’t played out here. It will be different shit tonight for sure.”

Sublime with Rome performs. Photo credit Elli Lauren. Photo courtesy of Cali Vibes 2022.

“We’ve been working on some new music,” – Rome Ramirez.

“We’ve been working on some new music,” Ramirez said. “We’re going into the studio, I think in June, to start to put together some of the tracks we’ve been working on. And hopefully we’ll be putting out a record by next year. We are just kind of focusing on the songs and trying to get all of the writing done.”

Ramirez admitted that Long Beach may not be the most popular destination in Southern California, “but it’s one of the most important in my eyes, because it’s transcended itself into sound in some of the other artists and other genres and artists,” he said. 

Ramirez revealed that he’s been collaborating with Duddy from the Dirty Heads, both on music and CBD/THCa projects with small-batch companies. A lot of people they know only smoke weed, so they’re not getting any CBD. Both artists have experienced problems due to skating and/or baseball, Ramirez said. “So I said, lets put together some topicals and type of CBD that we can fuck with ourselves.”

Ramirez said details are scarce, but that it’s called Good Times Wellness, but done differently than the over-marketing of typical brands, “because everything now is so sleek and modern.”

The Ries Brothers—hailing from Clearwater, Florida—blend rock, blues, funk and reggae for a highly sophisticated sound with an emphasis on the craft of songwriting. “We played a brand new song called ‘Cornerstone’ and we’re about to go into the studio to record a new album,” Kevin told High Times. “That will be on it.” 

The Ries Brothers performed a few live sets for Sugarshack Sessions—a popular, highly intimate digital music series filmed and recorded beneath palm trees in Bonita Springs, Florida. 

Kevin from The Ries Brothers performs. Photo credit Beth Savaro. Photo courtesy of Cali Vibes 2022.

“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project. If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years.” – The Ries Brothers

“Sugarshack is fantastic, from our home state of Florida, and the work they do is fantastic,” Charlie, who is the older brother, told High Times. “It’s such a great relationship that the bands have with them. Because they don’t charge the bands to shoot them. It’s a mutual project. We’ve gone down to their compound to do two sessions, and we just released one that we did from Reggae Rise Up that we did a three-song set. We had members of Stick Figure, Iration, Passafire and Tropidelic during the set. It was awesome.”

Kevin mentioned that he produces a lot of his own material. “I do a solo project called Echoing Dream,” he said. “And it’s kind of more reggae-dub. And I had the idea of taking back the song. It started with a bass line and drum beat. It was kind of a reggae idea for my solo project. I took out the skanks and everything—just keeping the drum and bass—and that turned into Charlie freestyling over it. And I always had the idea of making a remix like that. We had the idea of getting a bunch of artists in the scene together. Hitting up the DMs.” 

Last year, the brothers released a reggae remix of their single “Take It Back,” featuring Julian Marley, as well as E.N Young, Kash’d Out, Gary Dread  of The Movement, Bumpin Uglies, Little Stranger and Jaime Hinckson.

“The cool thing about it was, it worked out with the verses they sent us in the order that it ended up being,” Charlie explained. “Gary Dread was the first to say he was in, then it kind of steamrolled from there. Then eventually getting up to Julian. Mad props to our manager David [Parnes] here.”

“The track was almost done, we didn’t think Julian was going to be on it,” Kevin said. “The night before we had to submit it to mixing, Julian sent us his parts. I quickly mixed it, and am so stoked about having him on track.”

The Ries Brothers are not only interested in cannabis consumption, but cannabis reform that begins with undoing the wrongs from the War on Drugs—as evident in their continual support for organizations such as the Last Prisoner Project.

“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project,” Kevin said. “If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years. So the Last Prisoner Project helps people get out of jail for [inhumane prison sentences] for small amounts of weed. They’re doing a lot for the community, so that’s important to us.” 

DENM performs. Photo credit Sanjay Suchak. Photo courtesy of Cali VIbes 2022.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill.” – DENM

DENM’s debut full-length Slum Beach Denny was frequently included in top 10 reggae lists of 2021 as one of the hottest new albums of the year. It played like the soundtrack of summer. DENM also co-wrote “Rage” with Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads, featuring Travis Barker and Aimee Interrupter from the Interrupters.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill…” DENM told High Times just before his pivotal performance. “I’m just trippin’ that I get to play AND see the Marley brothers and Wu-Tang and all these legends—I’m just trippin’.”

In regular fashion, Dirty Heads showed up as one of the festival’s most popular bands. Coming from neighboring Huntington Beach, they weren’t very far from home in the first place. “The vibes are high,” vocalist Jared Watson from the Dirty Heads told High Times. “Wu-Tang Clan is playing right now. It’s a home show. I live 20 minutes from here.”

Duddy, who is also a vocalist along with Watson, told High Times that fans won’t hear any unheard new music, “but we will be performing ‘Rage’ tonight, which is one of our newest singles, which we put out not too long ago. Working with a lot of new music right now. We’ve got a new album in the works, but not playing anything new tonight.”

For some, “Rage” seemed like a flashback to the days of punk and ska, such as Operation Ivy.

“We wrote it with DENM,” Watson said. “Me and DENM were in the studio, just writing for Dirty Heads, and we wrote it with him, and when I heard it come together, I said—we’ve got to get Aimee [Allen]. I got the same vibes—this is kind of old school like Operation Ivy. I immediately thought of Aimee from The Interrupters, and they were working with Barker at the time. So that whole song came together in like one night. I texted Aimee, and she said she was in. I asked her, ‘Can you text Travis?’ ‘Sure.’ And an hour later, it was like ‘Travis is in and we’ll do it like tomorrow.’”

Duddy of Dirty Heads performs. Photo credit Elli Lauren. Photo courtesy of Cali Vibes 2022.

“I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands [on our new material] yet, but it’s going to be awesome.” – Duddy

Duddy confirmed the new cannabis and CBD project in the works with Ramirez. “It’s called Good Times Wellness. It’s a collab we’re doing with Consequence. It’s a CBD line and we are going to to small batch with actual marijuana as well. Not just CBD. It’s going to be a cool boutique, small batch CBD and marijuana line.”

Watson explained that if you dig around online, you can probably find some new Dirty Heads tracks. “I leaked a new song on a livestream I did,” he said. “There’s a song called ‘Visions’ and a song called ‘Oxygen’ that we have. The guy that produced those two records is producing the whole entire record. So we’re only working with one producer, and his name is Ryan Ogren. You’ll love him; he’s a close friend of ours. If you like ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Visions,’ you’re going to be stoked because we have songs like that on there. We have a few really, really broken down acoustic songs like that you’d hear on the acoustic album that we did. And then we have the majority of it is that kind of straight-down-the-pipe Dirty Heads. Some songs are more leaning hip-hop, and some are more highly reggae-influenced.” 

“As of now, I think it’s going to be the most solid album that we’ve ever put out,” he said. 

Watson added that the band just saw the soft dates for the summer tour and lineup for who they’re going out with on the tour. “It’s stacked.”

Duddy added, “I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands yet, but it’s going to be awesome.”

“The bands were going on tour with, that are at this show,” he said. “They’re the bigger names that played this weekend that we’re going to be on tour with.”

Duddy explained that performing in Long Beach, which is just minutes away from home, is like having a home show.

The post Cali Vibes Rocks Long Beach, Allowing Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

A Tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

On Sunday, August 29, at the age of 85, famed Jamaican producer and artist Lee “Scratch” Perry passed away. Over the years, several High Times writers have caught up with the mysterious musician, providing a glimpse into his life.

Perry adopted many nicknames over the course of his career: the “Upsetter,” the “Super-Ape,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Pipecock Jackson” and the “Firmament Computer.” But he was mostly called “Scratch” from one of his early songs, “Chicken Scratch.” He loved and experimented with just about every new genre of music, and is credited with being a pioneer in dub.

Perry produced the best work to ever come out of Jamaica. He produced The Wailers’ albums Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution—the first time non-Jamaicans heard Bob Marley sing, also producing some of Jamaica’s most iconic artists.

Bob’s son Ziggy Marley provided a statement that was widely shared on various platforms. “It was always a unique experience being around him,” Marley told Rolling Stone. “He opened minds with his creativity and his personality. Some people thought it was madness, but I recognized it was genius, uniqueness, courage and freedom. He made no apology for being himself and you had to accept that and figure out the deeper meanings to his words and character.”

Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Legacy

Perry built his name working various jobs at Coxsone Dodd’s famed Studio One in Kingston, Jamaica. The sounds of Jamaica were constantly evolving from ska to rocksteady and reggae. Perry created the studio band the Upsetters in 1968. In 1973, Perry built his own Black Ark recording studio in his backyard. There, Perry produced for Jamaica’s best artists including Junior Byles, Junior Murvin, the Heptones, the Congos and Bob Marley.

“Scratch was a massive personality, he was a creator, a pioneer, a wizard, a shaman, a magician, a philosopher, a musical scientist,” Marley continued. “A man like him will never come this way again,” Marley said. “One of a kind. He will be missed a lot by those of us who had the time to experience him not just through music but through knowing him personally.”

In the late ’70s, Perry heard punk rock for the first time, and played an album of The Clash to Bob Marley. Perry loved their covers of Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves” and The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop,” so much so that he produced The Clash song “Complete Control.” It led Bob Marley to write “Punky Reggae Party”—his tribute to the punk rock bands they met.

In 1998, Perry appeared on Hello Nasty album by Beastie Boys.

Also in 1998, High Times’ own Doug Wendt interviewed Perry, confronting him about whether his band the Upsetters would ever get back together. High Times’ Chris Simunek interviewed him 10 years later.

In 2003, Perry won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with the album Jamaican E.T. and the next year, Rolling Stone ranked Perry number 100 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Perry on Cannabis

Perry has always been there when friends like Bob Marley or Paul McCartney needed a puff.

In Tokyo, Japan in 1980, Paul McCartney was busted for a whopping 7.7 ounces of pot—facing serious consequences in a country that doesn’t tolerate drug use. Perry had previously worked with McCartney and his wife in 1977, when he produced Linda’s covers of “Sugartime” and “Mister Sandman” at Perry’s Black Ark studio in Jamaica.

When Perry heard that McCartney was arrested, he sprung into action, penning a letter to Tokyo’s Minister of Justice, demanding his release. “I LEE PIPECOCK JACKSON PERRY would LOVE to express my concern over your consideration of one quarter kilo to be an excessive amount of herbs in the case as it pertains to master PAUL McCARTNEY,” Perry wrote. “…I find the herbal powers of marijuana in its widely recognized abilities to relax, calm, and generate positive feeling a must.” 

High Times has followed Perry for decades, and even managed to interview him at the precise moment when he quit smoking weed in his 70s: “Since 25, I have been smoking pot, and it overload the brain” Perry told High Times in 2008. Marijuana, ganja, Lamb’s Bread—I don’t smoke anymore.” Perry even backtracked later on, suggesting that too much weed is a bad thing in a Fader interview.

Few people adored ganja as much as Perry did for over 50 years of near-continual use, and it shows in his work and legacy.

The post A Tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry appeared first on High Times.

Yaadcore is Ready for His Spotlight Now

As a DJ, Yaadcore helped break acts like Chronixx and Protoje, ushering in the conscious, reggae revival movement that swept Jamaica over the last decade. These days, he’s focused on making his own tunes, dropping postmodern island bangers like “Ready Now” and “The Calling” through his 12 Yaad label and California’s Delicious Vinyl Island.

With his debut album, Reggae Land, primed for a January 2022 release, his transformation from DJ to artist is set to be complete. 

No matter which musical cap Yaadcore is wearing, advocating for the herb is a part of his DNA. Whether blazing chalice in the DJ booth, reviewing strains for Jamaican dispensary Itopia Life, or remaking John Holt’s classic ganja farmer anthem “Police in Helicopter” (alongside Jah9 and Subatomic Sound), he’s one of Jamaica’s most visible and authentic ambassadors for the lifestyle. This is Jamaica we’re talking about, so that’s really saying something. 

Originally released in 2020, Yaadcore’s “Nyquill” draws on reggae’s holy history of marijuana protest tunes to highlight cannabis’ medicinal properties, and the ways Babylon continues to fight the plant even as dispensaries proliferate from Kingston to MoBay. A new remix of the track, re-branded with the additional title “Spliff A Light Spliff,” is out today featuring reggae legend Richie Spice, and we’ve got an exclusive premiere of the video right here. 

High Times spoke to Yaadcore about “Nyquill,” making the transition from DJ to artist, and the ways legalization has and hasn’t changed Jamaica’s celebrated ganja business. 

What was the inspiration for “Nyquill”?

Really and truly, this is what the riddim spoke to me. Most times, songs just come to me. [Reggae artist] Micah Shemiah had [an instrumental] riddim called Lion of Judah he was gonna voice up a few more songs on, and I said I wanna try something on it. There is the popular Big Pharma brand, NyQuil, and I used that to show that marijuana is our medication and compare the medicinal values that marijuana has. 

Why did you add “Spliff A Light Spliff” to the title?

“Spliff A Light Spliff” was already a part of the hook. Being that we are remixing the song with a herbalist legend, Richie Spice, I emphasized the chorus more. After the original dropped, I did a “Spliff a Light Spliff” strain review series on YouTube with Itopia Life, a dispensary here in Kingston, which we want to continue. 

You’ve got “Spliff a Light Spliff” merch drops with Diamond Supply Co. and Blazy Susan, two American companies. Do you see yourself becoming a global spokesman for Jamaican ganja?

Jamaica has a big reputation where marijuana is concerned… for having the best. That goes along with reggae music [being] an avenue for advocating for marijuana to be free. With these collaborations, we see where we can cross market to different people who are not as familiar with reggae culture but share the same sentiment when it comes to the advocacy of marijuana.

I am definitely a voice advocating not only for Brand Jamaica where herb is concerned, but a global voice, you know. As [I say] in the song, “Babylon should never wah lock up anyone for just a little draw.” There are still people around the world faced with jail time just because [of] a little spliff. 

In 2015, the Jamaican government significantly amended its cannabis laws. How have attitudes towards ganja in Jamaica changed since then?

Before 2015, there was more tension between police and smokers. [Now] you can smoke freely without thinking about getting arrested. That is a big improvement we have to give thanks for. [At] the same time, farmers are still faced with high licensing fees.

Small farmers are not able to gather the right documents to be a part of this industry, and they are faced with penalties if they continue to grow. They don’t really get to benefit after how many years of maintaining the industry, and being oppressed for it. People with criminal records just for possession of marijuana are still faced with their criminal charges affecting their status in society. 

Photo Credit: Tizzy Tokyo 

Talk about why you set the “Nyquill (Spliff A Light Spliff)” video in a greenhouse.

A typical ganja video is in a ganja field, breeze blowing. I always want to be different. It was my intention to showcase the level of farming that has developed in Jamaica. I was scouting different farms for the video, and when Blaine from Itopia Life sent me a pic of his farm, the setup was very impressive for Jamaica. [The choice of location] was aesthetic and political.

Growers in Jamaica have always done their own thing and left well enough alone, and it’s served their reputation well. How is the island beginning to embrace the technological advances that have revolutionized the industry overseas?

America is blessed with a lot of resources. Scientists and farmers are way more educated in a technological sense. Whereas a Jamaican farmer, being we are a country of nature, we more deal with that kind of farming. As technology develops in farming all over, not just in marijuana, dem start use techniques to identify what strain is in each herb, and modify the seeds to be more specific as far as strain is concerned.

Since the whole legalization in Jamaica now, naturally we see some development in how we plant the herb. Naturally, we’re learning from what we see abroad as well as applying our own Jamaican knowledge. A farmer from California may come to Jamaica and not be able to plant the same crop as he could in California. You have to get used to the different climate and humidity, [whether] you’re growing outdoors or in a greenhouse.

How we now start to develop our thing is by importing seeds and learning to crossbreed different strains. The mere fact that it has become legal now, people can experiment more freely in the industry.

You were a DJ for a long time, touring with Protoje, making mixtapes, and platforming the reggae revival with your event, Dubwise Jamaica. How did your journey to becoming an artist begin?

There is a style in reggae where they play the song and then the [instrumental] riddim version. I remember one night, I was DJing in Bergamo, Italy, with Protoje, and I played a song, and the riddim as well, and people were saying, “Sing a song, sing a song!” I was really unable at that time.

I wanted to be able to toast as well when playing a rhythm live, so that was my first inspiration to become an artist. Then I discovered Mikey Dread. I knew of him already, but he resonated in my mind after that. He was the first DJ to have a reggae radio show in Jamaica; he was a producer and an artist as well. I saw that I don’t have to limit myself. 

“Ready Now” was the first song I put out. That song was not planned. It was mystical. A producer sent me the riddim to co-produce, and probably voice some other artist. It was playing one day at the studio and man dem said, Ready Now—they were ready to start—and immediately mi start sing, “Say mi Ready Now…” I wrote the hook in five minutes and, a couple months after, I released it.

That’s how the journey started. It was the third song I ever wrote, but I released it first, to send a statement that I’m ready now. I was already sure of what I wanted to do by that time. 

Photo Credit: Tizzy Tokyo

How does the herb unleash your creativity?

It unleashes creativity by making me feel relaxed. Once the nerves are relaxed, you are able to channel what the mind is really focused on. 

What are you looking forward to sharing with your debut album?

Mi want people to see the energy mi have set out for the world, transitioning from a DJ to an artist. To make the people know it’s not a joke ting. I’m not really a DJ anymore. I have a whole heap of material to share with the world. 

How would you describe your music? There’s a lot of hip-hop influence. It’s definitely not your father’s reggae sound. 

There are some fusions in it, but the foundation of what mi a deal wid [is] reggae music. From you hear I and I ‘pon it, then you know it ah go bring Jamaican flavor.

Follow @yaadcore and check out yaadcoreradio.com for updates and info.

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Son of Peter Tosh Dies After Prison Beating

The son of late reggae legend Peter Tosh, died in his Boston area home on July 17 at the age of 40. He had never fully recovered from a brutal 2017 beating in a New Jersey jail, where he was serving time on a cannabis charge.

Gamal Jawara McIntosh, who performed under the stage name Tosh 1, was Peter Tosh’s youngest son. He shares his legendary father’s fate, as they both faced violent deaths.

McIntosh was serving a six-month sentence for marijuana possession when he was attacked by another inmate. As noted by the Jamaica Observer, the beating left him in a coma for over a year with full rehabilitation a long way off.

Following his death in July, McIntosh’s older brother Dave Tosh confirmed a month later to the Jamaica Gleaner that his brother’s remains had been cremated.

Peter Tosh, who co-founded the Wailers in 1963 along with Bob Marley, was murdered during an armed robbery of his home in Kingston in 1987. He was repeatedly targeted by police in Jamaica for his anti-establishment views and open use and advocacy of ganja and on one occasion in 1978 was badly roughed up.

Peace in the Afterlife

When Tosh 1 finally regained consciousness more than a year after the February 2017 jailhouse attack, he was sent home from the New Jersey hospital to Boston, where his mother, Melody Cunningham, and sister, Niambe Tosh, cared for him.

Last November, Niambe, a cannabis activist who works as a teacher in Boston, told the audience at the Peter Tosh Music Festival in Kingston that her brother was slowly making progress.  

“He still has a lot of healing to do still, so I appreciate and know that Jamaica is praying hard for him,” she said from the stage. “The prayers are definitely working so please continue to send out your prayers for him because he is definitely missing from the stage tonight, but I know his spirit is with us at the same time. So please, continue to pray for my father’s youngest son.”

Reggae fans can now only pray for his peace in the afterlife.

Ganja Bust Becomes Death Sentence

In June 2013, McIntosh was arrested in Mahwah, NJ, for allegedly having more than 65 pounds of cannabis in the trunk of his rental car. Billboard reported that Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said McIntosh had an arrest record that included charges for “disorderly persons offenses, assault, resisting arrest and promoting prostitution.” However, the New Jersey activist group Cannabis Patriots Unite refuted Batelli’s claims, calling them “slanderous and completely without merit.”

McIntosh spent more than six months in the Bergen County jail before pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute. He received a one-year sentence in August 2016. With six months left to serve, he was sent back to the county jail in January 2017. Just one month later, he suffered the debilitating attack.

New Jersey’s Hackensack Daily Voice reported that a fellow inmate — a New York resident from Queens awaiting trial in a home break-in named Kyrie Baum — was charged in the brutal beating. He faces a count of aggravated assault for the attack.

In February 2019, Melody Cunningham filed a federal lawsuit against Bergen County, alleging that authorities, including ex-sheriff Michael Saudino and a group of his officers, condoned a “fight club culture” in the Hackensack prison. The county is arguing that it does not oversee the jail and does not control the sheriff or his officers and therefore has no liability in the case.

NorthJersey.com reports that county counsel filed a brief with the court last July, stating:  “The county does not operate the Bergen County jail, nor is the county the custodian of the prisoners there—instead, the sheriff is.”

Saudino, who was sheriff at the time of the attack, stepped down in September 2018 after secretly-recorded racist comments that he made were released to the public. On the tape, aired by radio station WNYC, Saudino speaks with members of his staff about then newly elected Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposal to legalize cannabis. He is heard saying that legalization would “let the blacks come in [presumably from New York], do whatever the f*** they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”

A Voice for Cannabis Liberation

The Justice for Jawara page at the Peter Tosh website now states: “Jawara, you are a true soldier and we are blessed to have you as a son, a brother, a father, and a friend. Please hug and kiss our ancestors for the family. Your legacy lives on through your children, Jahzarah, Jeremaiah, Nazare, and Azariah.”

Jawara McIntosh and his four children on stage. PHOTO @JENuineVision

It also makes note of his commitment to cannabis activism: “Within the Rastafari faith, marijuana is a sacramental and sacred herb and has many known medicinal properties and values. Jawara has consistently used his own voice as an advocate for legalization, speaking at events like the Freedom Rally in Boston, Massachusetts, as well as in front of the New Jersey State House.”

Among his musical contributions as Tosh 1,McIntosh recorded a version of his father’s classic anthem of cannabis liberation, “Legalize It.”

As the Bergen Record recalled, Tosh 1 performed the song outside the New Jersey statehouse at an April 2014 rally calling on state and federal lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize cannabis.

Veteran High Times music editor Steve Bloom, who covered the passing of Jawara McIntosh for his website CelebStoner, also offered the following comments to Cannabis Now: “It’s terrible what happened to Jawara. Clearly, he was a victim of the War on Drugs. Marijuana possession with intent to distribute charge was the beginning of the end for him,” he said.  

“Like his father Peter, Jawara was persecuted for his love of ganja. He should be alive and well today. Say his name: Jawara McIntosh.”

TELL US, should anyone be in jail for cannabis?

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