My Reggae Genesis: Eek A Mouse – Ganja Smuggling

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Ripton Joseph Hylton, aka Eek-A-Mouse

The moment I discovered reggae (or reggae discovered me) was at 14, listening to a late-night reggae show on University of Richmond radio WDCE 90.1FM. The attention-getting snare rattle, the ominous bassline and keys…late at night in my room with the lights off and the radio on, sitting on the windowsill next to the bed. I remember sitting up in bed in surprise, grabbing the radio, and holding it in my lap so both ears could discern the single crappy speaker equally. I had been asking people I knew in the terms my nascent musical self could muster for “roots music,” whether the ‘real folk blues,’ urban American soul, or reggae, itself only recently added to my growing list of musical fascinations via one or two albums  by the late Ras Bob Marley. To my ear this fit the bill; was sufficiently different from Marley’s full, optimistic sound and buoyant, transcendent lyrical thematics. Ras Bob had to preach, but Eek had you picking weed at midnight with the warm mud of a Jamaican hillside between your toes. In this depiction was sufficient grit for my tastes, tumbled as I was by the rhythm track.

Growing up in the South the economic themes in this song were accessible to me, a part of my daily social if not personal experience. Taking a step back from the song’s subject matter the thematics become transparent. The protagonist is presented with a choice between poverty and crime, indeed begins & closes the song with an unashamed confession of his part in what the Jamaican police would certainly have termed an international narcotics trafficking ring. Shoes torn up, house blowing apart, the opportunity to get money is undertaken enthusiastically. I admit, even as a lad upon purchasing the album and reexamining the lyrics more closely I felt a certain disappointment that the protagonist had not shown himself relieving his family’s suffering –replacing the windows and doors at home for example– instead of purchasing jewelry.

Once I grew in my love and knowledge of reggae & associated styles I came to recognize that the only thing really ‘roots’ about the notoriously clownish Eek-A-Mouse were occasional philosophical and social reflections such as these. It’s hard for some to get past what Eek refers to as his “Chin-Indian music” (e.g., “Bong bong biddy bong bong biddy beng geng geng geng…”), but you’ll know in the first :30s if this song is going to grab you the way it did me.

Early, early Sunday morning it was a big ganja smuggling
Ina de mud me a pick kali bud an me a load dem down in off the top
One by one, load up de van, all of-a ganja it ram
Put it on a plane, the weed gaan a Spain
Money jus’ a pour like rain
Me jus’ a mogel up the lane in a rope gold chain
Me an me girl name Jane

Down dere in the ghetto I go, where sufferation I once know, ey
Mummy an daddy, all a’ we so poor, we all had to sleep on the floor
Storm it come and it blow down me door, me ha fi nail up me window
Me shoes tear up, me toe just a show, me nuh know a where fi really wan’ go
Mummy jus’ a bawl “poor, poor, poor”, me cry, she seh “son cry no more”

Early, early Sunday morning it was a big ganja smuggling
Ina de mud me a pick kali bud an me a load dem down in off the top
One by one, load up de van, all of-a ganja it ram
Put it on a plane, the weed gaan a Spain
Money jus’ a pour like rain
Me jus’ a mogel up the lane in a gold rope chain
Me an me girl name Jane

Down dere in the ghetto I go, where tribulation I once know, ey
Mummy an daddy, all a’ we so poor, we all had to sleep on the floor
Storm it come and it blow dung me door, me ha fi nail up me window
Me shoes tear up, me toe just a show, me nuh know a where fi really wan’ go
Mummy tell me “nuh rob drug store; police beat ya mek ya back sore”

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One thought on “My Reggae Genesis: Eek A Mouse – Ganja Smuggling

    […] hip shakin’ music from a completely different angle than the reggae and real folk blues I was picking up at the same time. In light of this, of my understandably visceral love for the late, great Sam […]

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