THERE is global debate on marijuana’s legalisation and decriminalisation. Many have contributed their voices in support of this, among them Jeffrey “JGM Benjamin” Granger.
His song Kaya speaks to marijuana in “any mood, any situation.”
The singer/songwriter from St Ann’s has been writing, singing and performing for over 34 years. His music falls into three genres: R&B, reggae and calypso. While he has won calypso competitions, there is something about reggae that calls to Benjamin’s heart.
Although this song is not new, Benjamin decided to put it out now in light of the current debate. The song was re-produced by Gareth Pollard and was published on YouTube on March 13.
“This song was created about 15 or more years ago, but I now get the reason to do it. What I have been trying to do with the song is say how much...ganja in any mood, in any situation, is so important to humans,” Benjamin said at Newsday’s Pembroke Street office. “Even with the ladies. No matter what mood, and we feel the urge to smoke.”
The name Kaya was chosen just because it's easier to say than many names by which marijuana is also known.
As Benjamin explained, “It was easier to say, 'I want my kaya.'”
He believes, from anecdotal evidence, that a lot of people in TT smoke ganja and comments, “The government is taking a pretty long time to recognise or realise that this should have been legalised years ago.
“Alcohol, to me, is more devastating than marijuana. Marijuana is good for so many different ills, so many issues.”
In the free-spirited decade of the 70s, Benjamin was influenced by singers such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff.
The ongoing discussion about marijuana’s legalisation, he said, should have been taken up by the government “a long time ago.”
“I hope this time around, they would see it to bring it forward,” Benjamin said.
He has performed Kaya at private gatherings and considers it his biggest reggae hit so far. The song has received positive feedback from Benjamin’s friends.
He hopes as the discussion around marijuana legalisation continues, that Kaya will become a “rallying cry” for it.
“I hope the TT population, especially the Rastafari population will recognise and see the richness of the song and we can use it to promote the legalisation of marijuana.”