Inner Circle's Roger Lewis Talks Reggae, Legal Weed, and 4/20: "Marijuana Is A Good Herb"

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"Like we say in Jamaica," Inner Circle founding guitarist Roger Lewis tells Crossfade, "it's a gladdy good thing for some smoke."

This Saturday (AKA 4/20), Roger and his bruddas will be bringing the "Mary Mary" and "Boom Shaka Laka" to Sunset Cove Amphitheater with Steel Pulse. And it'll be a day to shout: Legalize that weed!

"If 4/20 is a day where the people show the U.S. government and the governments of the world that this is a healin' herb, then I am with that," he says. "For the education of the people, I'm for that."

Here's what Mr. Lewis had to say about 4/20, dropping knowledge on everything from marijuana to Harry J (R.I.P) and world peace.

See also:

-Ten Best 4/20 Parties in Miami

-Win Free Tickets to Inner Circle's 4/20 Show with Steel Pulse

Crossfade: What do you think of 4/20

Roger Lewis: Man, 4/20, that's what you asking?

Yeah. What do you think of the idea of it being a holiday?

A holiday? Well, we don't have nothin' against weed 'cause marijuana is a thing that grow like any other plant when you throw a seed in the ground. But to make it a holiday? It's healin' up the nation, it is a good herb, and should be way decriminalized. It's a healin' herb, but to make it a holiday, I would not.

What about the idea in America of making everything extreme, so that 4/20 is a day where you just smoke as much weed as you possibly can?

We don't wanna put a big emphasis on this like it's crazy people who love weed. You have to keep the marijuana plant in its perspective. It is a holy sacrament for a certain set of Rastafari and religious people. So takin' it from that perspective, and that one can get many healin' thing for the physical body, and that it also offer a good and deep meditation for the mind, then overall, it is a good herb. And many people believe, especially in Africa and other continents it is a special blessed herb from God.

I see on your website, "Inner Circle Presents J Boog" I've Got The Handle. First Single Off "Hawaii Sings Jacob Miller."
J Boog is wicked. Reggae right now is universal music. Hawaiian and Asian people love the music. It puts good thoughts in your mind. Don't care what language you speak. The new surgence of reggae may not be in the headquarters of Jamaica. Some of the biggest bands in reggae music now are from America, New Zealand, Hawaii. Reggae music is now 100% really and truly universal and worldwide.

What part of Jamaica you from?
I was born in Kingston. And I grew up in Kingston. I went to one of the best schools in Kingston. When I was at school in 1960 something, Selassie came to my school, and said that the mind needs to be educated. Until 1962 Jamaica was under colonialization by the British man. I never learned anything of Africa except for its geographical positions. Basically school taught you to be a good Englishman, not that we we were black. My father was more English than an Englishman. But, in my school, I started to see a lot of the educated young men start to speak about Rasta, and at that time I didn't understand. I was into girls and cricket and football. But Rasta was around me in my school.

What school wast that?
Jamaica College, call it JC. See, at that time, any man who was a Rastaman, them police used to lock them in jail. That was the early 60s, late 50s, when we were still under the British. We did not get so called independence till 1962. That's the kind of world I entered. And through the music I came to learn these things.

I went on the political music bandwagon in like 1972 to elect Michael Manley. And many people don't realize this, because they say, "Oh Bob Marley could never be bought," but I tell no lie. Bob Marley was for one year part of the musical bandwagon to elect Michael Manley Prime Minister of Jamaica too. I was there. I played on stage with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. And then, when Bob Marley was makin' his album "Catch A Fire," him and Peter Tosh drove up and they came and ask us to play on "Stir It Up."

Oh shit.....
Yeah man, that's Inner Circle on the track. Recorded on Roosevelt at Harry J studio.

Who was that?
Harry J was a great record producer. He had that song "Liqiuidator," with the bass that go boom, boom, badoom boom boom, google him, he's very well known. He just died a couple of weeks ago. He was my friend and a good record producer. He had a liitle hot temper now and then, but also many big hits, like the Marcia Griffiths version of "Young Gifted and Black." Harry J was misunderstood in many ways, but he was a good guy. I like Harry J, and I miss Harry J. His studio is still running in Jamaica.

You were there in Jamaica for the birth of ska, did that influence your sound today?
I didn't get too much of the ska, but I grew up in the ska era as a 6 or 7 year old. I was born in the mid 50s. I even became friends with Tommy McCook from the Skatalites. I used to go and watch Byron Lee, and The Skatalites as a likkle young man used to sneak under the fence and that's how I started lovin music. I was like wow, what is this, I never tasted anything like this. We used to sit around and talk about the great Motown groups, and I remember a guy named Marvin came up and said "The biggest band in the world is The Beatles." And we all laughed cause we never heard of them, like what kind of name is that. We were more into R&B.

Were you able to hear the radio stations from Miami out there in Jamaica?
Yeah. I had my little radio, and WINZ is the station I used to listen to. I remember hearing something about"Drivin down Biscayne," and visioning these things when you are a young boy in the islands and have never been to America, which influences so much with music and everything, you envision this as the greatest place on Earth, where the people are so nice. But sittin in Jamaica you don't know the reality, that as a black person you were considered nothing to them. And when I first went to New York at the age of 13 it was a shock.

What do you think of the other bands playing the festival?
Red Lyte and his band is very good, and Steel Pulse is the Ultimate, man. Steel Pulse is rock solid reggae. I look forward to the show. It's going to be very good and very entertaining. Entertaining and enlightening. And all the people coming out for the 420 gonna feel the healin herb. All the reggae lovers and music lovers, one love. This Earth right now could really do with some comin together. That's truth. Everything is bomb burn kill bomb burn maim. As Bob Marley would say, "Man to man is so unjust." But one thing is for sure, time and change is always constant. Time and change. We don't know what the future is, but we make the world smaller through technology. I am hopeful that through the music we can learn respect for one another. That is my hope and view for the future.

CDXX 420 Festival. With Steel Pulse, Inner Circle, Electrik Dread, Biggz General, Artikal Sound System, Jesse Royal, Kevens, Redlyte, Dax Lion, Judah Tribe. Saturday, April 20. Sunset Cove Amphitheater, 12551 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Tickets cost $39.99 to $145 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Ages 21 and up.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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