I swear I never even knew what drugs were…UNTIL I HEARD MUSICAL YOUTH. The rumour swept round school sometime after their Blue Peter appearance: the song isn’t about a “cooking pot” at all, it’s about… the other kind of pot. Did this fill us with new-found respect for Musical Youth and their song? Absolutely not, we all hated it. So instead what we believed was that while we, posh white boys from Surrey, knew about the “real meaning” of “Pass The Dutchie”, Musical Youth themselves were such chumps that they’d recorded the song in all innocence.
Reader, the chump was I: the Youth were wasted on the young. These days it takes about half a second of the song to bring a smile to my face – “THEES generation” – ker-WHUMP! “Pass The Dutchie” is gimmickry alright, but it’s gimmickry with ambition, the very best kind. It’s trying to fuse the tweenie energy of “I Want You Back” with the easy sunshine swing of “Uptown Top Ranking”, and throw in a dollop of social conscience too. Also, as will become apparent over some upcoming entries, a fight was on for what “pop reggae” might mean – a flavouring, a dilution, a museum piece? With those viral, Yellowman-style “biddly biddly bong” vocal lines – the primary source of my schoolboy disdain – Musical Youth were channeling more recent Jamaican sounds, more successfully, than any of their grown-up pop peers.