Better Know a Stoner Song – Ganja Babe by Michael Franti


From Soul to Reggae, from Spoken-word hyper political works to catchy pop, Michael Franti has his toes in a lot of different tastes. You might know him best from his song “Say Hey.” But what I know him best from is cannaballad, “Ganja Babe.”

Franti was born in Oakland, California 1966 to a mixed couple. His mother put him up for adoption because she feared her child would never be accepted by her racist family. He was adopted by a couple in Oakland who had four kids, three biological and one adopted. He started writing in 9th grade, and quickly picked up poetry as a lifelong art. Franti picked up music after he purchased a bass from a local pawnshop, taking influence from reggae, punk, and hip-hop.

He started a band in 1986, the Beatnigs, stylized after industrial spoken-word. The band released an album Television that garnered a bit of attention but struggled to break out of the city.

His next move was to form the band The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, a collaboration with Ron Tse, Charlie Hunter, Mark Pistel, and Jack Dangers. They put out an album with Island Records titled Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury. After this signing they eventually opened for U2. The band was very political and championed anti-war messages, took shots at Exxon Mobile, the role of television in our daily lives, homophobia and misogyny, and many other progressive takes. The album even made appearances in a few academic articles. One called Franti’s work, a song that, “promoted treating women fairly in relationships an exception” to the misogyny that pervades mainstream hip-hop.

Franti formed a new band in 1994, Spearhead. The band pushed Franti away from the more politically charged music he made prior, moving into music inspired by Funk and Soul. After two releases the band split with Capitol records, and formed their own label, Boo Boo Wax. Their song “Sometimes” was featured in the movie Mystery Men, their cover of “Roxanne” made an appearance in the movie Good Burger.

Franti moved back to his political roots with the release of their album Stay Human. They covered subjects such as the prison industrial-complex, media monopolization, and corporate globalization.

In 2003 Franti released an album Songs from the Front Porch, primarily acoustic renditions of old works, and a few new songs. This is where today’s Stoner Song to Know comes from. Ganja Babe is a lyrical drag of some top-shelf vibes. I first heard it featured on the TV show “Weeds” (which ran about 6 seasons too long.). Its got a bit of everything that makes Franti lovable: Funk, Reggae, proactive and smooth flowing lyrics, and a fantastic whistling intro. Give it a listen while you are taking a toke!

The Hemporer

Who in the Weed was

Jack Herer?

Food, Fiber, Fuel, Fun, Medicine.

The legal access to weed we enjoy now, for most modern smokers, is new. And while the trend sweeps the nation, and national legalization is on our doorstep, it’s important to look back at some of the figures who got us there. Legalization is a movement that has pushed against the U.S. and international prohibition, and one of the biggest voices in the history of this movement was Jack Herer. You might know more about the strain than its namesake. A spicy and citrus-sativa perfect for getting stuff done, reflecting the nature of the man himself.

A fiery hemp activist, Herer was born in 1939, and grew up in Buffalo, New York. He was the youngest of three kids. He served in the Korean war, then moved to making a living off painting signs. Jack got into cannabis in his early 30s, gave up painting, and opened a head shop on Venice Beach. It’s said that it was his girlfriend who got him to smoke because, “He was too boring otherwise.”

Herer wrote his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes in 1985. It was born from Herer’s passion for the plant, a compilation of uses and benefits of cannabis, and data, statistics and accounts that supported legalization. He narrates the devastation of the planet from climate change while he expresses the many solutions that cannabis has to offer. He presents solutions to medical conditions, promoting the use of cannabis for pain management and its anti-anxiety properties.

Jack Herer promoted the idea of the entire plant, not just the dried flower, being useful for addressing the problems that we as the world face. He worked to reveal the diverse and far-reaching history of cannabis through societies. Dating back at the earliest to 8,000 B.C. cannabis has had a powerful impact. Herer tracked the course it took in America, from being one of the most abundant and accessible medicines on the frontier, to the huge number of farms and plantations in the states, some of which were regulated to grow more cannabis in times of scarcity.

Herer died in April of 2010 at the age of 70. After a later-life of fighting off heart-attacks, he finally succumbed to the final big one after giving a speech in Portland, Oregon. He would die months later due to the lingering damage. But the movement did not die with him. As an eternal testament to his lifelong pursuit, the back cover of The Emperor Wears No Clothes challenges readers to disprove the fact, with a bet of $100,000, that cannabis is essential to answer the problems that face the world.