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Musical Youth - Pass the Dutchie (1982)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.22
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

“Pass the Dutchie” is a song produced by Toney Owens from Kingston and the British Jamaican reggae band Musical ...

“Pass the Dutchie” is a song produced by Toney Owens from Kingston and the British Jamaican reggae band Musical Youth, taken from their debut studio album, The Youth of Today (1982). The reggae song was a major hit, peaking at number one on the UK Singles Chart. Outside the United Kingdom, it peaked within the top ten of the charts in the United States and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.


The song was the band’s first release on a major label. Following a shouted intro taken from U Roy’s “Rule the Nation” with words slightly altered, the track combined two songs: “Gimme the Music” by U Brown, and “Pass the Kouchie” by Mighty Diamonds, which deals with the recreational use of cannabis (kouchie being slang for a cannabis pipe). For the cover version, the song’s title was bowdlerised to “Pass the Dutchie”, the new word being a patois term for a Dutch oven, a type of cooking pot. All obvious drug references were removed from the lyrics; e.g., instead of the original “How does it feel when you got no herb?”, the cover version refers to “food” instead. “Dutchie” has since become a drug reference, denoting a blunt stuffed with marijuana and rolled in a wrapper from a Dutch Masters cigar, since American and British listeners assumed that the term was a drug reference.

The song was first championed by radio DJ Zach Diezel and became an instant hit when it was picked up by MCA Records in September 1982. It debuted at #26 on the UK chart and rose to #1 the following week. In February 1983, it reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the USA, the group’s first and only top 40 hit in the United States. The song also scored the #1 position in five other countries, eventually selling more than five million copies worldwide.

Music video

The video, directed by Don Letts, was shot partly on the southern banks of the River Thames in London, by Lambeth Bridge. It depicts the band performing the song and playing instruments, until an official appears to arrest them. Courtroom scenes are interspersed with the exterior ones. Musical Youth became the first black artists to appear in a studio segment on MTV.

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