Words by Desmond Alphonso
We heard Eddie Murphy’s new reggae tune “Oh Jah Jah” back on Monday, when it quietly turned up on a few YouTube feeds after going out via a VP Records DJ blast. We kept things quiet, with reason: Our very own editor Jesse Serwer was about to sit down with Eddie for an exclusive interview about his unexpected foray into reggae (“Oh Jah Jah” follows 2013’s “Red Light” featuring Snoop). Now that the cat’s out of the bag and the story’s online over at RollingStone.com (and excerpted everywhere else), it’s time to weigh in.
The consensus is: We like it! Sure, there’s a few things we would have done differently, but if you told us Eddie Murphy had a song called “Oh Jah Jah,” there’s no way we would have imagined it would be this spot-on. I mean the first two words you hear in the song are “Bogle! Enuh.”
Which brings us to our next order of business. In an outtake from the interview that didn’t make it to Rolling Stone, Jesse asked Eddie about his taste in current reggae, and we were a bit surprised by his answer, as he name-checked Turbulence, Beenie Man, Chronixx and took it back up a bit to big up Garnet Silk. Here’s what he had to say:
The Jamaican reggae artists that I like, I don’t think I wanna be doing a track with them. I just be liking them. I like Beenie Man, I like Turbulence, I like Chronixx. I like Garnet Silk. You know Garnet Silk? I have a bunch of reggae artists, a bunch of Jamaican artists, that I like but I’m not on no “I need to go collaborate…” Collaborations, those things have to kind of come together when they come together. I’m not on a record label, I’m not trying to put some package together. It’s all stuff that kind of happens.
And here, he explains his thought process behind “Oh Jah Jah’s” reggae vibes:
I wrote that track the first week that Ebola jumped off, and Ferguson was going on – it was pulled out of the headlines. To say this stuff, it has to be reggae. You can’t touch on none of this with an R&B track, because people will shut down to it. But do a roots reggae song that feels like Bob Marley type of stuff, you can say it.
Read the rest of the Rolling Stone interview here, and check out “Eddie Ranks,” our (now suddenly out-of-date) countdown of Eddie Murphy’s “Most Caribbean moments,” featuring “Red Light,” the Shabba collab “I Was a King” and the classic SNL skit “Kill the White People.”
And weigh in on with your thoughts on “Oh Jah Jah” and Eddie’s reggae stylee in the comments.