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Listen To This Obscure Sierra Leonean Album When You Get A Chance

S.E. Rogie's 1994 Masterpiece Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana should be required listening.

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Sierra Leone, a West African country with about 6 million residents, is perhaps best known abroad for its diamond industry (including blood diamonds). It was the home of one of the greatest 20th century musicians that you have probably never heard of, Sooliman E. Rogie.

S.E. Rogie was born in 1926 while the nation was still a colony of the United Kingdom. He played so-called palm-wine music, which combines traditional West African rhythms, vocals and instrumentations with instruments that had been brought to the area by sailors from Europe, most notably Portugal. The most important of these instruments to the genre is the guitar.

The name of the genre itself originates from the alcoholic beverage made from palm sap; palm-wine musicians would often drink the wine when they would get together to play.

Rogie, a vocalist and guitarist, had a career in music that spanned more than five decades starting in the 1940s. His final album, Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana was released in 1994.


The album itself was released after Rogie died from complications of heart bypass surgery when he was 68 years old. The album's title has attracted some attention from the stoner set for nearly 20 years, but has otherwise been overlooked.

Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana is a complex album sung in several languages. The music is often subdued but with a playfulness and warmth that is both calming and engaging.

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Nyalomei Luange (Love Me My Love)

Rogie achieved success in his native Sierra Leone in his lifetime as well as building a fairly significant international following, but, nearly twenty years since he died, his body of work has been increasingly overlooked -- particularly outside of the world music world.


View this video on YouTube

Dieman Noba Smoke Tafee

Physical copies of Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana are pretty rare to find, but the album is available to stream on Spotify or it can be downloaded through Amazon and iTunes.

You really should listen to this album at least once whether you like world music or not. It can be a transformative and life-changing experience.

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