Trenton and Free Radical have held an unexpected place in my heart since I first came upon them on the Hemp Stage at Rocking the Daisies way back when. It seems pretty fitting now, that their final track comes as a clarion call to legalise cannabis – a final energy-fueled political anthem on which they managed to score a collab with Jamaican reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. Talk about going out in style.
“Grootboom” also serves as a tribute track to the late Julian Stobbs of the Dagga Couple, who was murdered in an armed robbery in Johannesburg in June this year. Stobbs, who spearheaded the South African movement to legalise the plant alongside his partner Myrtle Clarke for almost 15 years, was a keystone figure in the cannabis community. A percentage of the proceeds of “Grootboom” will be donated to Fields of Green For All: a non-profit organisation co-founded by Stobbs to fight the ongoing cannabis prohibitions in the country.
The track itself is something of a final hurrah: a groove-centered unapologetic reggae anthem packed full of all the good stuff that comes with the timeless genre. Trenton reels out an opening ream of verses, unpacking the benefits of the plant with his characteristic edge. “Release anyone with a cannabis crime,” he spits past driving bass and cruising beats. Redondo of the Driemanskap dives in for a say in the matter, while Lee “Scratch” Perry tops it off with his blessing.
Though it wont be the last we hear from Trenton Birch – he’s parting ways from the band to pursue music as a solo artist – “Grootboom” is a fitting, rousing and heartwarming farewell to the Free Radicals.