54-46 (That’s My Number)

toots

54-46 (That’s My Number)‘ is a song by Fred ‘Toots’ Hibbert, recorded by Toots & the Maytals and originally released on the Beverly’s label in Jamaica and the Pyramid label in the UK. It was one of the first ska songs to receive widespread popularity outside Jamaica and is seen as being one of the defining songs of the reggae genre. It has been anthologized repeatedly and the titles of several reggae anthologies include ’54-46′ in their title.

The lyrics describe Toots’ time in prison for an arrest for possession of marijuana. The song features the same riddim (instrumental accompaniment) to a song as ‘Train to Skaville’ by Toots & the Maytals’ contemporaries The Ethiopians. Hibbert later admitted that 54-46 was not his actual jail number, and that he was not arrested for a crime related to marijuana.

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