How Shaggy influenced Star Wars: The Force Awakens

How Shaggy influenced Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Despite taking place in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars has always taken inspiration from our history, folklore, religions and, uh, ‘90s reggae fusion singers.

Of all the aliens that populated Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens, some of my favourites were the musicians.

While the Cantina Band (aka Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes) in A New Hope played an upbeat brand of jazz – known in-universe, rather unfortunately, as ‘jizz’ – the musicians in Maz’s castle, known as Shag Kava, played a funky, reggae-fuelled number, Jabba Flow.

In the original trilogy, the ‘pop’ music played in the cantina and Jabba’s palace was composed by John Williams. But for The Force Awakens, Williams advised JJ Abrams to find someone else to write the song that would be played at Maz’s castle.

That’s when Abrams happened to meet actor, composer, rapper, writer and Star Wars fan Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Miranda is, of course, the man responsible for Broadway smash Hamilton, one of the few cultural events of the last few years that could stand toe-to-toe with The Force Awakens.

Miranda’s hip hop-infused history lesson about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton won the polymath a Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy, multiple Tony Awards – and the chance to leave his mark on Star Wars.

When Abrams went to see Hamilton with his son, he met Miranda. That, Abrams told Jimmy Fallon last year, is when Jabba Flow was born.

"At intermission, Lin Manuel-Miranda – who wrote it and conceived in it and normally stars in it; he wasn’t in it that night – comes up to me and says hello," Abrams remembered.

"My mind is blown, because he’s so brilliant, and he says, ‘Hey, if you need music for the cantina, I’ll write it’. And he walks off. And I’m like, ‘Does he know?’

"Basically, we have a scene that’s sort of our version of the cantina scene, and John Williams, the master composer, said, ‘JJ, baby, I’d rather not write the music for that scene, I’d rather write the score’. 

"So I end up emailing Lin Miranda and I say, ‘I know you were kidding, but if you actually want to write this music, I’m actually working on something. He’s like, ‘I’ll drop everything’.”

The two exchanged music files (Abrams is a capable musician himself), and ended up co-writing the song together.

According to a lyrics sheet given out at Star Wars Celebration this year, the words are as follows.

(Oh Jabba)
(Oh Jabba)
Nobata tu tu muuni muuni               
Nobata tu tu muuni muuni
(Oh Jabba)
Nobata tu tu muuni muuni
Nobata tu tu muuni muuni
Bu du neeg
(Pato kateeg ateh)
A'chika bu du neeg
(Bota teeg)
(Oh Jabba)
Bu du neeg
(Pato kateeg ateh)
A'chika bu du neeg
(A'bo da teeg)
(Oh Jabba)
Tay'la dee la'seena

So, what do those lyrics actually mean?

On May 4, the same day the song was finally released for sale, Miranda and Abrams decided to give fans that were waiting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre hoping to score tickets to Hamilton a special Star Wars Day treat.

They performed the song together live, and Miranda revealed what the lyrics actually mean.

“It’s actually in Huttese, Jabba the Hutt’s language,” he explained. “I went to a website that had all of the Huttese glossary of terms, and it translates as, ‘No, lover, lover, it wasn’t me’.

“It’s literally a Shaggy intergalactic remix!”

Here’s their performance…

And here’s Shaggy’s classic jam from the year 2000, It Wasn’t Me (featuring, of course, Rikrok).

And, just because, here’s Lin-Manuel Miranda performing Yoda with Weird Al Yankovic in September.

Shaggy hasn’t come calling for his cut of the Jabba Flow millions yet – but it might not hurt Disney to have a few of their top legal eagles at the ready, just in case. 

That time Richard Pryor ran the Star Wars Bar

That time Richard Pryor ran the Star Wars Bar

The Rockwell Files: What Norman Rockwell means to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

The Rockwell Files: What Norman Rockwell means to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg