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54-46 Was My Number 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 as "Train to Skaville" by Toots & the Maytals' contemporaries The Ethiopians.

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I said yeah, listen what I say
I said hear me now, listen what I say

I said stick it up mister
Hear what I say sir
Get your hands in the air,…

Toots and The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number Lyrics

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