In many ways it was music that brought the Rastas into the limelight.
Be it the early days, when you had mento acts on the island, such as Lord Lebby, talking about Ethiopianism, or the 1970s, when reggae hit the mainstream worldwide with acts and Rastas such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and others, reggae music has always had close links with the Rastas.
Often described as ‘Bad Friday’, the attack was the Jamaican security forces’ response to an incident in which a group of bearded men – who were assumed to be Rastafarian – set fire to a petrol station and killed two police officers.
But to this day, many in Jamaica’s Rastafarian community insist that Rastas were wrongfully blamed for the attack on the petrol station, and last month, hundreds of Rastas took part in a protest march to mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Bad Friday’.
The Soul Jazz compilation, possibly the most righteous record to be released to date by the label, is a good primer about the interplay between the music and religion. Musically, it’s a great account of how Rastafari beliefs found their way into the sound of acts such as Ashanti Roy, Johnny Clarke, Winston & Ansell, Rod Taylor and many others.But the compilation also presents a compelling socioeconomic tale of how the Rasta religion grew in profile and popularity in Jamaica from the 1930s on.Selassie was a Christian and was reportedly quite astonished by the Rasta belief in his powers, although this did not lessen their devotion to him.When the Rastafari movement first came to prominence on the island, it was against a backdrop of colonialism, economic depression and a growing awareness around the notion of independence led by figures such as Garvey.But despite the criticism the culture has received, today, the Rastafarian way of life has become vogue and its principles are now greatly encouraged across mainstream media, as a means to combat modern day challenges, stress and illness.