Big Up Yuself


“Give thanks!”, “Praise Jah!”. Such phrases are linked to only one group, one land mass, Jamaicans(Jamaica).

On closer look the nucleus is from a sub group of originals in Jamaica, known as Rastas. They believe that Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia, was a direct descendant of the Bible’s King Solomon, making him of the Kingly tribe of Judah, through which Jesus came.

In addition, this group allows their hair to grow, not shaving as the Bible times men did, hence, the “dread locks”; to complete their distinction the Rastas, smoke weed, and play the drums,  waiting on “Jah” (Jehovah God) for salvation. They, and their language and lifestyle, were combinely ostracized on the island, many thought of their members as “crazy”,the fringe of society.

Jamaican music was limited to “ska” and “rock steady” where the concentration was on the rhythm guitar being played at the speed of rock and roll. Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin tried the latter, but the art form got nowhere in the US.

Then Bob Marley came along. He was mixed, he allowed his hair to grow, he liked weed, he also liked the Rasta drum beat; musical engineers slowed the pace of the music to replicate the wailing of the Rastas, as they prayed to Jah; then, “Walla!” It worked! The music was renamed Reggae, international audiences, who became tired of rock music, saw weed and reggae as a blessed alternative, and the flood gates were opened, especially in Europe.

Bob Marley became iconic, reggae became a commodity for export, the Rasta man gained respect and financial clout, and along with those components, his language, food, and lifestyle, forced critics to call it all,  admirable art.

In Baltimore, there are several Jamaican restaurants, and I wanted to go to one that reflected the entire compilation of the culture. I picked SWEET HOME JAMAICA, in South Baltimore. What a night it was, “Big Up!” Sweet Home. (See video.)


Monica L. Rasaki of reggae band SOUL ELEMENTS
Former Emperor Haile Salassie
The RASTA man in Jamaica today.
RASTA MAN in Jamaica today.

Published by Oswald Copeland

Born 1946, Georgetown Guyana, South America. Broadcast journalist since 1968. Been living in the United States, since 1974. Has done extensive work in sales and marketing, and likes to write about culture in and around Baltimore Md. His personal passion is healthy living: Creator and Executive Editor of THECULTUREPAGEDOTCOM.

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