Rastafari music has transcended borders and cultures, being recognized for its deep spiritual message and its connection to the earth and nature. In this article, we will explore the origins, characteristics, subgenres and its influence, focusing especially on its relationship with cannabis use, a combination that many consider to be the best to smoke.

Origins of Rastafari music

African roots

Rastafari music has its roots deeply rooted in the rich musical traditions of the African continent. These traditions, which date back to time immemorial, are characterized by their deep connection to the spiritual and the earthly. Rhythm, in particular, plays a central role in African music, as it is considered a means to communicate with the divine and to express the joy, pain and hope of the people.

African drums, in their various shapes and sizes, are fundamental instruments in these musical traditions. Their pulsating rhythm and polyrhythmic patterns form the basis on which melodies and songs are built. In addition to the drums, other instruments such as the kora, balafon and various string and wind instruments are used to enrich the sound and add emotional depth to the music.

Caribbean influences

The Caribbean, with its unique blend of African, European and indigenous cultures, has been a breeding ground for Rastafari music. The vibrant rhythms and melancholic melodies of the Caribbean have found a deep echo in the heart and soul of the Rastafari movement. The lyrics, often deeply rooted in the historical and cultural experience of the region, reflect themes of resistance, liberation and unity.

Musical genres such as mento, ska and calypso have left an indelible mark on Rastafari music, influencing both its style and message. The infectious joy of ska, the syncopated cadence of reggae and the melancholy of dub are just some of the manifestations of this Caribbean influence on Rastafari music.

Cultural fusions

Rastafari music is a living testimony to the ability of cultures to merge and evolve. Within it, elements of African traditions intertwine with Caribbean influences to create a truly unique and powerful sound. Reggae, in particular, has been the primary vehicle through which these cultural fusions have taken place.

With its unmistakable rhythm and profound lyrics, reggae has conquered hearts and minds around the world, becoming a powerful tool of expression and resistance for the Rastafari movement.

Characteristics of Rastafari music

Spiritual and social messages

Rastafari music transcends the merely artistic to become a vehicle for transmitting spiritual and social messages. Interwoven in its lyrics are reflections on spirituality, the connection to the divine and the search for inner truth. These messages reflect the fundamental principles of the Rastafari movement, which advocates equality, justice and peace. In addition, Rastafari music often denounces social injustices, oppression and exploitation, urging resistance and the struggle for a more just and equitable world.

Distinctive musical elements

Rastafari music is characterized by a number of distinctive musical elements that give it its unique identity. These include syncopated rhythms, which create a sense of movement and vitality, and prominent basses, which provide a solid and forceful foundation to the music.

The lyrics address themes of liberation, unity and resistance, resonating with the experiences and aspirations of the Rastafari community. These elements are essential to the construction of the signature sound of reggae and other sub-genres of Rastafari music.

Characteristic instrumentation and rhythms

The instrumentation in Rastafari music is varied but always evocative. Nyabinghi drums, used in religious ceremonies, bring a tribal and powerful rhythm that connects with the African roots of the movement.

The guitars, often with a distorted and enveloping sound, create hypnotic atmospheres that invite contemplation and introspection. The deep, pulsating basses are a constant, setting the rhythm and giving body to the music. The keyboards, on the other hand, add textures and arrangements that enrich the overall sound. This combination of instrumentation and distinctive rhythms creates a unique listening experience, transporting the listener into a state of trance and deep reflection.

Music subgenres


Reggae music undoubtedly occupies a prominent place in the musical landscape of the Rastafari movement. Emerging in Jamaica in the 1960s, reggae is an amalgam of African and Caribbean influences that encapsulates the very essence of the Rastafari spirit. Its characteristic rhythms, marked by the skank of the guitar and the rhythm of the drums, create a solid foundation for lyrics that address themes as varied as love, spirituality and social protest.

Iconic figures such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer have elevated reggae to the status of a global phenomenon, taking the Rastafari message to every corner of the planet.


Dub, an experimental variant of reggae, is characterized by its focus on production and sound effects. Emerging in Jamaican recording studios in the late 1960s, dub transforms the original reggae songs by manipulating the mix, adding reverb and echoes, and overdubbing sound effects. This approach creates hypnotic and immersive soundscapes that transport the listener to a whole new dimension.

Dub, with its emphasis on experimentation and sonic exploration, has been a source of inspiration for musicians of all genres, from hip hop to electronic music.


Nyabinghi is more than just a musical genre, it is a form of spiritual and ceremonial expression for followers of the Rastafari movement. Originating in Jamaica, Nyabinghi is based on the use of traditional drums, such as the funde and repeater, to create rhythms that invoke the divine presence and promote unity among the faithful. Nyabinghi sessions are sacred occasions where spiritual hymns are sung and drum rituals are performed to celebrate faith and connection to the land and community.

Through Nyabinghi, Rastafarians find a way to express their devotion and solidarity, thus strengthening the bonds that unite them as a people.


Roots reggae, as its name implies, dives deep into the roots of reggae, celebrating African culture and the resistance of black people. Emerging in the 1970s as a response to reggae's growing commercialism, roots reggae emphasizes authenticity and social consciousness in its lyrics and rhythms. Roots reggae songs often address themes of oppression, emancipation and the search for the promised land, reflecting the struggle for equality and justice that characterizes the Rastafari movement.

Artists such as Burning Spear, Culture and Steel Pulse are prominent exponents of this genre, whose songs resonate with a powerful message of resistance and hope.


Dancehall, which emerged in Jamaica in the 1980s, represents a more modern evolution of reggae, focusing on danceable rhythms and lyrics that address themes of partying, romance and social consciousness. With its infectious energy and catchy lyrics, dancehall has gained popularity around the world, becoming a global phenomenon that transcends borders and cultures.

Dancehall has also been used as a platform to address important issues such as.

  • poverty,
  • violence and
  • social inequality,

He has managed to showcase the versatility and continued relevance of the genre within the Rastafari movement.

The relationship between Rastafari music and cannabis use

History and symbolism

The use of the cannabis among followers of the Rastafari movement has deep historical and symbolic roots. For many Rastafarians, cannabis, known as "ganja" or "sacred herb," is considered a blessed plant, a gift from nature that facilitates spiritual communion. This perception dates back to ancient African traditions, where it was used for ritual and healing purposes. In the context of the Rastafari movement, cannabis use is associated with

  • the search for inner wisdom,
  • meditation
  • The connection with Jah, the supreme God.

Music as an accompaniment to smoking

Rastafari music is an inseparable companion of cannabis consumption for many followers of this philosophy. The combination of relaxing melodies, enveloping rhythms and spiritual lyrics creates an ideal atmosphere to enjoy the smoking experience. From the infectious rhythms of reggae to the soundscapes of dub, Rastafari music provides the perfect backdrop to immerse oneself in a state of relaxation and contemplation.

It is common to listen to Rastafari music while sharing a "chalice" of cannabis at social gatherings or during moments of personal introspection. This practice enhances the physical and emotional sensations associated with cannabis use. It also strengthens the sense of community and belonging among followers of the Rastafari movement.

Artistic expression and spirituality

The consumption of cannabis while listening to Rastafari music can be considered a form of artistic and spiritual expression. For many Rastafarians, this activity represents more than simply smoking and listening to music; it is a manifestation of their faith, a way of connecting with the divine and celebrating life in all its fullness.

The sensory experience of combining cannabis with Rastafari music can:

  • Open doors to spiritual perception,
  • Inspire creativity and
  • Promote a sense of unity with nature and with others.

In this sense, the act of smoking cannabis becomes a sacred ritual, a way of honoring the land and remembering the promise of a full and free life in the "promised land" that symbolizes the Rastafari ideal.


In conclusion, Rastafari music is much more than just a form of entertainment; it is a vehicle for cultural, spiritual and social expression that transcends borders and generations. Its power to connect people to the divine and promote unity and resilience is undeniable, and its association with cannabis use has created a unique sensory experience for many, making it the best music to listen to while smoking.

As we reflect on his legacy and its continuity into the future, it is crucial to preserve his essence and his message of love, peace and unity, ensuring that it continues to inspire and uplift people around the world.

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