Saturday, April 14, 2007

Music and Rastafarianism

The music of many rastafarians address a myriad of social issues.
Photo taken from:

The influence of Rastafari music on fashion dreads

Music is a very important part of Rastafarianism. Roots reggae is the genre of music that has been linked to Rastafarianism because of the influence of the different artistes who fall under this category. There are many rastafarian artistes who have sung extensively about rastafarianism, poverty and the "oppressive babylon system" (The government).
Robert "Bob" Marley is one of the more prominent Rastafarians who have contributed to the popularity of the movement. Bob Marley was born in Jamaica, and it can be said that he is the main reason why rastafarianism is synonymous with Jamaica, internationally. He is seen by many as a prophet of the movement and has brought to the world songs such as "No Woman No Cry", "Resemption Song" and the very popular, "One Love".

Bob Marley during one of his many performances before his death in 1981, at age 36.
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Bob's songs have transcended cultural, economic, political and social boundaries, and he is often referred to as one of the pioneers of reggae in Jamaica. His 1984 album, Legend, which was released after his death, is the best selling reggae album of all time, amassing sales in excess of 12 million copies. Bob Marley along with other Roots Reggae pioneers, have had significant influence on the musical culture of Jamaica. They have created a music genre that is unique yet infectous. It is this, among other characteristics, that has made Rastafarian music popular, even today.
"The creative pinnacle of roots reggae may have been in the late 1970s, with singers such as Burning Spear , Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Barrington Levy and Linval Thompson teaming up with studio producers including Lee 'Scratch' Perry, King Tubby, and Coxsone Dodd. The experimental pioneering of producers within often-restrictive technological parameters gave birth to dub music, which has been considered one of the earliest contributions to the developments of Techno music." (Source:

Bob Marley performing his hit song "War", which addresses the conflict between races, colour and countries.

Select the links below to watch more Bob Marley videos:
Natty Dread-Bob Marley
Roots, Rock, Reggae-Bob Marley

Rastafari and fashion

Cartoon depicting the influence of rastafarians on tourists. Photo taken from:

This video from youtube highlights the influence of rastafarianism and Bob Marley on fashion.

The role of Rastafari movement in everyday fashion

It is often said that clothes are a very important part of the overall look of an individual. The specific style and design of clothes are usually dependent on the person's personal taste.
Over the years, clothing depicting the rastafarian colours of red, green and yellow, have become popular, with many designers producing clothes that 'play on' people's love for rastafarian colours. As a result of people's increasing fascination with the colours, they have become fashion statements themselves.
Whether it be belts, shirts, shoes or hats, rasta colours are incorporated in many designs and are worn almost everywhere.

The international brand New Balance has also capitalised on the popularity of Rasta colours.
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In not only Jamaica but internationally, many persons can be observed wearing Rastafarian colours.

The local designing company Cooyah is known for its use of rasta colours in designs. This hat is one such example. Photo taken from:

The evolution of Fashion dreads

Dreadlocks is the most obvious identifying feature of Rastafarianism.
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The integration of fashion dreads within the movement

The Rastafari movement was established in the 1930s in what is often referred to as the 'slums' of Jamaica. It is primarily based on the main teachings of Marcus Garvey, who Rastafarians refer to as a prophet. His main ideology with regards to repatriation to Africa, is one of the primary features of the movement, with many Rastafarians looking forward to the day when they 'go back to Africa'. They call Africa the motherland and are ready to leave 'Babylon' (Jamaica) and the oppressive system. The movement is named after Ras Tafari who became Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in the 1930s. He is seen as the king of the movement and is referred to as their living god.

While these ideologies are kept and practiced by many Rastafarians around the world, there are many persons who align with the movement because of its increasing fashion appeal. These persons are referred to as Fashion dreads, since they are more concerned with he fashion aspect of the movement.

The Rastafarian flag depicting the lion of judah.
Photo taken from:

The rastafarian colours of red, green and yellow, have been paraded on streetsides, in homes and on television, with many persons adorning themselves in attire that represents these colours. Not only that, but dreadlocks, which is also a main feature of the faith, has evolved considerably since the movement's formation in the 1930s. Many persons can be observed 'sporting' dreadlocks, some neatly groomed. Dreadlocks as a fashion statement has garnered significant support over the years, and many persons have caught on to this new fad.

While there is no doubt that there are genuine rastafarians who wear dreadlocks because of their belief in the faith and their obedience of the teachings of the movement, it cannot be denied that for many persons dreadlocks is nothing more than a fashion statement. A fad that is cool now, but will soon be done away with once the 'hype' dies down.
This blog therefore seeks to highlight the different dimensions of what the movement represents for most fashion dreads. That is, how fashion dreads use the rastafari symbols for their benefit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fashion dreads and locks


Traditional rastafarians wear their hair in huge tufts. Locks are usually formed without the use of any moisturising or visits to hair salon, as is the case with fashion dreads Photo taked from"

Dreadlocks and the fashion dread

An important aspect of identifying with the fashion side of rastafarianism is copying the very popular dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have been worn by Rastafarians since the establishment of the faith, and is the main identifying feature of the movement. Locks within the movement, evolved out of rastafarians' need to have a feature that instantly identifies them. It was said that they looked dreadful wearing locks, and hence the name dreadlocks. However, rastafarian's deep-rooted belief in the wearing of locks was influenced by one of the three Nazarite vows in the book of Numbers in the Bible.

"All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."
-Numbers 6:5

Today, many persons have moved away from the biblical foundations of the wearing of dreadlocks, and have opted instead to associate with it because of its fashion appeal. Over the years, dreadlocks have increasingly become a genuine fashion 'must', with persons preferring this hairstyle over the usually relaxed or natural hair.
The difference between dreadlocks worn by most rastafarians and those worn by fashion dreads is that the latter often go through the process of getting it interlocked in order to keep it neat and well groomed. The process involves regular wash, moisturizing and interlocking where stray hair caused by growth is integrated within the main locks using a special type of comb. Hair wax or any other type of holding moisturizer is used to keep the hair in place.

Dreadlocks similar to these are usually interlocked, to achieve the neat look that is seen here. The use of dyes and 'bleaching' agents have also become popular with fashion dreads.
- Photo taken from

Latoya Smith* is a 20-year-old student who has opted to sport 'locks' instead of relaxing her hair. Her reason for this is simple, she says. "I decided to grow locks because its easier to maintain. I don't have to wake up every morning and worry about combing my hair when getting dressed. All I do is rub some moisturizer in it, and I am good to go." Smith has been growing her hair for three years, and says she plans to continue for a long time. She also admits that the fashion appeal of locks was what initially persuaded her to try it.

Leslie Green* also sports locks. He is a 21-year-old engineer, who says he was initially attracted to Rastafarianism and subsequently dreadlocks. He adds however, that his locks soon became untidy, and he therefore decided to have them professionally interlocked. He adds that, while he doesn't subscribe to all the tenets of rastafarianism, there are some aspects that appeal to him. Dreadlocks is one of them.
* Names changed by request.

For additional information about locks check out the following link: Grooming your locks