Tracing the History Between Weed & Reggae

Blog,reggae news 12/18/2013 1:39 pm

Lutan Fyah

For most fans of music, reggae and marijuana are inexplicably linked. That is, when people think reggae, they also think about laid-back, dredlocked musicians who puffed a mariijuana pipe in-between laying down rhythms. Even reggae music’s most legendary figure, Bob Marley, is known as much for his pro-weed sensibilities as he was for his socially conscious lyricism and rousing beats. But the all-important question remains: How did reggae and ganja become so interlinked?

A popular modern reggae artist named Lutan Fyah suggests that reggae was a way for the poor people of Jamaica to express their views and way of life, which is how weed became involved with the musical movement. He says: “The originators, the ones who pioneered reggae music, those were the ones that used the herb to gain enlightenment and inspiration.”

“it really came from the poor”

These oftentimes disenfranchised artists used the herb to help convey their message. Fyan continues, “If you check where this music is coming from and the time when it started out, you realise that it really came from the poor. They saw reggae music as a chance to say what they wanted to say and share their views and that’s how weed came up in reggae.”

Of course, reggae’s roots are firmly entrenched in the Rastafarian movement, which requires its adherents to not only consume, but also distribute, cannabis as a sacrament and herbal medicine.

Hempress Sativa, another popular reggae artist, uses marijuana to help meditate before creating her music. In essence, ganja enables her to properly pay homage to Rastafari, as well as help her music achieve the right groove and vibe.

For some reggae fans, the prevalence of marijuana in reggae culture is more of a source of nuisance than inspiration. Laura, a journalist and social activist who writes for the legendary group, Jah Works, suggests that weed is an addictive herb that is responsible for people losing their jobs, damaging their relationships, falling behind on rent, and draining their bank account.

Laura also feels as if the indispensable link that marijuana plays in informing reggae culture actually has damaging sociocultural effects. The journalist is not a fan of weed herself and does not smoke, but whenever she comes home from a reggae show, she smells strongly of the herb.

Additionally, when Laura passes up the chance to hit a bowl, eat a weed-laced cookie, or pass the pipe, she is branded as a “square” and not a true ambassador of the culture.

This unfortunate circumstance brings up an important question: Although weed and marijuana are culturally united as one, how crucial a role does ganja play in the actual music itself?

While many legendary reggae musicians past and present frequently toke or toked up, Lutan Fyah says that weed is nothing more than a stereotype of his music. He says: It’s not the music that we should associate with weed, it’s the people who do the music. The music is pure and original. As a reggae artiste, I cannot say that weed is essential in what I’m doing.”