By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
Following my post, 5 Things We Can Appreciate About Rastafari, I’d like to share five snippets of inspiring lyrics from conscious reggae artists and groups.
While the purpose of reggae for most Rasta musicians is to express their faith, the topics discussed in reggae music aren’t limited to spirituality and you don’t have to be Rasta to play it. Even the reggae musicians who are Rasta don’t just sing about their faith; they also devote their lyrics to exposing injustice.
Most reggae music is filled with wisdom and good vibes, especially what was given to the world by pioneers of the genre in the sixties and seventies, and I’ll share some of that wisdom here in hopes that it inspires or encourages you.
Our first set of lyrics come from the legend, Bob Marley. These are from his popular, “Redemption Song”, which I’m sure most of you have heard.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfil de book.
“Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs” (1)
Our second set of lyrics comes from Bob’s oldest son, Ziggy Marley. The lyrics are from his song, “It”, and they show that he’s as wise as his father.
“Not all that glitter is gold, once a fool was told
Right before he sold his soul, his soul
and a man made his money, His money was on his mind
He got everything he wanted and he still wasn’t satisfied”
“A religious man is preaching, Said he found god
But he couldn’t go to heaven until he found love
The people they are listening, he caught them by surprise
He Confessed all his sins and he stopped telling lies” (2)
Our third set of lyrics comes from popular reggae group Steel Pulse, and it’s from their song, “Find It… Quick!” In this song, they lay out some general things that are wrong with the world and remind us that these things are all rooted in a lack of love.
“I can’t believe what I see
Mankind so incomplete
“Violence on your box at home
Shouts and screams
From your neighbours next door
Vandals prowl the dim lit streets
Muggers hide, In alleys they creep
This world, hatred has grown
Love fly gone out through the window
And we’ve got to find it” (3)
Our fourth set of lyrics comes from reggae group Rebelution. Most of you have probably heard of them, but if not, you don’t know what you’re missing! These lyrics come from their song, “Bright Side of Life”.
“Rise up, now make an impact
Now get your bags packed
Think about your life, the thrill
Don’t you cry, oh my my
Look on the bright side of life
“Somebody told me everything’s alright
That life’s too short to be afraid
Just leading up to what I want to say
Living should be giving it away
You’re contemplating every single day
And learning so we educate and be positive
It is what it is, come on set examples for the kids
“I don’t want to scare you no I don’t
It’s time you be a role model so, open up” (4)
Our final set comes from the song, “Faith Works” by SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army). I highly recommend this song and this group for reggae fans.
“Faith, works, and unconditional love
No bad mind, no hatred, no envy and no grudge.
Babylon destroy your minds they want to corrupt,
But I ‘n I have got to reach the higher heights up above”
“If a hawk can fly and show it’s love
with songs of praise and giving thanks
along 395’s polluted 10-lane highways –
And if a man like twice your age
can clean your house for minimum wage
and still somehow greet life with a big smile on his face…
Then why can’t we just show respect
for all things with no neglect and realize
that love it is the only way?
Then why can’t we accept the fact we’re lucky,
we need to give back – we’re foolish for not
humbling ourselves every day” (5)
Reggae has evolved since the seventies, and its evolution will continue as the years go on. One thing will always remain, however: the social and spiritual consciousness that permeates it.
Some reggae has gone mainstream and the artists responsible don’t use it to move the world forward, but the overwhelming majority of reggae is still positive and focused on sharing truth with a world that needs it.
I know I missed a lot of other great artists, and I could probably make a list of hundreds of conscious reggae songs that are helping the world evolve. What I shared here are some of the best and most inspiring lyrics I’ve found, and there’s always more out there to discover. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite reggae groups and songs.
Music is a powerful tool to raise awareness and wake up the world, and dedicated musicians everywhere will continue to fight for justice while sharing good vibes via uplifting melodies and conscious lyrics. Let’s remember to support the artists on the front lines trying to wake people up, and let’s figure out how we can contribute to the consciousness movement and get to work.
- Lyrics for Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” from Lyric Find – http://lyricfind.com
- Lyrics for Ziggy Marley’s “It” from AZ Lyrics – http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ziggymarley/it.html
- Lyrics for Steel Pulse’s “Find It…Quick!” from Lyric Find – http://lyricfind.com
- Lyrics for Rebelution’s “Bright Side of Life” from Lyrics.com – http://www.lyrics.com/bright-side-of-life-lyrics-rebelution.html
- Lyrics for SOJA’s “Faith Works” from AZ Lyrics – http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/soja/faithworks.html