Reggae music is an important part of the Jamaican culture, originating there in the 1960s and typically addressing social and political topics. Epitomized by Bob Marley, the genre is folk music combined with an activist spirit, taking the plight of the underprivileged and broadcasting it. Reggae's underlying spiritual themes are tied to Rastafarian, a religion influenced heavily by African culture.
A brief history of Jamaica includes slavery and colonization, and understanding the religion of the Rastafarian people is tied to both. In the 1930s, the religion came to the forefront when Haile Selassie I was named "Emperor" of Ethiopia. Considered to be a descendant of Biblical times, he galvanized displaced Africans everywhere, and his teachings became the root of the Rastafarian faith.
The Rastafarian faith, as echoed by reggae music, stresses black independence, provided a national religion when political tensions were mounting in Jamaica and is aggressively against oppression in all forms. In a country where the majority of people were living on the wrong side of the coin, the music inspired and offered hope to those who had little.
Bob Marley became reggae's spokesman and took the new genre to an international level where the music and its message reached millions of people and put the plight of the Jamaican people in the spotlight.