Jamming With Jamaican Rastas

Jamming With Jamaican Rastas

Adventures with the Legends of Reggae

By David Tesinsky

David Tesinsky is a Czech photojournalist who focuses on exploring global subcultures. His never ending search for the unique and authentic finally landed him in Jamaica, where he went searching for the people who follow the Rastafarian way, in the hills, in the streets and inna di yards.

I went to Jamaica in search of real Rastafarians and the living legends of roots reggae and dub music. If you’re a foreigner it’s not easy to meet the real Rastas in the streets, because every other person with dreadlocks says, “I’m a Rasta!”.

A “Roots Rasta” should not drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, eat meat or chase money. Rasta is not about having dreadlocks. A rasta could be hairless but truly follows the paths of Haile Selassie. Rastas believe all of us have a connection with the universe. One Rastaman told me, “We are all part of one dread”. 

Although many people told me, “Kingston is dangerous for a white guy”. I had quite a good experience during my 45 days there. I rode my bike day and night around Kingston’s ghettos.

I did get caught by the police with a higher amount of weed than tolerated, and a man ripped my wallet out of my hand, but I took it back very fast. In general, I had a good experience - in my own way.

Music is very important to Jamaicans. There are sound systems in the streets, and very often they overlap each other, so you will find yourself listening to dancehall and dub at the same time. 

The volume from the​ sound systems are sometimes louder than you can stand.
Jamaica is a music factory. Most of the people play an instrument, sing dancehall or some type of reggae. I was surprised when I found out how easy it was to meet worldwide reggae legends in Jamaica.
Once I got lost and went into the wrong recording studio, but was quite lucky because Bunny Wailer and his band were there rehearsing for a European show. I heard them play the classic songs “No Woman No Cry” and “Legalize It” live. It was really something.
I met Eek-A-Mouse, Dillinger, Addis Pablo, Johnnie Walker, Prince Alla, Junior Byles, Kiddus-I, “Chinna” Smith and many others.
I will never forget the day when I walked around Spanish Town for the first time and I saw Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (a famous drummer, and the lead actor in the legendary Jamaican movie “Rockers”).  I yelled, “Horsemouth!” and he said, “Yeah, original rockers!”.

Photos © David Tesinsky

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