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Unlikely Rastas

by Rachel Devitt

Unlikely Rastas

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In case you haven't heard, friends, Bob Marley walks among us again. Or at least that's the story that Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka the self-proclaimed second coming of Marley himself, is spinning with the release of his first reggae album, Reincarnated. While Snoop's take on his transition is a bit far-fetched, the 420-happy rapper's foray into reggae is a pretty natural one (and you know what? It sounds pretty good, too!). But Snoop isn't the first non-Caribbean artist to take a hit off that sweet Jamaican riddim.

No, a long history of unlikely rastas exists within reggae music: Some, like "Jawaiian" band The Green, are part of serious reggae scenes that have cropped up in places like Hawai'i, Japan and Indonesia, and become significant enough that local outfits sometimes outsell big-name Jamaican stars. Some are die-hard anomalies, like Canada's not-quite-ironically named Snow or Italy's Alborosie, who actually moved to Jamaica, "learned" rasta patois and got signed to Bob Marley's label. And some are one-off projects from sources as out there as Willie Nelson, Sinead O'Connor and Serge Gainsbourg (!).

The resulting music is, at the very least, fascinating and often downright freaking irie. They may not be Jamaican -- heck, some of them may never even have been to Jamaica -- but these born-again rastas are true believers in the idea of "One Love," at least musically speaking. Listen up!

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