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Jah Shaka has been operating a South East London-based, roots reggae Jamaican sound system since the early 1970s. His name is an amalgamation of the Rastafarian term for God and that of a Zulu warrior, Shaka Zulu.
Jah Shaka started out on the Freddie Cloudburst Sound System as an operator, before setting up his own sound system. By the late 1970s Shaka's system rapidly had gained a large and loyal following due to the combination of spiritual content, high energy rhythms, massive sonority, and his dynamic personal style. That following notably included many of the pioneers of post-punk such as Public Image Ltd and The Slits.
In 1980 Shaka played himself in the film Babylon (directed by Franco Rosso, although he directed the scene he appeared in), operating his Sound System in a soundclash at the climax of the story.
Shaka stayed true to his spiritual and distinct musical style during the 1980s when many other Sound Systems had started to follow the Jamaican trend towards playing less orthodox styles tending towards slack dancehall music.
In 1989 Shaka visited Jamaica and worked with many musicians there, including King Tubby.
On 23 September 2000 he suffered numerous injuries during a house fire.