This is the closing track of Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley's most successful album in the US during his lifetime. The song decried Jamaica's status as a pawn of the capitalist US atop a chord structure adapted from a Philly soul hit. Guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith told Mojo that the song came together when he started jamming on the Spinners 1974 track "Since I Been Gone" along with keyboard player Tyrone Downie and drummer Carly Barrett. Bunny Wailer suggested they add an intro, and Marley came up with they lyrics along with his wife, Rita.
Don't involve Rasta in your say say Rasta don't work for no C.I.A Rat race, rat race, rat race! Rat race, I'm saying
"Rat Race" is a term used to describe the frustrating, competitive lifestyle lived by countless people in the west. Critics of the capitalist, free-market economy argue that westerners feel like they are caught on a treadmill as they strive without success to get ahead of their rivals. Marley was no fan of the capitalist system and criticized American attempts to impose it in his homeland.
Rastaman Vibration reached #8 on the Billboard 200, the highest US chart position any Wailers' album would achieve during Marley's lifetime.