Template:Genrebox Reggae is a style of music developed in Jamaica and is closely linked to the Rastafari movement, though not universally popular among Rastafarians. It is founded upon its rhythm style, which is characterized by regular chops on the backbeat, played by the rhythm guitarist and the bass drum often hitting on the third beat of each measure-- this is called the "one drop."



Its origins can be found in traditional African Caribbean music as well as US R&B. Ska and rocksteady are 1960s precursors of reggae. In 1963, Jackie Mittoo was asked to run sessions and compose original music by record producer Coxsone Dodd at his Studio One record studio. Mittoo turned the traditional ska beat into reggae. Bob Marley, who later popularized the style on a world-wide basis, also recorded rocksteady records early in his career. By the late 1960's reggae was already getting radio play in the UK on John Peel's radio show.


In Jamaica however, new styles are nowadays becoming more popular, among them, dancehall and ragga (or raggamuffin reggae). Dub is an instrumental sub-style of reggae. Mixing techniques employed in dub probably influenced Hip hop, drum and bass and other styles. In any case, the toasting or dee jaying of raggamuffin reggae — first used by artists such as Dillinger or U-Roy — had a world-wide impact because Jamaican DJ Kool Herc used them as he came up with a new style later called hip hop or rap music. In the Jamaican sense of the word, a "DJ" is an "MC" or rapper, whereas the term "DJ" describes the music selector in the US. Therefore what is called dee jaying, toasting or chatting in Jamaica is called rapping in most other parts of the world.


Template:Jamaicanmusic This is the name given to specifically Rastafarian reggae music. It is a spiritual type of music, whose lyrics are predominantly in praise of God or Jah Rastafari, whom they consider to be Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892–1975).

Recurrent lyrical themes include poverty and resistance to the oppression of government. The creative pinnacle of roots reggae is arguably in the late 1970s, with singers such as Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Barrington Levy, and Lincoln Thompson teaming up with studio producers including Lee 'Scratch' Perry, King Tubby, and Coxsone Dodd. The experimental pioneering of such producers within often restricted technological parameters gave birth to dub reggae, and is seen by some music historians as one of the earliest (albeit analogue) contributions to the development of techno.

Roots reggae was an important part of Jamaican culture, and whilst other forms of reggae have replaced it in terms of popularity in Jamaica (Dancehall for instance), roots reggae has found a small, but growing, niche globally.


Rockers is a sub-genre of popular in the mid to late 1970s, existing simultaneously. The name is derived from the Rockers sound system, owned by Dub legend Augustus Pablo. Rockers is also sometimes known as Lover's Rock, referring to the romantic subject matter prevalent in some artists' work. Important artists and bands include Gregory Isaacs, Horace Andy, Black Uhuru, Junior Murvin and Dennis Brown. Rockers Reggae was also the sub-genre played by British-Jamaican groups Steel Pulse, Aswad and Matumbi.

Social issues

One of the main themes of reggae music has been social liberation. This has both political and religious aspects.

Political awakening

The music attempts to raise the political consciousness of the audience:
The American dream
Is not what it seem.
Why do you slumber? (Jimmy Cliff, "American Dream" 1983)

Alternatives to orthodox religious dogma

It also militates for freedom from religious delusion:
Most people think
Great God will come from the skies
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You would look for yours on earth
And now you've seen the light
You stand up for your rights. (Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up")

Freedom of religious expression

Repression of many kinds, and especially repression linked with the prohibition of ganja, or marijuana, which is considered a sacrament by Rastafarians, is another recurring theme in the music.


In recent years some reggae artists have come under growing criticism and actions for lyrics encouraging homophobia and gay bashing. Homophobic lyrics have been described by J-FLAG, a Jamaican gay right organization, as one aspect of "widespread [Jamaican] cultural bias against homosexuals and bisexuals." Artists whose music features homophobic lyrics, such as Sizzla, have had concerts cancelled. (Sizzla was also banned from entering Great Britain and investigated by Scotland Yard on the accusation that his lyrics incited the audience to murder gays.) This has given cause to the banned artists to claim that their freedom of speech is being curtailed.

Reggae music festivals

Jamaican reggae music festivals

International reggae music festivals

Music samples

Music Samples
Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley

See also

External links

  • ( more than 30.000 reggae photos!
  • RASTAFARIAN.NL (, all about rasta and reggae!
  • Article ( — examines the use of psalms in Rasta lyrics
  • [[1] (]
  • ( Oldest Reggae Portal
  • ( Reggae Community

Reggae | Reggae genres
Mento - Rocksteady - Ska
Dub - Dub poetry - Dee jaying - Dancehall - Ragga - Raggamuffin - Reggaeton - Rockers reggae - Roots rock reggae - Skinhead reggae - Two Tone
Other topics
Haile Selassie - Jamaica - Marcus Mosiah Garvey - Rastafari movement - Skinheads

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