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What Is Reggae? An Ultimate Guide

Did you recognize that reggae music grew from various musical styles that include ska, rocksteady, and calypso? 

For the reason that time it was first born back within the Nineteen Sixties, reggae has turn out to be one in all the world’s most easily-recognizable and popular types of music. Despite how popular it’s turn out to be, the genre’s top musicians proceed to honor its cultural roots. 

Unfortunately, there are various misconceptions that individuals have about reggae music. To assist clear up confusion, we have written a guide. Read on when you’ve been asking yourself “what’s reggae,” and we are going to inform you the whole lot that it is advisable know. 

The Origins of Reggae 

The primary people to play reggae music lived in Jamaica within the Nineteen Sixties. They were inspired by traditional Jamaican folk genres akin to mento, rocksteady, and ska. 

After originating in Jamaica, reggae music spread across the Caribbean, into the US, and the world over. Despite how popular it’s turn out to be, it’s still a vital aspect of Jamaican traditions and culture. 

What Musical Styles Influenced Reggae?

There are lots of musical styles which have influenced reggae. Listed below are several of an important ones. 


Mento music has been a vital a part of Jamaican culture for a few years. It has its roots in African music.

Through the early seventeenth century, British and Spanish slave ships began arriving in Africa. They captured and enslaved natives and brought them to the West Indies, including to the island that’s now often known as Jamaica. 

Enslaved people took their music with them to the West Indies. Over the centuries, their music evolved into a method often known as mento. 

The style became popular within the Nineteen Fifties and incorporates a spread of instruments akin to the banjo, hand drums, rhumba box, and acoustic guitar. 


This sort of Jamaican folk music is made for dancing, and it was born within the Nineteen Fifties. By the Nineteen Sixties it had turn out to be Jamaica’s most significant musical genre. Normally, ska songs address essential social issues. 

This genre combines facets of mento, calypso, and jazz. 


Rocksteady evolved from ska and began rising in popularity within the Nineteen Sixties. The vast majority of musicians who created reggae played rocksteady first. A few of the most famous rocksteady musicians include The Techniques, Delroy Wilson, Jackie Mittoo, and Alton Ellis. 

Regardless that there are various similarities between ska and rocksteady, it is easy to inform the 2 genres apart. Rocksteady is slower than ska and musicians often overemphasize the offbeat chords that they play. Whenever you’re listening to rocksteady, you will likely also notice that the lyrics are inclined to be political. 

Not only did rocksteady encourage musicians to create reggae, nevertheless it also influenced rock music in the US. 

The Connection between Rastafarianism and Reggae

Since reggae is such a vital aspect of Jamaican culture, it also has a detailed relationship with the Rastafarian religion and with Jamaican social movements within the early twentieth century. 

During these years, Jamaicans often rioted against their governments. This is a component of the rationale why the country experienced so many revolutions.

Individuals who fought against the federal government for his or her freedom eventually created a faith called Rastafarianism. They used reggae music to share their messages of resistance all over the world. For this reason so many reggae songs are inclined to be spiritual and have lyrics about things akin to social justice and resistance to oppression. 

There are a number of reggae artists who still practice Rastafarianism. For this reason it’s one in all the primary things that individuals take into consideration after they hear reggae music. 

The primary reggae musicians akin to Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, and Burning Spear were capable of share the message of Rastafarianism across the planet.

Many individuals think that these sorts of ideas wouldn’t have spread beyond the borders of Jamaica if reggae music didn’t exist. For this reason reggae music is top-of-the-line examples of how music transcends culture

The primary reggae artists spoke often in regards to the values of freedom, unity, and love. Their goal was to encourage people to rise up in resistance to oppression. Additionally they desired to bring heaven to earth and replace Babylon with the promised land of Zion. 

Reggae Subgenres that You Should Know About

There are lots of different reggae subgenres that it’s best to learn about. Listed below are a few of an important ones. 

Roots Reggae 

One of the crucial well-known subgenres of reggae is often known as roots reggae. It is common for roots reggae artists to sing in regards to the each day challenges and dreams of African people.

Their lyrics also are inclined to concentrate on the spiritual facets of Rastafarianism and black liberation. They typically confer with Jah, which is a way of addressing God. This subgenre is hottest with those that are poor and live in rural areas or in urban ghettos. 

Most of the albums that artists akin to Bob Marley and Peter Tosh recorded come from this genre. 


Dub is a variety of electronic music that evolved from reggae. It is simple to discover this reggae subgenre since it involves a lot mixing of recorded music. Because it first originated, the genre has shifted to include influences from various musical styles from all over the world. 

Dub musicians are inclined to incorporate instrumental remixes. Additionally they manipulate recordings by drawing out rhythm sections. Several of an important dub artists include Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, Augustus Pablo, and Errol Thompson. 

Lovers Rock

Lovers rock is a romantic reggae subgenre. Its lyrics often address the topic of affection. The primary lovers rock musicians got here from South London and the subgenre began becoming popular within the mid-Seventies.


Dancehall music has faster rhythms and infrequently makes use of digital instrumentation. Singers often sing their songs in Jamaican Patois, which is a creole language that relies on English. 


Reggaeton musicians first got here on the scene within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. This subgenre has a robust relationship with American hip hop and Latin American music. Most artists sing their songs in Spanish and so they often rap. 

The Rise in Popularity of Reggae Music 

It’s difficult to separate Jamaican history from reggae music. For this reason UNESCO recognized it as a cultural institution. Listed below are a few of an important stages in the expansion of reggae. 

The Harder They Come, By Jimmy Cliff

People from all over the world first began hearing about reggae music due to the movie The Harder They Come. The film has a socio-political storyline which is accompanied by a terrific reggae soundtrack. 

Shortly after the movie’s release, many reggae artists began gaining popularity. The Harder They Come was the primary Jamaican feature-length movie. It was in regards to the early years of reggae and it helped people from across the planet to grasp what the Jamaican lifestyle was all about. 

Bob Marley’s Influence on Reggae

By the point Bob Marley became famous, reggae was getting ready to bursting into the mainstream. On the time that he began recording his first albums within the Nineteen Sixties, most Jamaicans were in poverty, and Jamaica itself was getting ready to civil war. 

Marley’s songs and lyrics addressed these issues. They inspired people to rise up in resistance against their oppressors with the intention of bringing a few revolution. 

Bob Marley used his music to fight for human rights and to interact in political activism. That is one in all the the explanation why the people of Jamaica recognized him as their moral leader. 

Reggae within the Present Day 

Bob Marley continues to be the world’s most well-known reggae musician. And reggae continues to be a well-liked genre and lots of popular songs akin to those by Rihanna are influenced by it. 

There are numerous contemporary reggae fusion subgenres. This includes seggae, two-tone, samba-reggae, and reggaestep. These styles are popular all over the world, including in cities akin to Miami, London, and Latest York City. 

What Is Reggae?

When you’ve been asking yourself “what’s reggae,” it is important to know that it’s a genre of music that comes from Jamaica and that first became popular all over the world within the 1960. A few of an important reggae subgenres include dub, dancehall, reggaeton, and roots reggae. 

When you are fascinated about learning more in regards to the music and the musicians of the Bahamas, Let The Music Play Bahamas is here to assist you. Our goal is to bridge connections and collaborate with musicians within the Bahamas and all over the world. Contact us when you are fascinated about checking out more about get entangled. 

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