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Jamaica's Sweet
Reggae Music

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Reggae music is as unique to Jamaica as the blue mountain coffee!
We created, nurtured, promotes and cherish it here.

Bob Marley by ScumFrog

Many thanks to the stalwarts- past and present, who helped to create this distinctive product that is now internationally acclaimed.

Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Prince Buster are notable contributors to Reggae's popularity and success. Of course, Bob Marley became our best known ambassador.

For the purist in music, Mike Turks defines it by saying:

Generally Reggae is founded upon a rhythm style characterized by regular chops on the back beat, known as the skank.

This rhythmic style is played by a rhythm guitar and a bass drum hitting on the third beat of each measure known as the one drop. This beat is slower than that found in reggae's precursors, ska and rock steady. The emphasis of the beat is on, for example, beats 2 and 4, when in 4/4 time.

This backbeat is characteristic of all African-based musics and is not found in traditional European or Asian music. Reggae drummers also emphasize the third beat when in 4/4 time with a kick to the bass drum.

Lilian Gold by Rasta Ralph Yeh Meek by Rasta Ralph Buju Banton by Willi Hybrid
[selected pics from flickr] [More on Jamaican culture here]

Reggae includes two sub-genres, Roots Reggae (the original reggae) and Dancehall Reggae, which originated in the late 1970s.

One of the main themes of traditional reggae has been social liberation. This has both political and religious aspects. Needless to say, Reggae is the fuel for the Rastafari Movement here in Jamaica and the world!

It is said that Reggae is not only the precursor to the modern Jamaican style of Dub, but also to American Ska, Jambands, and British reggae-based bands, example UB40. It is also a predecessor to the now popular Hip-Hop and Rap music although a very clear line can be drawn between the two.

Some of the lyrical themes in reggae have been viewed as controversial. Some of these themes — like marijuana use have been prevalent in reggae music throughout its history, whilst others — such as homophobia are a more recent phenomenon.

That said though, I tell you, Jamaican Reggae has undoubtedly made an indelible mark on world music. Today, scores and scores of dedicated reggae festivals are held each year around the world.

Some of the popular ones includes:

  • Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Soèa Reggae Riversplash, Tolmin, Slovenia,
  • Notting Hill Carnival, London, UK &
  • Uppsala Reggae Festival, Sweden
  • Plus many more!

In addition, there are many media programs, hundreds of websites, and scores of publications, that captures Reggae.

Reggae is also increasingly used in movies. Moreover various reggae artistes have won prestigious world music awards and are charting new courses in Reggae.

Today, Reggae giants such as Morgan's Heritage, Luciano & Buju Banton still wave the traditional Reggae music flag high, while artistes such as Sean Paul and Shaggy and Shaun Paul represents us well with a more contemporary style of Reggae.

Just to let you know as well; two of the biggest achievements of Bob Marley and by extension Reggae, were the awards of the Song of the Millennium by the BBC, and Exodus as the Album of the Century by Time Magazine. [kinda impressive isn't it?]

There is some concern of impropriety and lewdness becoming more evident in today’s dancehall reggae.

Despite this, Reggae music - in general, continues to captivate the minds and hearts of many the world over. Today, many non-traditional reggae cultures are embracing Reggae because of the spirit of oneness and unity it brings.

For more information on dancehall reggae, including the latest news, mix-up, and events, visit www.dancehallreggaeworld.com.

First Posted: 8/25/2008

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