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What Are Some Must Listen Reggae Songs For Beginners?

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live_reggae_music_getting_stamped.jpgWhat Are Some Must Listen Reggae Songs For Beginners?

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Reggae music is more than just a genreโ€”it's a part of our culture that has spread its influence across the globe. Rooted here in Jamaica, reggae's infectious rhythms, soulful melodies, and socially conscious lyrics have captivated audiences for decades.

If you are beginning your journey into the world of reggae, here's a great selection of must-listen tracks you should start with to get the true sound of reggae.

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Why did I choose these songs? Reggae music is a multifaceted genre; the lyrics, sounds, rhythms and beats can vary. These songs capture different aspects of these which will help you to identify reggae music once you hear it.

  1. Bob Marley & The Wailers - "One Love / People Get Ready"

    This reggae anthem, "One Love" epitomises reggae's general message of unity and love. Bob Marley and The Wailers created this timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with listeners worldwide. Till today it is one of the most popular and well known reggae songs. 

  2. Bob Marley & The Wailers - "No Woman, No Cry"

    "No Woman, No Cry" is a heartfelt ballad that speaks to the struggles of everyday life with a message of hope and resilience. What makes this even more beautiful though is that he wrote this song with his wife, Rita Marley, in mind. 

  3. Toots and the Maytals - "Pressure Drop"

    With its upbeat tempo and infectious groove, "Pressure Drop" is a prime example of Toots and the Maytals' energetic and dynamic sound. The song's catchy chorus and soulful delivery will have you rocking to the beat and doing a little two step. 

  4. Jimmy Cliff - "The Harder They Come"

    Featured in the iconic film of the same name, "The Harder They Come" is a gritty and rebellious anthem that captures the spirit of defiance. Jimmy Cliff's raw vocals and powerful lyrics underscore the struggles of the marginalised and disenfranchised.

  5. Peter Tosh - "Legalise It"

    A bold and unapologetic call for legalising marijuana, "Legalise It" is a cornerstone of Peter Tosh's solo career. The song's catchy melody and defiant attitude cement its status as a rallying cry for cannabis legalisation advocates.

  6. Burning Spear - "Marcus Garvey"

    Named after the revered Jamaican political leader, "Marcus Garvey" is a powerful tribute to the legacy of resistance and empowerment. Burning Spear's distinctive vocals and hypnotic rhythms make this track a standout in the reggae canon.

  7. Desmond Dekker - "Israelites"

    "Israelites" is a catchy and infectious ska-infused track that showcases Desmond Dekker's distinctive vocal style. The song's upbeat tempo and catchy refrain make it a favourite among fans of classic reggae.

  8. Gregory Isaacs - "Night Nurse"

    Smooth, soulful, and seductive, "Night Nurse" is a romantic ballad that showcases Gregory Isaacs' velvet-smooth vocals. The song's sensual lyrics and laid-back groove make it a timeless slow jam for lovers everywhere.

  9. Dennis Brown - "Money in My Pocket"

    "Money in My Pocket" is a feel-good anthem that combines Dennis Brown's soulful crooning with a catchy, upbeat rhythm. The song's optimistic message and infectious melody make it a staple of reggae playlists everywhere.

  10. Steel Pulse - "Handsworth Revolution"

    "Handsworth Revolution" is a politically charged anthem that reflects the struggles of the black community in Britain. Steel Pulse's militant lyrics and rock-infused reggae sound create a powerful and thought-provoking listening experience.

  11. Johnny Nash - "I Can See Clearly Now"

    Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" is an uplifting and optimistic reggae-pop song that radiates positivity. With its catchy melody and joyful lyrics, it's impossible not to feel uplifted by this timeless classic.

  12. UB40 - "Red, Red Wine"

    UB40's reggae rendition of "Red, Red Wine" is a laid-back and soulful interpretation of the Neil Diamond classic. The band's smooth vocals and infectious rhythm give the song a distinctively Caribbean vibe, making it a favourite for relaxing and unwinding.

  13. Jimmy Cliff - "Many Rivers to Cross"

    Jimmy Cliff's soul-stirring vocals shine in "Many Rivers to Cross," a poignant ballad that reflects on life's struggles and hardships. With its heartfelt lyrics and emotive delivery, this timeless classic continues to resonate with listeners around the world.

  14. Musical Youth - "Pass the Dutchie"

    "Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth is a catchy and infectious reggae-pop track that became a global sensation upon its release. With its upbeat rhythm and playful lyrics, this feel-good anthem remains a staple of reggae playlists and dance floors everywhere.

These reggae classics are your guide to discovering the depth and diversity of a genre that continues to inspire and uplift us as listeners, no matter how old they get. These songs represent the heart and soul of reggae music.

What was the first Reggae song you heard that made you a lover of the genre? Share it with us!

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References & Sources For What Are Some Must Listen Reggae Songs For Beginners?

  1. 10 of the best reggae songs to learn and play (no date) Sheet Music Direct Blog. Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2024).
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