What Is Reggae? 
Yeah, what exactly is it?

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What Is Reggae || by Kesha Stewart

what is reggae

I think it was in 1984 Ini Kamozie made a declaration to the world that reggae music was on yah – here/now playing...

World a reggae music on yah-eh

Keep me skanking with me daughter-eh-a

World a reggae music on yah-eh

Lord, I thirsty, gimme water-eh-a


World a reggae music on yah-eh

Keep me rocking with me daughter-eh-a

World a reggae music on yah-eh..(Jah Lyrics.com)

Indeed reggae music is really on yah. Our authentic Jamaican sound has enthralled music lovers here at home and even in lands that are polar opposites of Jamaica - literally and figuratively. You can’t disagree huh?

Don’t forget that even former President of the USA Obama had to do a quick (unscheduled) detour to look at the bob Marley museum when he visited Jamaica in 2016. And here you are now researching information about reggae. 

Well here is a little to whet your appetite. 

Reggae by Definition

So exactly what is reggae? The well respected source, Merriam Webster defines reggae this way “popular music of Jamaican origin that combines native styles with elements of rock and soul music and is performed at moderate tempos with the accent on the offbeat”.

Reggae - The Creation

The Palms on tripadvisor.com submits  that, “reggae” comes from the term “rege-rege” which means “rags” or “ragged clothes.”, This speaks to the fact that regga as a gengre represents an eclectic mix of other music forms such as ska, which preceded it.

Secondly it speaks to the shanty towns from which this sound was born. It became popular in the 1960’s.

Reggae in Rhythm 

If you are a music player and you want to play reggae music you got to pay close attention to the rhythm. It is heavy on the back beat according to thoughtco.com. That is to say the beat is emphasized for instance on “beats 2 and 4 when in 4/4.

Reggae drummers also emphasize the third beat when in 4/4 time with a kick to the bass drum.” Read more here

Reggae In Motion

The best way to show your appreciation for reggae music is to have your skank ready!

It’s a basic two step dance that is done in time to the music.
Watch YouTube.com and see/try it. Then you can share your video with us on the you tube channel. 

Reggae Themes

Outside of its distinctive sound, reggae music is thematic. The lyrics are echoes of the sociopolitical, cultural and social climate yet at other times its romantic (lovers’ rock) and spiritual (heavily Rastafarian).

Popular Proponents Of Reggae Music

Regga has had some influential proponents and I am sure you could win a prize on final jeopardy if I said, “Is considered the most influential figure in reggae music?” 

You would wager all your money and respond by saying, “Who is Bob Marley?” Right?

But outside of Bob, we have his band The wailers, The I Three, Jimmy Cliff, Marcia Griffiths, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Beres Hammond (one of my favourites), the late Dennis Brown and more recently, Chronixx, Morgan Heritage, Protégée, Romain Virgo and the list goes on.

Even foreigners like UB40 have turn to reggae and received amazing results.

Did You Know That Reggae has…?

  1. featured as soundtracks in shows and movies, such as Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys” which features in the show Cops and the movies Bad Boys 1 &2?
  2. a category at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, The Grammy Award and that this award was first received by Black Uhuru in 1985?
  3. exclusive radio stations as far away as Japan? Check out jajainternational.com.
  4. been performed to sold out audiences on most of the continents, including Europe, Africa, North America, Australia and Asia 
  5. been recorded by males and female of various nationalities – check out MAGIC!’s “Rude.”
  6. a billboard charting? See billboard.com
  7. been celebrated in festivals all over the world?
    Check out festicket.com. you will see festivals like MUSA CASCAIS  which was celebrated from June 29 – July, 2017 at Carcavelos, Portugal or the Seasplash festival in Pula, Croatia held from 20-23 July.

    And don’t forget Reggae Sumfest held annually in the summer (usually July), right here in Jamaica.
  8. worldwide respect? Annually July 1 is recognized as International Reggae Day across the world.
  9. the song of the 20th century? Yes it is  Bob Marley’s “One Love”
  10. featured in the Super Bowl 2013 ad from Volkswagen titled “Get Happy”, starring Jimmy Cliff.

Yes world, a reggae music on yah, Eh!

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