Rhythm and Blues
Reggae is a musical genre that originated among poor blacks from Kingston,
Jamaica in the 1960s, coined to describe a “ragged” form of dance music that
emphasizes the syncopated beat. It is considered as the predecessor to rap and
hip-hop. When one thinks of reggae artists, the first name that comes to mind is,
of course, Bob Marley, who helped introduce reggae to a worldwide audience. His
ska/ rocksteady/ reggae band, The Wailers – and then later on, [Bob
Marley and The Wailers] – is considered one of the most influential reggae
artists of all-time, along with Toots, The Maytals, Prince Buster, [Desmond
Dekker], Jackie Mittoo, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.
What is Reggae Music?With influences from traditional African and Caribbean music as well as from
American R&B, reggae music is unique in that it is always played in 4/4 time
for a symmetrical rhythm pattern, and that it reverses the role of the bass and
the guitar. You will often hear that the bass sound in reggae is thick and heavy,
while the guitar is used to play simple and repetitive chord structures, with
emphasis on the second and fourth beats. Most reggae records and reggae CDs are
also typified by a lament-like style of chanting, heavy, African-style drumbeats
that emphasize the third beat, and the subdued, almost muted presence of the lead
guitar – such that these add to the hypnotic effect unique to reggae music.
Lyrical themes of music from this genre, meanwhile, often express and contain
references to the beliefs and traditions of Rastafarianism, a religion that is
common among Jamaicans of African descent. This is evident in “Bongo Man” by
Little Roy as well as in Bob Marley records, and is being developed until
now by 21st century reggae bands and reggae artists such as Capleton, Sizzla,
Barrington Levy, and Natural Black. Lyrics also tackle other subjects, such
as love, peace, poverty, and other social injustices that may have been prevalent
or continue to prevail in Jamaica.
Reggae Music InfluencesWhile Bob Marley is easily the most popular of the reggae artists, that doesn’t
mean that he single-handedly defined the genre. Reggae artists and reggae bands
like The Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, and Prince Buster were just as
instrumental in spreading the popularity of reggae music not just in Jamaica, but
also in the United States and throughout the world. Pop artists such as [Neil
Diamond] and Johnny Nash also incorporated the musical characteristics of
reggae into some of their songs – such as “Red Red Wine” and “Hold Me Tight”,
respectively – thus generating the greater presence of reggae music in the
popular hit charts.
The Influence of Reggae Music TodayBecause of the persevering popularity of Bob Marley CDs and ["Bob Marley"
records], by the artist who is now considered somewhat of an ambassador for the
genre, reggae has influenced contemporary acts and artists to follow suit. Among
these include Shaggy, Inner Circle, Sean Paul, Sly and Robbie, [Beenie
Man], and Bob Marley’s three sons, Ziggy Marley, Damian Marley, and [Stephen
Marley]. Newer styles and reggae-related genres have also surfaced, such as the
dancehall genre (with Yellowman, Super Cat, and Shabba Ranks as among the
more well-known proponents) and reggaeton dance music.
Reggae Record LabelsPopular labels that are associated with reggae music are VP Music Group, Inc.
(with acts like Morgan Heritage, Elephant Man, Sanchez, and Vybz Kartel)
and Greensleeves Records Ltd. (with Sizzla and Mr. Vegas as its most-
listened-to reggae artists), among others.
Reggae CDs and Reggae RecordsBob Marley CDs, Shaggy CDs, Desmond Dekker CDs, Toots CDs, ["Sean
Paul" CDs], Jimmy Cliff CDs, and Morgan Heritage CDs, along with a
comprehensive list of reggae CDs by reggae artists from the 1960s to today, are
all available only here at MusicStack. Reggae music records and vinyl LPs
are also available.
Popular Reggae Artists