Music Legends of the Caribbean: Reggae

by raremusicvideo1

It can be quite difficult, if not impossible, to decide whether you should consider the beaches, the sun or the great music as the biggest asset of the Caribbean.  As for myself, I would definitely go with the music, which is why I have decided to dedicate a whole series of posts to the musical culture of the Caribbean.

Today, the first on my list of music legends of the Caribbean:  reggae (which I assume comes as no surprise). Originating in Jamaica as part of the African culture, reggae has evolved into one of the most popular and influential musical genres of the 20th century. Reggae is now very popular across the world, and people from Japan to Alaska listen to the songs of reggae legends like Bob Marley. However, not many people know that reggae starred out as poetry:

How it all began

by joakim westerlund

It’s hard to state exactly how reggae was born. What it’s certain is that sometime in the 50s, in the poor suburbs of Kingston, Jamaica, new musical styles have started to emerge. Ska and rocksteady where tow of the genres that became popular during that time, with their syncopated beats and lyrics about social issues and life in the getto. Rocksteady is now seen as the official precursor of reggae music, but a clear influence of the American R&B is also acknowledged.

Rastafarians and Reggae

What it is really curious about reggae is that it happened to be contemporary with an African revival movement called Rastafarianism. The Rastafari in Jamaica were advocating the return to the African tradition and would also envisioning a mass migration to Africa. The theory was quite popular at the time so many of these ideas fusioned with rock-steady and reggae. But reggae was not only influenced by the ideology in Rastafarianism, but also by the tradition of the African music (it is sometimes referred to as ‘roots reggae’).

Bob Marley

by mdemon

The Jamaican artist Bob Marley is universally recognized as the most famous and influential reggae musician. Initially, Bob Marley was part of a band called the Wailers, but he soon became a living legend. Hits like ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ , ‘No Woman No Cry’ or ‘Buffalo Solider’ became famous not only in Jamaica but also in the United States and from there all over the world. Despite his early death, Bob Marley has managed to pass on a priceless legacy. Today, reggae has evolved into various other styles like lovers rock, dub, dancehall and reggaeton.


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