Jamaica’s Reggae Music

Jamaica is an island known for its reggae music as well as its beauty. Jamaica is filled with brilliant color and flavor. This is truly evident in the diversity of its people, beaches, food, and it’s music.

Jamaica’s music has moved through many different variations. We have heard and seen performances of rhythms such as Dub, Ska, Congo, and Dancehall. All of these rhythms are known across the world as reggae. This music is a combination of African, American, Blues, and Jamaican folk rhythms. Though this style of music is original only to Jamaica, it is known and loved globally. This music had its origin with ska in the late 1950’s right about the time Jamaica got it’s independence from England.

It all started with the sound systems, and the massive open-air discos that established themselves on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. It was in the 1970’s that the late Bob Marley took this art and made it an international craze with roots reggae, which was a heavy, spiritual and conscious sound. In 2002 Bob Marley’s album Exodus won album of the century. This proud, bold island had now made its mark on the world first because of its music.

In the 1990’s dancehall and reggae evolved, accompanied by the opinion that it contained more offensive lyrics that would encourage street violence and dismay. However, recently I have seen and heard a recent development going back to more socially and spiritually aware lyrics known by some to be the New Roots Movement. I find that this is a good turn for music in Jamaica and the rest of the world. One of the leading producers in Jamaica, Boby Digital, said:

“If you feed people with violence they’re going to be vile. If you fill them with love, they’re going to be lovely.”

Today you can see the great performances as the artists are showcased at events such as the Caribbean Music Expo, and Jamaica Sumfest. New Reggae artists such as Shaggy, Sean Paul, and Abijah have brought reggae even further internationally. These events usually take place on the north coast (i.e. Ocho Rios, Runaway Bay, Montego Bay, Discovery Bay) of Jamaica, and sometimes the south coast such as Negril, Jamaica.

It is highly recommended that those who are truly interested in Jamaica’s culture and music attend one of these shows. Some of these stage shows can be days long, so if you can’t be there for the entire show, you can catch at least one day of it.