Musicians Guide to Reggae Music
Jamaican Reggae is a product of both R&B and Ska. As was the case with Ska, some have said that Jamaican music was the direct result of bad radio reception. Even though there is no evidence to support this, some have said that Jamaicans would attempt to imitate the R&B and Rock and Roll music on their radios, and their attempts ended up with a distinct beat all unto itself. This was the birth of the Ska genre, which eventually led to Reggae.
Reggae is a mix of upbeat rhythm and African Caribbean music. The first type of reggae, or roots reggae, was used as songs of praise. Some of the songs are about Rastafarian doctrine, a popular religion in Jamaica. Part of this doctrine is the belief of Babylon as a symbol of oppression. There are several reggae songs that are critical of America, which some see as the New Babylon.
One of the most famous Rastafarian performers, Bob Marley, is considered a legend. He was also a huge proponent of marijuana usage, and would even smoke onstage despite the consequences. One of his albums even has him unashamedly smoking a large marijuana joint. Peter Tosh, another reggae singer who died in 1987, was also a huge supporter of marijuana with his song “Legalize It”. Other controversies have recently occurred with a branch of reggae called Dancehall, which some have claimed have homophobic lyrics.
In 1982, a group of children re-did a song by The Mighty Diamonds called “Pass The Kouchie”, the group changed the word Kouchie, a term for marijuana to “Dutchie” a word for a cooking pot. The Musical Youth song swept the country and was a great hit, as well as a crossover to pop. Yet, despite the popularity and legend of Marley, very little reggae has had pop hit status.