IS A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE REGGAE HISTORY AND SOME MOODY PICS
note that the title of each pic and the photographer's name is set as
Ska erupted, it was only another offspring of the tropical music scene.
In the ways of James Brown sounds it was a reflecting the enthusiasm,
energy and hopes of the newly independent Jamaica (1962).
The fabulous Ska stays a strange mix of R&B and Jazz, an out of space
boogie-woogie that never really made it in England.
Millie, Prince Buster and Skatalites have not really impacted the beatles
The Rocksteady took over in the mid sixties, but then again only Desmond
Dekker could reach European audience with 007 (Shanty Town).
The Rocksteady was the Soul for Caribbean musics and was appreciated only
by a few european aficionados.
But using electric bass, burning vocalists such as Alton Ellis or the
Paragons and taking influence from James Brown, new rhythms were preparing
the path for Reggae.
Bass suddenly was on the foreground, a caracteristic signature of Jamaican
music that can be found in the kalimbas, kind of traditional xilophones
made of pieces of metal fixed on a box.
For the Rocksteady, the major beat is the third, a touch that neighbour
Americans will never understand nor play properly.
The Rocksteady ala Studio One is slow, round, quiet. Very different from
the already aging happy ska.
Then when the reggae was born in the end of the sixties the tempo went
back up again.
The unprecedented explosion of creativity in Jamaica after that time is
Of course the whole population still sings Gospel on Sunday, and in this
poor country, all the music that one can hear on the dancefloors and the
sound systems stays the main form of culture.
Singers, DJs and producers are leaders and teachers.
Like in Brasil and Africa (of which reggae takes most of its inspiration),
the whole country is vibrating with music 24hours.
Nevertheless, this passion for sound and beat don't explain it all.
More is to come. The frantic side of the first reggae tunes disappears
and in the beginning of the 70s, the One Drop style (that is commonly
called Roots Reggae) starts to settle.
This irresistible style with its fundamental simplicity, originality and
essensiality, goes back to the African roots.
Albums are always more creative and hundreds of fantastic artists take
on the stage: Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Lee
Perry, Dennis Brown, Toots & the Maytals...
In 1969, King Tubby,
a genius sound engineer, has the idea of remixing songs. It is a flaming
success and many follow.
Tubby had the guts to remix pieces without the vocals. He drops modified
slices of them here and there. The bass and the drums are the back bone
of the mixes.
experimenting echo and reverbs, rough cuts... Tubby with his basic equipment
invents the Dub.is
a flaming success and many follow the new wave in Jamaica.
It is only later that the rest of the world gets ready to follow King
Tubby's techniques and in the mid-eighties apprear the House, then
Trip hop, Jungle, drum & bass...
Since the 50's Jamaican djs, British bred but American influenced, hold
the mic and warm up between songs, fire during, trying to avoit to step
over the original vocals.
Singing, rapping or bursting sounds, they perform on any kind or the island's
music: Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and of course ska and rock steady.
Then one day, King Tubby
gives a Dub
tape to the DJ of his tiny sound system. Very few vocals, wicked beats,
massive bass, the DJ has every thing he was dreaming of to let his skills
flow. His name was U Roy.
The audience recognises the music because Tubby chooses only major hits,
the DJ fires them up. U Roy creates new versions. U Roy has huge success.
His style half sung - half spoken is copied by all the DJs in town, and
King Tubby's remixes
are worth gold.
When U Roy is finally recorded, he takes all the top spots of the charts.
Rap was then born in 1970.
King Tubby's work
is the latest craze. On many of the 7" the remix is printed on the
B side. The idea is followed by every producer. Lee
"Scratch" Perry will push the limits of sound and mind experiments.
Other names such as I Roy, Dennis Alcapone, Big Youth will achieve success.
At that point a mysterious vibe shakes the big book of history: Rastafari.
British colony, Jamaica has been the back bone of the slave trade and
shows the scars. Now independant it is taken in the iron grasp of American
economic rule. Nevertheless, the colonial British ways are still anchored
in the minds.
But young Jamaicans want to resemble Americans now and want to forget
their past African past, heavy with humiliation.
Since the start of
the 20's, a Jamaican is fighting for equality of rights in the United
States. The black community is starting to undertand the fact that Africa
is the motherland of mankind and that pride more than shame should inspire
their tone of skin.
is the first of the few great Afro-American leaders. (amaising how the
real ones died early... hip hop bwoys gonna live older that that soon
He proposes to read the bible again. African history has been sensored
and modified. Not a thing to say in a colony in 1930.
But it is a fact. According to Ethiopian litugy, Abyssinia is fist official
nation of Judaism, ruled by the first Jewish king, Salomon. If Judaisme
comes from africa, then the first jewish were black, so were then the
King of Kings, direct ancestor to Haile
Selassie the First, King of the Kings of Ethiopia and great statesman
of the 20th century.
He is God for the Rastas
since he is a descendent of King Salomon, and the world has to know this
reality. Men of african roots must take pride in it. They mus reject the
capitalist society, racist, colonialist and consuming, and stand up through
U Roy is the first Rastas to have a great success on the island. Rastas
take the stage. They have the star of David as symbol, and the colours
of the Imperial Ethiopia for flag, green yellow and read with the lion
of Juda in the Center. The young rebels rush in the studios Reggae spreads
This music becomes the one of revolt, of the angry who dare question
the core of the organisation of society: the Christianisme overpowering
America. Serious deal, their rejection is even more violent.
In 1972 the movie "The Harder They Come" shows the world the
harsh reality of Kingston's Gettos. And soon will errupt the only true
forever-superstar from a poor country: the great Bob
Bob Malry: no other man has ever been such an absolute music star while
being the natural speaker of oppressed people, universal symbol of freedom,
not forgetting the dimension of prophet for a recognised Judeo-Christian
Peter Tosh who was performing with Marley among the Wailers
since 1961 quit Marley in 73 to follow his own path into an international
With the support of HaileSelassie,
men question the established order and slowly dig up their own past with
their identity and spirituality. For many, return to natural state is
Meanwhile, independent producers such as Lee "Scratch" Perry,
King Jammy ... start a studio war of ingenuity. Kingston
becomes a music laboratory. Gregory Isaacs, Gladiators
appear. In England the young Jamaican generation also takes the mic on
Reggae: Steel Pulse, UB 40 Aswad, LKJ make Reggae truly consistent on
the international pop scene.
Since the disparition of Bob
Marley the 11th of May 1981, Reggae has spread worldwide. Symbol of
freedom and equality, it spreads through the world like the arrow of the
just. (then follow Africa with Alfa
Dube, Majek Fashek... more recently Ticken Jah Fakoly... The wave
will finally hit Japan that is today at the avant-garde of Reggae with
names such as Minmi, Ryo da Skywalker, Pushim, Jumbo Maach...).
The Jamaican innovations have marked the world. Even the mighty Rock is
shaken and during the 80's when ska infiltrates most of the popular bands
and artists: Police, The Clash (with
Mickey Dread), Boy Georges, Gainsbourg...
Since the 70's, the Jamaican community in Brooklyn has spread the vibes
that assisted the rise of Hip Hop in New York While in Kingston digital
sounds appeared during the 80s'. With the mystic and rebel dimension of
Rastas, the Dub and the Rapping of DJs, the volume of the base and cuttin
of the Drums, Reggae has definetely set the base of today's music.
And it did not stop there. After having reset the grounds of music Jamaica
has gone forward and reggae moved on to become Dancehall, Ragga riddims,
and whether you like it or not, it is still called Reggae in Jamaica.
In opposition to Roots Reggae, new Dancehall MCs such as Antony B, Sean
Sizzla, Elephant Man,
Ninjaman, Beenie Man... have made the top of the charts and one again
the world has felt the vibe. These artists are frequently called to feature
on big names of Hip Hop, and their riddims have moved on to become Drum
REGGAE! REGGAE! REGGAE!
Reggae is the heartbeat of Jamaica - a brand of reggae music as strongly identified with the island as R&B is with Detroit or jazz with new reggae Orleans. It's a major factor in the Jamaican economy, at no time better demonstrated than during Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest (enormous annual reggae festivals), when almost one-quarter million visitors arrive from overseas to dance and sway in delirious union to the soulful, syncopated beat on the tiny island.
Reggae evolved in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica, born of the tensions and social protest simmering violently in the late 1960's. Jamaicans will tell you that reggae means "coming from de people," a phrase coined (as was the name reggae itself) by Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals.
Reggae is associated above all with one man: Robert Nesta Marley. Bob Marley had established himself as an early leading influence, with his creative style and unique stage presence. The type of reggae he performed is called Roots Reggae. He adopted Rastafarianism, injecting his reggae music with greater soul and more poignant lyrics that helped spark a worldwide "Third World consciousness." Bob Marley became an international superstar and is considered a prophet by the followers of the Rastafarian religion.
Though Marley died in 1981, Reggae has gone from strength to strength. International stars such as Eric Clapton and Paul Simon even began to incorporate Reggae tunes into their smash hit reggae albums. Bob Marley has sold more reggae albums posthumously than any other reggae recording reggae artist. On his birthday, February 6, 2001 Marley was awarded a star on the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame. He receives numerous awards for his contributions to reggae music each year.
Types of Reggae
Not all reggae stars are Jamaican. Reggae has a huge following in Scandinavia, Germany, England and Japan and indeed in most countries throughout the world where homegrown performers are bursting onto the scene. Nor do all reggae reggae artists embrace social commentary in their reggae music. Other types of West Indian reggae music that actually preceded Reggae but can be found at most reggae festivals and are all grouped under the term "Reggae" to the masses:
Lovers Rock Melodic, romanticized reggae. Maxi Priest is one of the most popular to sing this type of reggae.
Dub Purely instrumental reggae. Jamaican reggae DJ's invented their own lyrics to dub over the reggae music, initially in a verse form that has since evolved into...
reggae dancehall Reggae similar to rap reggae music.
Ska this frenetic forerunner of reggae accentuated by a strong horn section has made a comeback and is popular among young adults in USA and UK.
Rock Steady ska slowed down to half speed and became more syncopated. The dance style was more languid with minimal movements.
Soca from Trinidad, this fast-paced dance reggae music has a pedigree going back two decades and gained prominence in Jamaica only recently at Carnival time. It is now the reggae music of choice at upscale discos in 'uptown Kingston' (reggae dancehall is the reggae music of 'downtown').
Calypso fast-paced reggae music from Trinidad featuring steel drums.
World Beat West African Highlife reggae music
Reggae may have put Jamaica on the reggae musical map, but the nation's reggae musical heritage runs much deeper. It is also constantly evolving, setting the tone and pace for the world to follow. Kingston has become the 'Nashville of the Third World' and reggae recording studios pump out dozens of new reggae titles each month. Reggae has influenced so many of today's marketing efforts with reggae jingles with its distinctive beat being heard on the radio and television around the world selling everything from laundry soap to soft drink. It is 'feel-good' reggae music and marketers capitalize on that.
Rastafarians & Dreadlocks
The Rastafarians with their uncut, uncombed hair grown into long sun-bleached tangles known as dreadlocks or dreads are synonymous with the island in the sun. Rastas wear their hair in dreadlocks because of their intrepretation of a passage in the Bible. There are perhaps 100,000 "Rastas" in Jamaica (and millions worldwide). They adhere to an unorganized religion - a faith, not a church. Their influence has far outweighed their small number as youth around the globe admire their easy-going lifestyle and philosophy of One World family. Rastafarianism is a type of Christianity and they study the Bible.
Rastafarians have adapted traditional Christian tenets to fit their philosophical mold. The basic belief is that His Imperial Majesty, The Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, was the second coming of Jesus Christ. They site passages in the Bible that confirm this. It advocates a peaceful fight against oppression against Babylon (the establishment). They are vegetarians that eat fish, strict teetotalers, they shun tobacco, coffee, sugar, and processed food. Those who copy Rastafarian lifestyle but bring ill repute are called 'wolves'.
Dreadlocks have become en vogue and can be seen on models in reggae magazines and actors and ac tresses on television and in the movies.
Patois: Language of Reggae
In Jamaica, officially English is the spoken language. In reality, Jamaica is a bilingual country as everyone speaks patois (pa-twah), a reggae musical dialect with a unique rhythm and cadence. Patois evolved from the Creole English and a twisted alchemy of the mother tongue peppered with African, Portuguese, and Spanish terms and Rastafarian slang. Most Jamaicans will vary the degree and intensity of their Patois according to whom they're speaking with.
reggae Bob Marley 1
reggae Bob Marley 2
reggae Bob Marley 3
reggae Bob Marley 4
reggae studio 1
reggae jimmy cliff
lee scratch perry reggae great
bob marley family reggae archive
reggae bob marley 5
bob marley shrine reggae monument
peter tosh reggae great
peter tosh reggae great 2
reggae sound system
kingston street portrait
sly and robbie reggae