5 Facts About Reggae Music

5 facts about reggae music

Reggae music‘s distinguishing traits lie less with vocal melody and more with rhythm and instruments such as drums and bass which form what is known as a riddim, or beat.

Reggae music‘s classic beat has three solid beats per bar and typically includes an open hi-hat on beat one; this drum beat is known as the “one drop”.

1. Bob Marley

Bob Marley was one of the most beloved musicians of the 20th Century and one of the driving forces behind its worldwide popularity. His music inspired action through its powerful message of unity and love that has resonated with people over decades – his songs still hold relevance today!

As one of Jamaica’s true icons, Marley personified Rastafari. This movement originated with Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey’s teachings about Africa free from colonialism – something Marley helped promote through music and became a symbol for resistance against. Marley became so committed to this cause that it led him into politics – ultimately leading up to an assassination attempt on him by his manager which unfortunately ended tragically; although Marley survived.

Marley was well known for using his music to raise awareness of blacks suffering in global society at that time and was an influence to many artists that followed in his footsteps.

Marley’s fame and activism earned him the role of protagonist in the 1973 movie The Harder They Come and his 1984 greatest hits album Legend, both still highly regarded today. His music continues to inspire people all around the globe while his legacy lives on through his family as well as musicians inspired by him and his message of unity.

2. Toots and the Maytals

Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert, better known as Toots and the Maytals, was one of Jamaica’s most influential artists of reggae’s golden era. Credited with coining the term reggae and contributing to many styles like ska, rocksteady roots and dancehall music, Toots helped establish many different forms of reggae music from ska to rocksteady to roots to dancehall. His band originally comprised three vocalists (Toots himself being one), drawing heavily from R&B/soul music from America.

“Pressure Drop” cemented Toots and the Maytals’ place on the map with its signature drumbeat and infectious melody. Inspired by an experience Toots had with his record company, which inspired him to write this clever protest song – yet its smooth island vibe makes it irresistibly reggae music-esque with warm harmonies and an incessant rhythm section backing it.

Toots was orphaned at an early age and raised in Kingston’s Trenchtown ghetto; his challenging life left a profound imprint upon his singing style, often drawing comparisons between it and Otis Redding’s. With his strong, powerful voice – making Toots one of Jamaica’s most exciting musicians at that time.

Toots and the Maytals stood apart from many of their contemporaries by not being preoccupied with politics or social commentary, yet were passionate about their craft. Toots was an innovative singer adept at performing across various musical genres and his songs have been covered by artists around the globe. He released Toots in Memphis album in 1988 in which he revisited R&B/soul hits that inspired his signature reggae sound as well as performing at Reggae Sunsplash festival that year and touring globally thereafter.

3. Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff was one of the key forces behind bringing reggae music to an international audience, best-known for songs of social justice such as “Sitting in Limbo,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and the title track from The Harder They Come movie that helped popularize reggae around the globe. Additionally, he became one of the first Jamaican musicians to embrace Rastafarianism which later lead him into becoming an anti-racist activist.

Cliff was born James Chambers and began recording professionally during the early ’60s, soon topping Jamaican charts with “Hurricane Hattie.” Signed to Leslie Kong’s Beverly Records label and featuring several hits that mixed ska and pop elements; Chris Blackwell of Island Records brought him to London where his musical style evolved even further by including more soul and rhythm and blues elements into his songs.

As a vocalist, Cliff frequently performed songs in Jamaican Patois or English. Other times, his singing served more as an harmonier in other styles, rather than taking up lead duties like other lead singers might do. Cliff is considered one of the pioneers of dub music – an instrumental genre which takes the drum-and-bass line from ska or rocksteady songs and adds layers of harmony and instrumentation overtop of that rhythmic foundation.

Reggae music now incorporates an increasingly heavier sound, known as dub. This style is most prevalent in dancehall, which utilizes drum and bass instruments to produce an irresistibly rhythmic groove that encourages dancing. Other types of reggae such as rocksteady, ska and reggae fusion also utilize similar techniques.

4. Carlene Davis

While many musical genres can be described by vague descriptions such as a driving beat or an acoustic sound, reggae stands out with its clear definition and distinctive traits. For instance, its tempo is significantly slower than both ska and rocksteady, its guitar/piano offbeats are stronger, and an emphasis on what is known as the skank rhythm is most evident – these features distinguish this style of music from others, although other genres have adopted some elements into them.

Reggae music can be deeply seductive and filled with carnal desire, such as in the song Champion Lover by UB40 which tells the tale of a woman’s desire for her lover and how she wants to savor every moment with him. Reggae songs feature smooth and seductive vocals along with lyrics which celebrate and critique both things which are good, while criticizing political systems which oppress marginalized groups; often including Jamaican dialects of English such as patois combining Creole and West African languages influences in these lyrics which use Jamaican dialects of English along with creole/West African influences in its composition.

Davis was an accomplished gospel reggae singer whose spiritual beliefs informed her musical choices. Performing often in churches, she dedicated her career to gospel music after surviving cancer.

While many reggae artists were drawn from lower-class backgrounds, Davis’s middle-class background enabled her to reach a wider audience. Not only was she musically talented; Davis was also a trendsetter on the dancehall scene, showcasing her skimpy stylish fashion and dancing techniques at fetes and teen jams. Davis became involved with cancer charity work during this period with proceeds from her songs being used to fund research through charity concerts such as Vessel; it ultimately led her to win Jamaican Female Vocalist of the Year awards!

5. Bob Marley

Marley’s music remains at the core of reggae culture. Widely considered one of the greatest musicians ever, his spiritual and political messages remain relevant today and many artists continue to find inspiration from him.

Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was born in 1945 in Nine Mile, St Ann Parish, Jamaica to an English father and Jamaican mother. His childhood was marred by poverty due to living in Trenchtown slum; later on he embraced Rastafarian teachings as his religion of choice.

By the early 1960s, Marley had co-founded The Wailers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston. Together they adapted the jazzy-influenced shuffle beats of rocksteady to reggae’s more stripped down rhythmic and melodic style; Eric Clapton even performed their hit version of “I Shot the Sheriff”. Eric Clapton had become particularly fond of them after hearing Eric’s version in 1974.

As their popularity increased, Marley began incorporating religious themes into his songs. His spiritual beliefs informed all aspects of his life and music.

Marley stressed the importance of family and community, and was an outspoken champion for black rights, opposing racism. He strongly condemned political systems that oppress marginalized populations such as apartheid. Marley created a sense of shared identity among his Jamaican diaspora as well as continental Africans through his song Africa Unite which became a rallying cry against colonialism and liberation during independence movements in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. Marley passed away in 1981 but his legacy continues through Toots Hibbert (also known as Toots and the Maytals), Damian Marley who still releases music that blends reggae, R&B pop and hip-hop elements into his songs today.