Jamaican artists’ music travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and influenced UK culture. Artists like Madness, UB40, and The Clash all incorporated elements of reggae and ska into their sound while also using lyrics to address issues related to racism and social inequality.
Lovers rock, a subgenre of reggae music that celebrates romantic passions, first gained widespread recognition through British artists like Maxi Priest. This genre features catchy rhythm sections.
Reggae music was unwittingly planted in Britain when Jamaican artists such as Count Suckle and Duke Vin arrived from their Caribbean roots to the UK in 1954. He brought with him precious boxes of records from his homeland while setting up the first UK Jamaican-style sound system at an abandoned snooker club, thus initiating an era of Jamaican artists who made dancehall standards with lyrics that empowered working-class people to stand up for themselves and demand their rights.
In the 1960s, Jamaican artists like Yellowman and Edward Thornton created music that served as an inspirational call-to-arms. Through songs like Lightning Flash and Crab Inna Barrel they advocated for those living under oppressive regimes. Chris Blackwell of Island Records began supporting and nurturing Jamaican musicians during this era.
Reggae made waves worldwide during the 1970s thanks to films like The Harder They Come and albums by artists like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff which caught punks and hippies’ imagination alike. Joseph Hill and Culture were particularly notable, dominating charts with songs that spoke directly to Rastafarian concerns while their powerful rhythms resonated far beyond reggae’s roots.
Desmond Dekker and The Israelites helped spread reggae music, while Barry Llewelyn Sibbles and His Heptones helped spread it further still. Dekker became popular through songs like Fatty Fatty and his cover of Only Sixteen; on the other hand, Sibbles’ political anthems A Change Is Gonna Come, Three Little Birds and No Woman No Cry resonated deeply within British consciousness, touching many hearts at once.
Tanya Stephens rose to fame during this period with her chart-topping songs such as You Can’t Find Me and Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dutty Yet. Later she formed a successful business partnership with fellow musician and producer Andrew Henton; while Vivienne Tanya Stephenson collaborated with Busy Signal – best known for his dancehall standards – to form her business partnership.
Inner city reggae
Reggae music from Jamaica has had an indelible mark around the globe since its emergence in 1950. Combining African roots with British influence, its lyrics often focus on sociopolitical topics, religion, love, social criticism and tradition. Reggae has grown increasingly popular since then; Maxi Priest and Jacob Miller both achieved US no 1 hits during the 1990s with songs such as Close to you and Ala la la la song respectively. Meanwhile many British artists have released reggae albums with international success as well.
Reggae can be traced back to its immediate precursors: ska and rocksteady, both derivatives of Jamaican R&B that was heavily influenced by American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska was an energetic dance genre featuring prominent use of bass as a percussive instrument while reggae evolved out of this style into more musically sophisticated forms that included melody, harmony and rhythm along with traditional Jamaican folk and calypso music styles.
Inner city reggae music originated in Jamaican inner cities. This genre’s distinctive drumbeat emphasizes the third beat of each bar rather than emphasizing only the first. Additionally, snare drums are typically tuned high to create a timbales-type sound while reggae drummers usually employ cross-stick techniques with tom-tom drums for fuller tones.
Many of Jamaican reggae music’s most influential musicians come from inner-city communities. These musicians often grow dreadlocks to express themselves musically. Furthermore, many are active within both Jamaican communities and beyond in promoting peace, tolerance and unity through activism.
Reggae music has taken root across multiple countries, often drawing inspiration from local instruments and genres to form unique genres. In November 2018, UNESCO added reggae to their Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; since then its popularity has also skyrocketed in America where many black residents hail from Caribbean or African backgrounds; it has also become increasingly prevalent in punk rock bands which incorporate reggae in their music.
Lovers rock is a subgenre of reggae music that was popular among young Black British people and was responsible for popularizing reggae in Britain during the ’70s. Characterized by silky vocals and romantic themes, its tempo is slower than that of rocksteady or ska while drawing influence from Rastafari and soul music as well. Lovers rock gained immense popularity among these audiences and is often credited with helping bring reggae over from Jamaica to Britain.
This genre was heavily influenced by Philadelphia and Chicago sounds, incorporating jazz, R&B, Jamaican folk and reggae elements, making it especially appealing among young British people looking for something calming while simultaneously taking a break from hardcore reggae artists like Prince Buster or Laurel Aitken’s hardcore reggae sound.
Reggae ballads emerged through sound systems that mixed romantic ballads onto reggae beats, often featuring female voices singing slower tempo songs than reggae beats. It served as an antidote against male-dominated roots music in Jamaica that had been heavily influenced by Rastafarianism; most female singers who made an impactful statement overseas such as Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson and Deborahe Glasgow made this breakthrough successful.
Women artists paved the way for men who followed, yet love genre became popular with both genders; for instance, band Tradition achieved number one popularity in the UK with “Men Cry Too.” It can be credited with being at the epicenter of lovers reggae due to an increasing demand for more seductive tunes.
Reggae music found a strong following in Britain after WWII as thousands of migrants from Caribbean nations known as the Windrush Generation arrived there to settle. They brought with them their love for reggae music as it spread to future generations through reggae fusion with soul and jazz that continues to gain momentum today.
Reggae music has quickly become a global sensation, with nearly everyone familiar with names such as UB40, Eddy Grant and Damian Marley as well as Three Dog Night’s “Black and White”. But many still don’t understand its roots or what makes it special.
In the mid-1960s, ska gave way to rocksteady music – a slower style with romantic lyrics and less prominent horns – which then inspired British punk music, taking its name from Jamaica’s phrase “Rocky Road”. Reggae artists such as Smiley Culture and Carroll Thompson used rocksteady to explore inner city themes related to race and class in Britain while Steel Pulse and Aswad expressed the Black British experience through their songs which heavily utilized Jamaican patois and Cockney slang as well as political messages about discrimination and social injustice.
Combining two seemingly disparate musical styles proved powerful; when punk’s raw energy met reggae’s spirituality and upbeat melodies, an irreconcilable mix emerged: 2 Tone punk was born! From 1977-1979 the 2 Tone movement (particularly The Stranglers’ version of Junior Marvin’s Police and Thieves by Junior Marvin, The Slits’ Taking A Chance and Ruts’ Jah War) set the scene for this new punk-reggae hybrid.
Reggae music draws upon African folk traditions for inspiration while also drawing influence from R&B and jazz genres. Reggae incorporates elements from celebratory rural folk forms with secular audiences (such as Mento), calypso and traditional Jamaican church chanteys as well as offbeat rhythmic structures which feature call-and-response vocal styles with emphasis on bass drum.
Reggae is an engaging form of music with strong social consciousness that explores issues like racism, poverty, corruption and gang violence through its lyrics and its musical style. Jamaican reggae artists often provide social commentary through dance performances, films and literature as a form of artistic expression.
Reggae saw its greatest surge of popularity in England during the late 1970s due to massive postwar immigration from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations, especially Jamaica itself. Many British bands were inspired by its sound, adopting reggae into their music in ways unlike Jamaican bands which focused more on utopian future Rastafarian ideals than on social justice issues within present societies.