Reggae Music Names

Toots and the Maytals’ song, “Do the Reggay”, first introduced reggae as an artistic genre to an international audience in 1968. Rocksteady music evolved out of this type of rhythm which reduced ska tempo while adding syncopations, as evidenced by Toots and Maytals’ title of that track “Do the Reggay”.

Peter Tosh was one of the most beloved reggae musicians of the 70s, singing harmony alongside lively Bob Marley and calmer Bunny Wailer. His hit single Uptown Top Ranking proved immensely popular while many of his other tracks conveyed deeper themes.


Reggae first emerged during Jamaica’s independence from British control, during the late 1960s. The genre evolved out of earlier Jamaican dance music styles like mento, ska and rocksteady as well as African musical traditions and American rhythm and blues music. Reggae musicians utilize propulsive percussion and hypnotic bass lines that resonated with audiences worldwide.

Ska music greatly influenced reggae artists like Prince Buster and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, who fused Caribbean rhythms with African musical traditions and American influences into new forms of Jamaican dance music known as reggae. Ska music gained widespread attention in the early 1970s after Desmond Dekker and The Aces released “Satta Massagana,” an album with songs encouraging listeners to sit down and worship Jah – often associated with King Solomon and Sheba as her descendent; its success also helped spread Rastafarianism which advocates peace and social justice among Jamaican religions worldwide.

Rocksteady music followed ska music’s rise and featured romantic lyrics and lesser prominent horns; its name may derive from its combination of “rock” with “steady,” which stands for standing still. Reggae bands such as the Wailers and Black Uhuru found success using this style, especially with albums like “Catch a Fire.”

Reggae was an integral component of UK punk music by the late 1970s, with bands like the Clash, Ruts and Members all including reggae elements into their songs. Reggae also became increasingly popular among young white audiences.

Reggae music’s lyrics often address social and political themes that resonate strongly with Jamaican nationalism, such as poverty, racism and social inequality. Reggae singers frequently address topics like these while often singing songs with strong political overtones that feature Bob Marley who made waves as one of its leading figures with The Wailers by emphasizing black pride while criticizing political systems often called Babylon – even while supporting Rastafarianism which promotes an ancient African lifestyle including vegetarianism. Marley died in 1981 while leading his band The Wailers continued playing reggae hits for decades after his passing – as did Bob Marley himself with The Wailers). He and The Wailers made waves across Africa when it came to Africa where music and black pride was at play – with Marley being an avid Rastafarian supporter as well.


Reggae music from Jamaica has had an enormous influence worldwide. Reggae stands as one of its signature styles and has given rise to subgenres such as ska, rocksteady and dub. Reggae boasts a rich tradition of social commentary as well as religious topics but can also explore lighter topics like love and romance. Reggae style also utilizes complex basslines with its rhythm that emphasizes off beat.

Ska, first made popular during the 1950s, can be considered the precursor of both reggae and rocksteady music styles. Ska is composed of elements drawn from Carribean mento, Calypso, American jazz and rhythm and blues styles as well as Caribbean mento and Calypso music styles, American jazz/Rhythm and Blues forms such as R&B. Ska is distinguished by a walking bass line accented with off-beat rhythms.

Rocksteady music evolved from ska in the late 1960s. This slower style features polished arrangements with vocal harmony that adds traditional flavor. Furthermore, vocalists typically perform using Jamaican patois instead of English-sounding accents as in ska.

Reggae first gained global renown during the 1970s due to artists such as Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert and the Maytals, who used this genre of music to spread Rastafari, an Afrocentric religion that promotes pan Africanism. These musicians used Rastafari music as a vehicle to convey spiritual and political messages relating to poverty, social issues, resistance against government oppression and repatriation of African cultures back into Africa.

Reggae is an expansive genre, but can typically be divided into four major subgenres: roots reggae, lovers rock, dancehall reggae and rocksteady. Roots reggae addresses daily struggles of life in urban ghettos while often carrying messages about resistance against racism and injustice; in contrast, dancehall reggae typically features more partying and dancing elements.


Reggae music may bring to mind images of dreadlocked warblers playing syncopated guitar beats; but, this genre goes much deeper. Reggae represents Jamaican cultural legacy and serves as an expression of their spirit; embodying peace and unity for its people while drawing influences from various musical periods and styles in creating its signature sound.

Toots and the Maytals’ 1968 hit “Do the Reggay” gave rise to reggae music’s name and ultimately helped establish it as Jamaica’s dominant style of popular music. Later, its appeal expanded worldwide.

Reggae became widely popular across Jamaica by the ’70s. Religious groups such as Rastafarians incorporated its beats into their chants; lovers rock, which celebrated sexual love, also became part of Jamaican culture.

Jamaican music was greatly shaped by social unrest in Jamaican society and helped define its sense of identity and pride. This music became widely popular outside Europe and America. It spread hope among people from diverse backgrounds; thus serving as a vehicle to bring them all closer together.

Reggae was also instrumental in shaping other forms of modern music, including dub, hip hop and drum and bass. Reggae’s rhythms and bass lines inspired modern forms of dance while its lyrics offered social commentary about various issues.

As the music developed, its style transitioned into what became known as dancehall reggae. With its lighter tempo and lack of lyrics, dancehall reggae quickly gained mainstream development through artists like Black Uhuru, King Jammy’s, and Scorpions.

As reggae continues to evolve, women are becoming an increasing presence within its genre. Artists such as Queen Ifrika, Jah Nine, Hempress Sativa and Koffee have all made waves within it with fresh voices that champion female empowerment while maintaining balance between men and women – the “Omega Principle.”


Reggae music has long been revered and enjoyed worldwide, inspiring musicians of all kinds with its rhythm and beat. Be it spiritual, political or romantic lyrics that resonate, reggae has helped musicians craft an iconic sound that stands apart from other genres. Key features of reggae include its emphasis on beat three (usually played as a snare or rim shot) and syncopations in the drumbeat; both being essential elements that define its unique soundscape.

Jamaica-based singers and bands have advanced reggae music. Bob Marley was perhaps one of the most influential reggae artists, taking this niche music genre worldwide with songs that advocated on behalf of those less fortunate – such as his songs about poverty such as “Is It Fair that Some Have More than Others” or “The Tide Is Rising”.

Sly Dunbar was an innovative drummer who challenged reggae’s rhythms by using various beats and syncopations techniques to create more intricate sounds – most famously on his hit tracks “Night Nurse” and “Sponji Reggae”. Meanwhile, The Heptones established themselves at Studio One during the ’60s with hits including lewd songs like “Fatty Fatty” and an innocent cover of “Only Sixteen”. These members would go on to form Roots Radics alongside an international roster of artists.

Toots and the Maytals were one of the early reggae acts to gain widespread acclaim, and helped coin its name through their 1968 single “Do the Reggay”, also believed to have been the first use of the term’reggae’. Toots Hibbert’s soulful vocals gave the band an edge over other ska and rocksteady groups at that time.

Desmond Dekker was another highly influential reggae artist; his songs in Jamaican dialect addressed social problems of his day while providing hope, love and freedom through faith and freedom messages. Lee “Scratch” Perry also contributed heavily to reggae music with his distinctive sound – producing and backing many singers including Johnny Nash and Gloria Gaynor in the 1960s and 70s.

In the 1970s, ska/rocksteady gave way to more reggae-influenced rhythms that featured guitar work and let singers display individual vocal styles. Bands such as The Paragons’ John Holt was known for his distinctive tone while Matisyahu fused reggae with Jewish themes for greater reach outside the Caribbean region.