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By Jessica Jones
Reggae is a style of music that originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. It can be
identified by the offbeat rhythm and simple chord progressions. Reggae evolved
from the Ska and Rocksteady genres, and is slower than both. Reggae puts accents
on the second and fourth beat of each bar.

The first ever Reggae song is considered to be Israelites By Desmond Dekker, as it
was the first to reach the Top Ten.

The songs lyrics are normally about love, war, social injustice, or cannabis. The
1960s was a time of protest with the Cold War and the Vietnam war. Also, black
civil rights were being seen as an issue, as racism slowly began its decline. This
made social injustice, inequality and protest the main topics of reggae songs.
Rastafarians used cannabis as an aid to meditation and worship to their king, Haile
Selassie I of Ethiopia. This also became an important topic in reggae songs and
reggae culture.
By far, the most well known reggae artist is
Bob Marley. Born 6
February 1945 and
died 11
May 1981, Marley developed a
distinctive style that became world famous.
From 1962-1972, Bob Marley was part of
The Wailers, a trio. Although raised as
Catholic by his mother, Marley became
interested in Rastafarian beliefs. To date,
Bob Marley has released 13 studio albums
and 2 live albums. The last album,
Confrontation, was released in 1983 two
years after Marleys death.
Peter Tosh was part of The Wailers
Bob Marleys original group. He lived
19 October 1944 11 September
1987, until he was shot by three gang
members who wanted money. He first
picked up a guitar after staring at a
man who was playing the same song
for half a day. He then picked up the
guitar and played the song back to the
man. He began to sing in a trio in
1962, along with Bob Marley and
Bunny Wailer. He went on to have a
solo career in 1976, releasing his first
album Legalize It. He produced
seven studio albums before his death.
Desmond Dekker is another
influential Reggae artist. He sang the
song Israelites, which is considered
to be the first Reggae song to some
people. He joined a group called The
Aces and released their last album in
Dekker played songs in the style of
Reggae, Ska, and Rocksteady. He also
released the well-known song You
Can Get It If You Really Want.
He eventually passed away o the 25

May, 2006, due to a heart attack. He
was planning to headline a world
music festival.
Leslie Kong (1933 August 9, 1971)
produced music for Desmond Dekker as
well as bob Marley and the wailers, and
Jimmy Cliff. He was a Chinese-Jamaican
Reggae record producer.

The Rastafari movement is centered in Africa (Ethiopia in
particular) and Jamaica. It is a rather new religion born in the
1930s. Currently, there are roughly a million followers
worldwide 5000 being found in Wales and England.

They believe that Haile Selassie I is God and that Black
people are Gods chosen people. The religion spread quickly
after Bob Marley became famous in the 70s, as his music
talked about his religion. Reggae is now associated with
Rastafarians, as well as Dreadlocks, marijuana (it is taken by
Rastafarians to reach spiritual heights), and the colors red,
gold, green and black. Red represents the blood of those
killed for the blacks who were oppressed throughout the
history of Jamaica. Gold represents the wealth of Ethiopia.
Green represents the vegetation. Black represents the skin
color of the Jamaicans who started the Rastafari Movement.

The lion is the symbol of Rastafari, which represents their
God, the king Haile Selassie I. The dreadlocks, that most
Rastafarians choose to have, represents the lions mane.
Ska is a genre that started in the 1950s in Jamaica. It is more upbeat than
Reggae, and combines elements of Blues, Calypso, and other styles. Ska
can be separated into waves The first wave originated in Jamaica in
1960s, the second wave was the English two tone which occurred in the
1970s, and the third wave began in the 1980s, but became popular in
the 1990s in the US.

Rocksteady came after Ska, but before Reggae. It also originated in
Jamaica, in 1966. It has an offbeat rhythm just like Reggae and Ska.
Rocksteady is slightly slower than Ska, and many of their songs are love
songs, or about the Rastafari movement. Eventually, Rocksteady became
less popular in Jamaica. The songs became less about romance as the
Rastafari movement grew, and more about rights, politics, and equality.
When Rocksteady died, Reggae took its place.
No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley &
the Wailers (1974)

The lyrics of this song, No Woman, No Cry, may be seen as
expressing the positive sides of being single, however that is not
the case. The second no is pronounced with a mumbled O
sound, nuh, which means dont. The song is about
encouraging a woman growing up in the ghetto that things will
get better, and telling her not to cry.

Israelites - Desmond Dekker & the
Aces (1968)

Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir,
so that every mouth can be fed.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir,
So that every mouth can be fed.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

My wife and my kids, they are packed up and leave me.
Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Shirt them a-tear up, trousers are gone.
I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

After a storm there must be a calm.
They catch me in the farm. You sound the alarm.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Poor me, the Israelite.
I wonder who I'm working for.
Poor me, Israelite,
I look a-down and out, sir.

The lyrics are very powerful, and tell of a man
who works hard everyday simply to eat, without
enjoying any luxuries.
Stir It Up - Bob Marley & the Wailers

This was a song written for Rita Marley, Bob Marleys wife.
It was covered quite a lot:

In 1991, the song was covered by Dread Zeppelin
In 1993, the song was covered by The Black Sorrows
In 1993, the song was covered by Diana King
In 1993, the song was covered by Haddaway
In 2009, the song was covered by The Fratellis.
Pressure Drop - Toots & the Maytals

This song is very popular in the western culture. It has
recently featured in the video games Saints Row 4, Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the film 50 First Dates. It has
also been covered numerous times by British artists such as
The Specials, The Clash, and Robert Palmer. The original
artists were Jamaican, so this piece was very influential in
raising popularity and awareness of Reggae in other
The Harder They Come - Jimmy
Cliff (1972)

This is a reggae song, but was covered by the Ska band Madness in 1992.
Madness are a white British band, which shows how far the evolution of
reggae has progressed from the people of Jamaica and Ethiopia, to
everywhere around the world.

The song featured on the soundtrack of the film with the same name. The
film, the Harder They Come, is a Jamaican crime film. The reggae
soundtrack was said to have Brought reggae to the world.
One Love - Bob Marley & the Wailers

This song is Reggae/Rhythm and Blues. The lyrics are about love and
peace, a common theme among reggae songs. It has a powerful message
that is portrayed in many of Marleys songs.

It is very popular in modern culture and is well known worldwide.

Madness are a British Ska band who
gained massive fame, not only in the UK
but in America and Ireland also. This
shows the evolution of reggae music has
spread across the globe. From originating
as Jamaicans singing in the ghetto about
war and peace, to British people using the
off beat patterns and speeding it up to
create up tempo, loveable songs about a
variety of topics.
Our House Madness

The Skatalites Ska Authentic (1964)
The skatalites are an early example of a Ska band. The
album is heavily influenced by jazz. This group is very
different in comparison to Madness, who are a much
more modern sounding group, whereas The Skatalites
are a lot more simple sounding.
Reggae has spread from Jamaica and
Ethiopia to all the corners of the world. Bands
such as Madness and UB40 stemmed from
reggae roots, and are groups from the UK. The
music has sustained popularity to date, and is
currently popular in Jamaica, Thailand,
Australia, Germany, Japan, USA, France, and
Spain, which have Reggae festivals regularly in
certain areas.