Reggae made a splash in the music scene during the late 1960s in Jamaica. The genre has its roots in ska and rocksteady, and is heavily influences by the Rastafarian Practice . Reggae is based on a rhythmic style which is known as the Skank. Reggae finally blossomed and had its rebirth in the United Kingdom, where reggae artists finally received the recognition they couldn’t get from Jamaica. Reggae was a hit in Europe and spread throughout the globe from there. Legend has it that Bob Marley claimed the word reggae came from a Spanish term “for the king’s music”, with the Latin word “regi” meaning “to the king.” For more on this exceptional genre of music, here are 10 fast facts about reggae:
Fact 1: If you’re from the Caribbean, then you’d know that every February is Reggae Month! The whole month is jam packed with the best Reggae hits, with music filling the air well into the night. Whether you hear it on all of the radio stations, or at the local beach front or bar, the infectious beats will have you bopping your head all the way to March!
Fact 2: The Rastafari practice of Ital is a lifestyle that concerns itself with life energy. Rastafari in itself means ‘energy’. Almost all reggae musicians, especially back in the day, were strictly vegetarian. The late legend Bob Marley was a prime example. Rastafarians don’t eat meat because meat is dead and does not work with the concept of life energy.
Fact 3: A type of Reggae called “Skinhead” is reggae that’s faster and louder than usual. It was introduced in the late 60’s, with several reggae artists composing songs targeted at the rising Skinhead movement. Popular Skinhead reggae bands include The Pioneers, John Holt, and Toots & The Maytals.
Fact 4: There are about 15 musical forms of Reggae Music to date, with Rhythm and Blues and Jazz being key influences in the birth of the genre. The most dominant instrument used for creating the infectious tones of reggae music is the bass guitar, the most important element of all.
Fact 5: The three main dialects in composing a reggae song are Jamaican English, Jamaican Patois, and Lyaric. Majority of the lyrics in Reggae songs express social criticism, but subjects such as love and life are also touched on.
Fact 6: Reggae en Español is one of the world’s most popular types of music and is prevalent in most parts of the world, most especially South America, Venezuela, South American Caribbean, and Guyana.
Fact 7: Contrary to popular belief, reggae music didn’t get its start at Jamaica. It was in the United Kingdom during the last stretch of 1960 that reggae music received worldwide recognition, catapulting reggae artists into stardom. It was easier rising to fame in Europe than it was in the Caribbean and Jamaican communities.
Fact 8: It took one trip from Bob Marley to have record sales and the popularity of reggae music sky rocket in Zimbabwe!
Fact 9: The legendary musicians that contributed to the world of reggae music include Bob Marley, Charles Edwards, Leonard Howell, Archibald Dunkley, Peter Tosh, Charles Edwards, Mortimer Planno, and Joseph Hibbert. Popular hits that are still loved even today include “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You”, “Kingston Town” and “Red Red Wine”, to name a few. The most popular reggae album of all time was Marley’s “Legend” album.
Fact 10: Reggae drumbeats fall under three categories, namely one drop, rockers, and steppers. One drop is reggae that focuses on kicks and snares, also known as the backbeat of a song. Rockers is predominantly closing and opening the hi hat, while Steppers has the all important bass drum kick sound off on the quarter beat of each bar, giving the track a kick great driving tempo.