The first of its kind! We're introducing regular blog posts as a staple of the 99Piece website, mainly based around music, culture, black history and sport. This week we take a focus on Reggae Music and why in my humble opinion Reggae music is the best black genre to ever exist!
1. Reggae is a Generational Genre!
Reggae music is generational! Ultimately it may be one of the only genres that your parents, your grandparents, and your kids (depending on your age) can listen to. This is what makes Reggae such a beautiful genre, it touches the soul and minds of anyone that listens to it and is a genre that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Have you ever played a reggae song on your speaker and been told to turn it off? I highly doubt it. Elements like these can help form bonds between younger and older generations, the power of reggae music and its authentic global sound.
2. Reggae is loved by all cultures
At this point depending on the circles, you move in, it should be common knowledge that Reggae music is loved across all cultures, from its origins in Jamaica to African cultures, European cultures, and Latin America. Reggae has been a global sound since the late 60’s/early ’70s with the likes of Jimmy Cliff & Bob Marley’s music circulating across radio stations and music playlists worldwide with the release of “The Harder They Come” in 1973 & Kaya in 1978. Proof of this is Reggae festivals taking place all over the world, from the U.K. to Germany and from Las Vegas to Miami. Reggae is a cross-cultural genre, loved by many and ultimately here to stay for that reason. When a genre can intersect a multitude of cultures without compromising its authentic sound, over a sustained period, it goes to show the impact and significance of the sound.
3. The most conscious genre – musician as the messenger
Reggae is widely known for being a conscious genre, a genre of substance and one in which artists from the genre express deep emotion and messages within their music. Reggae has always been seen as synonymous with Rastafari, with reggae musicians often being seen as messengers for speaking up against the system and speaking on injustices, everyday life, and their cultural roots. Listening to Reggae music can teach you a thing or two and does a thorough job of portraying the life of the ‘people’. Reggae artists have never been afraid to speak their minds and go against the status quo. This is a key feature, that you won’t find in many other music genres.
4. Artists tend to use the same beats but make completely different songs
An interesting feature of Reggae and few other Caribbean origin music genres is the notion of artists frequently using instrumentals or ‘riddims’ that have been used by their fellow reggae artists, however, it’s done in a way in which the two songs, although using the same instrumental, will sound completely different when comparing the two – showcasing the range in subject matter, vocal range, and genuine talent. The common case in different spaces would be that if two artists were to go over the same beat or instrumental, one artist’s version is likely to be the one that is remembered or considered the better take, but when we look at Reggae, there’s room for everyone to deliver and be appreciated for what they bring to the table. Take a listen to both tracks below, Sean Paul’s – Never Be The Same vs Jah Cure’s - Love Is, both over the same instrumental but two very different songs.
Sean Paul – Never Gonna Be The Same, off of Sean Paul's Third Studio Album 'The Trinity'.
Jah Cure - Love Is, off of his album 'True Reflections... A New Beginning", which he released after serving 8 years in prison.
5. Some of the most legendary rap songs OAT have reggae hooks
I don’t know about you guys reading this, but for me, Rap is one of my favourites if not my number 1 genre in terms of how frequently I listen to rap, the amount of rap music from videos to albums that I grew up on, even down to the way I speak and specific words and phrases that I may use from time to time! With all of that being said, some of the most legendary rap songs to ever grace our ears, are assisted by hooks from Reggae artists, that ultimately give the tracks a fresh and raw feel to it. Some of the best examples I can think of off top are The Game Ft Junior Reid – It’s Okay (One Blood), the lead single off the Doctor’s Advocate, The Game’s second album and widely known for being the track in which The Game allegedly dissed Jay-Z. Another personal favourite of mine is Shyne Ft Barrington Levy - Bonnie & Shyne, and more recently we saw Jay Z & reggae legend Damian Marley connect on Bam, off 4:44, HOV’s most recent album which samples an old-time reggae classic by Sister Nancy – Bam Bam. Reggae artists are highly respected by musicians across different genres and musical spaces, hence why they are often seen collaborating and being recognised by many
6. Reggae is a Timeless Genre
Reggae is undeniably a timeless genre, simply based off the fact that Reggae from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s is still played today. Whether that be at the dance, on the radio or at your family function. Reggae music has no expiry date, the reason why reggae artists have so much longevity and can make music into their elder years. Artists like Marcia Griffiths are a great example. She dropped her first solo project, Survival in 1977 and dropped her most recent album ‘Blessed Reggae’ last year, an astonishing 44 years later! It’s also the reason why pioneers of the sound can connect with newer artists across different genres and add value to the track, as we saw recently with Wizkid featuring Damian Marley on his Made In Lagos Album, with the single ‘Blessed’, which was deemed a standout track for many. Reggae is an ever-evolving genre, and it shows with Reggae of today sounding very different from that of the past, however, it’s still maintaining its roots and core subject matters. The newer scene of Reggae boasts the likes of Koffee (Grammy Award Winner), Chronix, Lila Ike & Skip Marley – showcasing that the genre is in good hands, as these artists continue to keep the sound alive and strong, reaching global stardom all whilst dropping music that is genuine to their lives and their story.
7. Reggae has birthed some of your favourite genres among other things.
Finally, Reggae music has birthed the existence of numerous genres, businesses, and experiences. Without Reggae you wouldn’t have the existence of Lovers Rock, a more romantic and softer style of reggae music that’s cultural origins stem in London off the back of Reggae music being hugely popular in England, due to the heavy migration of Caribbean people from the late ’40s into the ’70s, widely referred to as the ‘Windrush generation. Without Reggae and its influence, we wouldn’t have the likes of drum & bass, dubstep, and grime, which have all taken key elements of reggae sound system culture and moulded them into their niche forms of music. We also see elements like Reggae festivals taking place all around the world, with one of the most recent being City Splash in Brixton, and events like Reggae Brunch which tour the U.K. and beyond providing people with a unique experience all catered around reggae music and culture.
These are seven reasons why I believe Reggae is the best black music genre to ever exist, in my eyes, they’re all reasons that are undeniable and can’t be debated. The global impact and influence of the sound stretches far and wide, and is one that has been here before many of us we're alive, and will remain long after we’re gone!
Written by Toren - Founder of 99Piece