February is here, and you know what time it is in Jamaica. It’s Reggae Month! Reggae music has been a global phenomenon for decades, inspiring people with its message of hope and togetherness. This year the theme is “Reigniting Reggae’s Legacy”.
Reggae’s incredible power is a globalized language, transcending national and language boundaries. It has a profound, spiritual energy, and its lyrics often focus on positivity, unity, and hope. Consequently, its unifying power brings together people from all walks of life. It has become the language for understanding and peace while fueling a fight against injustice. Reggae’s power, through the message in the music, creates a more harmonious and unified world amid globalization. It is a powerful force which dissects the movement for globalization by reminding its followers that ‘no man is an island. No man stands alone.’ These poignant words are by the Crowned Prince of Reggae, the Honourable Dennis Emmanuel Brown.
Reggae’s Roots: A Brief History
Reggae music originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The roots of Reggae trace back to ska, a popular musical genre in Jamaica throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Ska was a fusion of various musical styles, including jazz, rhythm and blues, and calypso.
In the late 1960s, the fast ska beat slowed to a more relaxed style known as Reggae. The new style characterized a distinctive bassline and offbeat guitar strumming and focused on lyrics that dealt with social and political issues.
Reggae music quickly gained popularity in Jamaica and spread worldwide. Bob Marley, one of the most famous reggae musicians, helped to bring Reggae to a global audience and became an icon of the genre.
Undoubtedly, it has profoundly impacted popular culture as a beloved genre globally.
Reggae, Politics and Protest Music
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the war against racism throughout the United States adopted reggae music as a tool for change. Songs like Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” and Peter Tosh’s “Down Presser Man” became anthems of the movement. In the years following, the anti-apartheid soundtrack utilized the message in Reggae music during protests in South Africa. The music is a staple of anti-government demonstrations in countries like Zimbabwe and Haiti.
Reggae is also a source of empowerment for marginalized communities. Popularly used to raise awareness about issues such as poverty, inequality, and human rights abuses. Musicians like Bob Marley and Burning Spear challenge the status quo and inspire change. The music inspires new generations of musicians to use their art for activism and social justice.
The Global Appeal of Reggae Music
The world embraces, studies, duplicates and depends on Reggae as a global phenomenon to ‘Wake the town and tell all the people’. The genre highlights people’s common ground and gives hope to a challenging world.