During the 20th century reggae music has played a very important role in Jamaican society. It is a music associated with Rastafarians, and a social movement which gave a voice to the country's poor black communities in a time where the Jamaican government banned politically controversial reggae songs from the airways and jailed or deported Rastafarian leaders. Reggae also served as a means to spread the religion of Rastafari, which worships Haile Salaassie I as Jah. Majority of Rastafarians believe that Selassie is the reincarnation of Jesus. Reggae originated from mento.
Many listeners of reggae music classify it as island music. However, reggae music means a lot to the Jamaican community back home and abroad. Reggae music in particular has influenced the Jamaican expat community in the United States. Non-Jamaicans hear the tunes of Bob Marley and quickly relate the Jamaicans to people who say “No problem Mon” but as outsiders, we truly don’t understand the lyrics. The purpose of this paper is to examine how reggae music has affected the understanding of expat Jamaicans.
Jamaica is known for its jerked chicken, clear waters, and more notably for Reggae, which makes Jamaican culture globally recognized. However, despite its mainstream entertainment value of today, reggae is not only music; however it is a way of life for some Jamaicans. It originated as a political form of protest against the colonial forces operative in the social context of Jamaican life. Musical ambassadors like the Abyssinians, Burning Spear, Sir Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Rita Marley, along with many others, can be credited with introducing reggae music to the world and giving it international recognition. Yet, despite its popularity, many do not understand the cultural and political climate in which Reggae was developed.
To the unaccustomed ear it is easy to forget, or altogether ignore, the paradoxical fact that such a cheerful, upbeat rhythm is used as a form of protest. Reggae music has traditionally been used as a method to speak against such serious issues as slavery, colonialism/neo-colonialism, repression, and poverty. Thus, to better understand this unique form of music it becomes necessary to analyze the message conveyed in the music from the sound itself. Dancehall, both as a form of music and especially as a reflection of society and its beliefs, frequently stands directly against the music from the 'golden age' of reggae in the 1970s. One of the most startling differences between these two forms of music is how the DJs of dancehall visions' of the world differs from that of conventional reggae artists.
Buju Banton- Untold Stories Buju Banton approach to “Untold Stories” talks about the current situation in Jamaica, detailing the trials and tribulations of the ghetto dwellers of Buju’s own Kingston, Jamiaca. But, through detailing the specific struggles of his own people, Buju lays bare the class warfare which afflicts poor people all over the world. Buju Banton was born Mark Anthony Myrie in 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. Two decades later, Buju had become one of his country’s top DJs. (In Jamaica, the term ‘DJ’ refers to what we Americans think of as an MC or rapper.)
Several lyrics from some of his songs includes countless Jamaican traits that helped Americas civil rights movement by integrating his Jamaican culture into American culture by using the power of music. The song ‘Buffalo Soldier’ helps Americans visualize how some people in Jamaica looked like, and how they were actually living rather than just an image fictionalized in their heads. The first stanza of the song states that a “Dreadlock Rasta” was ‘stolen from Africa, and brought to America’ which illustrates the struggles and hardships some Jamaicans had to deal with to people that don’t have the resources to see it firsthand. Some lyrics in the song ‘Jammin’ gives context to some of the Rastafarian beliefs that he thought to be true regarding a higher being. In the song, he wrote the lyrics ‘Jah sitteth in Mount Zion and rules all creation’ that informs most Americans, who are typically Christian or Catholic, on a different Religion which allowed people to me more open-minding in controversial topics.
Despite the controversy regarding the derogative nature of Hip-hop, One cannot downplay the cultural influences that hip-hop has impressed on the world. Merriam-Webster defines hip-hop as the stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rap (citation). Although the conventional definition of hip-hop is generally correct, it does not adequately portray the gravity of the movement. Coined by the urban youth, Hip-hop has forced its way to the pinnacle of mainstream America. Hip-hop’s massive influence on the English language, the fashion industry, and world peace warrants its cultural superiority.
The music of Jamaica includes many popular genres such as calypso, ska, dancehall; the more modern form of reggae and the most popular reggae. “Reggae means 'regular'”, by that Jamaicans mean that they are average people who undergo hardships. Music that was once about love and sex began to subside. The music then shifted in meaning and had more powerful lyrics about social and political inequality. To the reggae artists, this was the only way to get their points across and to be heard.
She analyzes the use and meaning of sampling. Rap music uses sampling not to steal and mask a previously used beat or sound or lyric but instead to pay homage to its origins and the traditions that came before the artist using the sample. She states, “Rap music has dramatically changed the intended use of sampling technology, it has remained critically linked to black poetic traditions and the oral forms that underwrite them” (93). This kind of relationship between rap and technology is another way to acknowledge black history and attempts to educate the popular public of the origins of the samples and the traditions of black rap
When looking at the evolution of the Reggae genre of music, there is a lot more than people think that contributed to its popularity. The most common reference among today’s generation and the Reggae music is undoubtedly, Bob Marley. Although, he really brought this genre of music to the forefront and made it as popular as we know it today, people do not full understand the history of this music and what it evolved from. The evolution of Reggae is contributable to the evolution of the recording studios, primarily in Jamaica at the time. The local Rastafarians, who pioneered and perfected this sound, started this music.