Reggae was launched in Jamaica in the late 1960s in a context of strong competition among small music producers.
It is the fruit of many encounters and crossbreeding: evolution of ska then rocksteady, it finds its roots in the rhythms and white colonial music that we played slaves (polka, mazurka, scottish, quadrille but also musics of military types with fifes and drums), the cultural and musical forms of the 19th century such as Kumina, Junkanoo (en) or Revival Zion which translate into traditional Caribbean music (mento then calypso), but is also very influenced by Rhythm and blues, jazz and soul music (American music was very popular in Jamaica at the time).
To these influences is added those of African music, the Rasta movement and Nyabinghi songs, which use drums derived from Afro-Jamaican Buru ceremonies.
This interbreeding will not stop there: nowadays, many styles are inspired, integrate or take up the reggae style around the world. Reggae is now universal music, as its main ambassador, Bob Marley, wished.
The term appeared in 1968 in Jamaica, but its origin is controversial. It could come from the Jamaican English word, “streggae”, which indicates a poorly dressed or under-dressed person, and from there, prostitutes11; this word would have been modified by a Jamaican radio station at the time.
This etymology is also provided by the great reggae producer Bunny Lee who explains it to the musician and musicologist specialist of Jamaica Bruno Blum in the film Get Up Stand Up, the history of reggae, specifying that the radios had not liked the derogatory word "streggae".
During the winter of 1968, the measured Rocksteady rhythm gave way to a faster, more playful, more dancing sound.
Reggae was born. Toots (Toots Hibbert) announced this new sound with the precursor title Do the Reggay, a complex monster with groove advertising “the new dance that was spreading in the city.” Toots wanted to “do Reggae, with you!”
From 1969 to 1971 Toots could not go wrong when recording for Leslie Kong. With the Beverley’s All-Stars (Jackie Jackson, Winston Wright, Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, Paul Douglas and Winston Grennan), a constant core of musicians and the brilliant harmony of the Maytals, Toots wrote and sang in his inimitable voice on every conceivable voice.
Lovers rock, launched in London in the mid-1970s, defines a soft reggae, with a less marked rhythm, which speaks of love and sentimental situations and is opposed in this way to reggae roots. It has become synonymous with "romantic" reggae, the most representative Jamaican figures of which are Gregory Isaacs, John Holt, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor.
The Skinhead reggae differs from rocksteady by a faster tempo, an often doubled organ skank and a funk influence in the bass playing while the drums marked the third beat with a measure of four beats, like the rocksteady (in ska, it was the second and fourth beat)
The New roots (year 1995) marks the beginning of the "new-roots" wave started the previous year by the death of singer Garnett Silk.
In terms of texts, the new roots, also called dancehall roots, indicates the return of the fashion for conscious and "cultural" texts (less present since the second half of the 1980s where the most prominent texts often dealt with ambiguous firearms or sex) in Jamaican reggae, under the revival of Rasta influence.
Early Reggae · Lovers rock · New roots · One-drop · Skinhead reggae ·
Ragga · Reggae fusion · Reggae rock · Rocksteady ·
Roots reggae · Rub-a-dub