8 Best Reggae Music History Facts

By: Bryan K.

We've all heard the infectious beats of reggae and felt the urge to sway, but do you know where it all began?

Follow us on a journey through the rich history of reggae music. From its Jamaican roots to its global reach, we'll explore eight of the best facts about reggae's past.

Whether you're a fan or a newbie, come experience the power of reggae music with us!

Key Takeaways

  • Reggae music has its roots in Jamaica's traditional mento and calypso music, and was influenced by American jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues.
  • Prominent reggae artists such as Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Sly & Robbie have shaped the reggae music scene and ensured its enduring legacy.
  • Reggae music has its origins in genres such as ska and rocksteady, and is characterized by syncopated rhythms, a unique sound, and political and social messages.
  • Reggae music has become popular worldwide, with over one hundred different reggae genres, and has had a significant influence on pop culture and fashion.

Jamaica's Reggae Origins

We've come a long way from Jamaica's reggae origins. Jamaica's culture and musical history has been influential in the creation of reggae music, a style that was popularized in the late 1960s and has grown in popularity ever since.

Reggae is a genre that has its roots in Jamaica's traditional mento and calypso music as well as the influence of American jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues. It combines elements of all these styles to create a unique and uplifting musical experience.

Reggae has a distinct form of vocals, often featuring a repeating chorus and improvised lyrics, as well as a steady beat and offbeat accents that are essential to the reggae sound.

Jamaica's culture and musical history have influenced the creation of a truly unique and powerful style of music that has been enjoyed around the world for decades.

Reggae Artists

Many of the world's most iconic reggae artists have left an indelible mark on the genre. From Bob Marley to Burning Spear, Reggae influencers have forever shaped the music and its subgenres.

Here are some of the best Reggae music history facts:

  • Bob Marley is widely considered to be one of the most influential reggae artists of all time.
  • Burning Spear is known for his politically charged lyrics and is credited with creating the roots reggae sound.
  • Sly & Robbie are a prolific Jamaican rhythm section and production duo who've worked with some of the biggest names in the genre.

These artists and their music have earned the respect and admiration of both fans and critics, and their contributions have helped shape the reggae music scene and ensure its enduring legacy.

Reggae Music Genres

We often associate reggae music with Jamaica, but its origins are a combination of ska, rocksteady, and other genres.

Ska and dub were especially popular in the 1960s and 70s, and reggae has since become a worldwide music phenomenon.

Origins of Reggae

Although reggae music has evolved over time, its roots remain firmly planted in Jamaican music genres such as ska and rocksteady.

Reggae music has its origins in the Caribbean, mainly in Jamaica, and is a combination of African and Caribbean musical influences. It's a genre of music characterized by its use of syncopated rhythms, its unique sound, and its focus on political and social messages.

The roots of reggae can be traced back to the early 1960s with the development of ska, an upbeat form of music that combines elements of jazz, mento, and rhythm and blues. Reggae was further popularized in the mid-1960s by rocksteady, a slower, more soulful style of reggae. The culture of reggae also played an important role in the development of the genre, with its focus on political and social messages.

These are just a few of the best reggae music history facts. With its roots firmly planted in Jamaican music genres, reggae is a genre that continues to influence and shape music today.

Transitioning into the next section, let's take a closer look at ska and dub, two hugely influential genres in the development of reggae.

Ska & Dub

Back in the 1960s, ska and dub were two of the most influential genres when it came to the development of reggae. Ska is a genre of music characterized by a walking bass line, offbeat rhythms, and a strong emphasis on horns. It's a faster variation of the mento and calypso music of Jamaica and is often played in upbeat and danceable tempos.

Dub reggae, on the other hand, is a style of reggae that features the remixing of existing recordings and the use of studio effects such as echo and reverb. Dub is a genre with its roots in the reggae sound system culture of Jamaica.

The Ska Revival of the late 1970s and early 1980s played a key role in the popularization of reggae music, and the genre still remains hugely popular today. Dub reggae, on the other hand, has also seen a resurgence in popularity, with the genre being used to create a range of new musical styles, from dubstep to grime.

Popularity Worldwide

Since the Ska Revival of the late 1970s and early 1980s, reggae music has become popular around the world with over one hundred different reggae genres now existing. Dancehall's Appeal has been a large driver of its widespread success, with its upbeat rhythms and catchy melodies. Reggae Revivalism has also played a key role in the globalization of reggae, with various genres combining to form the current sound.

Here are three of the main reggae genres that are popular today:

  • Dub – Focused on the production of heavily edited and layered tracks
  • Ragga – Combining reggae and dancehall with hip-hop
  • Reggaeton – Combining reggae rhythms with Latin music

Reggae in Pop Culture

We've seen reggae pop up in pop culture over the years. From its influence on fashion, to its use in films, reggae has made its mark on the world of entertainment. Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy examples of reggae in pop culture:

Movies Fashion
The Harder They Come Rasta Colors
Rockers Bob Marley T-Shirts
Countryman Dreadlocks
Babylon Bob Marley Hats
Dancehall Queen Reggae Accessories

Reggae has had an undeniable influence on pop culture. From its impact on fashion to its use in films, reggae has left its mark on the entertainment world. Whether you're a fan of the music or just appreciate its influence, these examples of reggae in pop culture are sure to entertain and educate.

Reggae Record Labels

We've explored the origins and rise of reggae, so let's take a closer look at some of the most influential reggae record labels.

From the founding of Studio One to modern-day labels like VP Records, there's a wealth of reggae history to discover.

Origin of Reggae

We're digging into the origin of reggae to uncover some of the earliest record labels that helped define the genre. Reggae music has its roots in Jamaica and is a mix of African, Caribbean, and American sounds. It was popularized in the late 1960s and 1970s and has since become a global phenomenon.

Here are the three record labels that were instrumental in the formation of reggae culture:

  • Trojan Records: Founded in 1968, this label brought international recognition to reggae with its classic compilations and single releases.
  • Island Records: This label was founded in Jamaica in 1959 and is credited with bringing reggae into mainstream music.
  • Studio One: This label is credited with helping to create the unique sound of reggae. It was founded in Kingston in 1965 and is still going strong today.

These record labels are responsible for much of the music that has shaped reggae culture over the years. Their contributions are invaluable and show the power of music to affect generations of people.

Rise of Reggae

Through the rise of reggae record labels such as Trojan Records, Island Records, and Studio One, reggae music spread across the world. These labels enabled a wider audience to experience the vibrant Rasta culture and distinctive sound of reggae, which was created through a unique fusion of traditional African rhythms with American jazz and blues. The popularity of the genre soon skyrocketed, leading to a surge in reggae-influenced music and the emergence of new subgenres such as ska, dub, and rocksteady. This musical revolution saw reggae become a globally celebrated art form, inspiring generations of artists and listeners alike. | Record Label | Year Established | | :————————- | :——————: | | Trojan Records | 1968 | | Island Records | 1959 | | Studio One | 1963 |

Reggae Labels Today

Today, many of the same labels that helped make reggae famous are still popular, such as Trojan Records, Island Records, and Studio One. These labels continue to produce the same high-quality reggae sound, while also expanding to include sub-genres and attract mass appeal.

Here are 3 of the most prominent labels in reggae today:

  • VP Records: This Jamaican reggae label was founded in 1979, and has become a leader in the reggae industry. It produces and distributes a variety of reggae music, including dancehall, hip hop, and roots reggae.
  • Greensleeves Records: This UK-based reggae label is one of the oldest, having been founded in 1978. Greensleeves is known for its high-quality releases across a variety of reggae sub-genres, including dub, dancehall, and reggae rock.
  • Taxi Records: This label, founded in 1977, has released over 100 records and has been influential in the reggae and dancehall music scenes. Taxi Records is a major player in the reggae industry, producing and distributing a variety of styles of reggae music.

These labels continue to produce high-quality reggae music and push the boundaries of the genre, making them some of the most important labels in the reggae industry today.

Reggae Influences

Drawing upon influences from around the world, we've created a unique sound that has resonated with music fans everywhere. Reggae's cultural diversity is expressed through a variety of styles, from ska and rocksteady, to dub and dancehall. The latter has become a popular trend, with its fast-paced rhythms and reggae-infused raps.

Reggae's global influence is also seen in the many festivals that take place each year. From Europe to the Caribbean, and even the United States, these events celebrate the powerful sound of reggae music. With its deep roots in Jamaica, reggae has come to represent a diverse range of musical styles. It's clear that reggae has made an indelible mark on the global music scene, and these festivals are a testament to its importance.

As we move into the next section about Reggae Festivals, we can see just how influential this genre has become.

Reggae Festivals

Celebrating the power and diversity of reggae music, we've attended festivals around the world to experience the unique sound of this genre. From the iconic Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica to Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, these festivals showcase the range of reggae music.

Here are some of the key elements that make reggae festivals so memorable:

  • Rastafarianism: The spiritual and cultural beliefs of Rastafarianism are often featured at these festivals, from the dreadlocks of the performers to the reggae lyrics and rhythms.
  • Music Business: While the reggae festivals have plenty of entertainment, they also serve as important industry events. Promoters, producers, and labels come together to ensure that the music business continues to thrive.
  • Crowds: From the thousands of revelers to the dedicated reggae fans, the atmosphere at these festivals is truly electric. Everyone is united by the power of reggae music, and the joy of the experience.

Reggae's Global Reach

As reggae music has spread across the world, we've seen its cultural impact and musical influence in countless places.

From the Caribbean islands to the United States, reggae has inspired a wide range of genres, from ska to rocksteady to dancehall.

Even in the United Kingdom, where reggae was embraced as early as the 1960s, the genre has had an immense influence on the music scene.

In Japan, reggae has gained a large following, with the genre's sound being adopted by local bands and fused with traditional music.

Reggae has also made its way to Africa, where it's been embraced by musicians in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.

As reggae continues to grow in popularity, its global reach is undeniable.

With its unique sound and powerful message, reggae has become an integral part of many cultures around the world.


We've explored some of the best reggae music history facts, from Jamaica's reggae roots to its global reach.

Reggae music has been a source of inspiration for music lovers around the world, like a beacon of light in the dark.

It has been embraced by generations of artists, labels, and festivals, and its influence continues to be felt today.

Reggae music has been a vehicle for expression and a unifying force, like a bridge between cultures and continents.

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