Reggae music was born on the island of Jamaica in the 1960s, evolving out of two of the country’s most popular local music styles of the time, ska and rocksteady.
In terms of its sound, reggae places rhythmic accents on the off-beat, and is generally played at a slower tempo than ska or rocksteady. Lyrically, many reggae songs feature social or political commentary, although love, community, and religion, particularly Rastafarianism, are popular themes for reggae lyrics as well.
Most listeners associate the genre of reggae very strongly with Bob Marley, one of the most influential artists that reggae has yet produced. Beginning with his band, The Wailers, in the 1960s, Marley continued to write and record some of reggae’s most definitive songs until his death in 1981. Marley hits like “I Shot the Sheriff” and “No Woman, No Cry” helped create a worldwide audience for the genre, and remain popular radio staples decades after their release. Many of Marley’s contemporaries, such as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Peter Tosh, are still active in music today.
Today, reggae remains not only a successful genre of music in itself, but has also seen its rhythmic and lyrical influence creep into other types of music, such as hip hop and rock.
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