Criteria: This top 200 songs list contains the classic Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dancehall and Dub songs from Jamaica along with newer songs from Reggae artists in the U.K., U.S. and Africa. Rankings are based on initial and lasting popularity as well as influence and impact in Reggae music. (Note: These are Reggae songs by Reggae artists. Not the occasional reggae song recorded by non-reggae artists.)
Background: Reggae - Around 1960, in the slums of Kingston Jamaica, where the local bands were playing a musical mixture of American R&B, Caribbean, and pan-African sounds, drummers began to emphasize the afterbeat, the 2nd and 4th beats (4/4 time) in unison with the piano and guitar while the bass played walking quarter notes. The musicians called the sound "Upside-down R&B". It soon became known as "Ska". As time passed Ska slowed the beat, lost it's brass sound and morphed into "Rocksteady", performed with fewer musicians and using more harmony vocals. Around 1968 the influences of Rastafari and Africanism along with political and social unrest in Jamaica gave birth to "Reggae", with a slower, stripped-down, less "Pop-like" sound often with accents added on the 3rd beat. Today the term "Reggae" applies broadly to all the Jamaican born music that contains the original afterbeat rhythm.
Edited By: Lew
Last Updated: 2017-05-21