What is reggae?

A popular and expanding music genre, reggae music originated in Jamaica. The popular artist Bob Marley claims that reggae came from the Spanish term regis, meaning “the king’s music.” It emphasizes off-beat music, often by a “rhythm guitar, piano, or synthesizer.” At first only one or two chords made up an entire song; it is often played in 4/4 time. The lyrics of reggae originally included only messages of “peace, love, positive social and family values, and culture and history.” It traditionally embraces aspects of the Rastafarian lifestyle, but some contemporary reggae artists use lyrics that debase women and “encourage crime and violence.” Those who popularized reggae worldwide included Bob Marley, Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Kackie Mittoo, and Bunny Wailer. Marley, however, has been called the music’s greatest pioneer.


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