Hey mon, this week we’re taking a trip to Jamaica to learn about the most influential man in the genre of reggae: Bob Marley!
The term “reggae” was coined around 1960 in Jamaica to describe the “ragged style of dance music.” Reggae acquired the syncopated beat and chanting styles, while also being influenced by African drumming and New Orleans rhythm and blues. Although the term was originally created in Jamaica, the style really has no Jamaican influence; most of it comes from the United States and Africa. Reggae is basically the opposite of Rock n’ Roll because it inverts the role of bass and guitar.
Many of the early reggae artists of the 1970’s incorporated their religion, Rastafarianism, into their music. This religion is very common among Jamaican people who are of African descent. The traditions and beliefs of the Rastafarians can be heard in many reggae songs. One of the main themes of these songs is the use of marijuana. In Rastafarianism, marijuana is used as a sacrament to bring a person closer to God and open their mind to receive his testimonies. Unfortunately, many teenagers throughout the decades have used this music as an excuse to smoke marijuana without knowing the true reason it is in these songs.
One of the most famous artists, whose name is synonymous with reggae music, is Robert Nesta Marley. Bob Marley was born in 1945 in Jamaica, and grew up being teased about his mixed heritage. His father was white, but he was not in Marley’s life. He supported the family financially, but later died when Bob was only 10 years old. With Marley’s hardships, he dropped out of high school and began pursuing a career in music. He joined his friend, known as Bunny Wailer, and one other man to create a band named “The Wailers.” In 1973, The Wailers were signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island label, and released two albums. Bob Marley became an icon of the international music scene after Eric Clapton recorded a cover of one of Marley’s most famous songs, “I Shot the Sheriff.”
Marley became famous in the United States in 1976, when “Rastaman Vibrations” was number eight on the Billboard top 200 chart. During the same year, there was a lot of political turmoil going on in Jamaica, so Marley decided to get involved. Unfortunately, he and his wife were injured in a night-time gun raid, but escaped with minor wounds. He left Jamaica for safety issues and started recording two new albums. One of his new albums, “Exodus,” was named the “best album of the 20th century” by Time Magazine. While his musical career was growing with success, Marley was suffering from a malignant form of cancer. Unfortunately, Bob Marley passed away in February of 1981at the age of 36. Bob Marley’s music is still very popular today, and you can’t walk into a music store without seeing a few iconic photos of Bob Marley on posters.