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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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No one can quite agree on the origin of the word term reggae. Some say that it comes from the Jamaican dancing style known as “ray gay” while others attribute it to a 1968 recording by Toots and the Maytals called “Do the Raggay”. What is undisputed is the fact that reggae took off in the late 1960’s and still remains one of the most popular genres of world music. Jimmy Cliff brought international attention to the music with his lead role in the 1972 film “The Harder They Come”. Cliff performed several hits on the powerhouse soundtrack, including the title track, as well as “You Can Get It (If You Really Want)”, and “Many Rivers to Cross”. Bob Marley took the foundation that Cliff laid and built on it with his unique style of roots reggae, which dealt with love, social injustice, politics and Rastafarianism, the Afro-Caribbean spiritual movement of which Marley was a devoted follower. Anthems such as “Get Up, Stand Up”, “Buffalo Soldiers” and “War” made pointed political statements, while “Turn Your Lights Down”, “Waiting in Vain” and “Is This Love” showcased the mellow, romantic side of Marley and his group, The Wailers. Ironically, Bob Marley did not receive as much acclaim for his music while he was alive as much as he has since his death from cancer in 1981. Since then, however, he has become the most well known name in reggae and his songs have been responsible for introducing many to the genre. Reggae’s Transformation In the 1970’s, producers such as Lee Perry and King Tubby began adding electronic sound effects to the music and DJ’s began “toasting”, or talking over the music to create what is known as dub music. Dub music is recognized by many as the basis for rap and hip-hop in New York. While DJ’s and producers were speeding the music up, crooners such as Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor arrived on the scene to slow things down with lover’s rock, a soulful style that deals with love and relationships.