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What You Talking About You Don’t Like The Reggae Beat What You Talking About You Don’t Like The Reggae Beat


What You Talking About You Don’t Like The Reggae Beat

Written by: Cary Greeley

Discover the irresistible charm of the reggae beat and explore why it's loved by music enthusiasts worldwide. Immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythms and infectious melodies that define the reggae genre.

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Table of Contents


Reggae music, with its infectious beats and soulful melodies, has captivated audiences around the world for decades. Emerging from Jamaica in the late 1960s, reggae has not only become a symbol of the island nation but has also made a significant impact on music worldwide. Its unique blend of rhythm, lyrics, and cultural influence has made it a genre that continues to resonate with people of all backgrounds.

Rooted in the social and political climate of Jamaica, reggae evolved as a form of expression for the oppressed and marginalized. Through its powerful lyrics and uplifting melodies, it gave a voice to those who sought social justice and equality. From its humble beginnings in the streets of Kingston to global recognition, reggae has become an integral part of music history.

Reggae is not just music; it is a lifestyle and a philosophy that transcends borders. It embodies the spirit of love, peace, and unity, promoting messages of hope, spirituality, and social consciousness. The rhythmic patterns and distinctive sounds of reggae beats have become recognizable worldwide. From the iconic bass lines to the syncopated guitar strums and the melodic accentuation of the off-beat, reggae music has a unique and unmistakable sound.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of reggae, exploring its history, evolution, characteristics, and its impact on other genres. We will also examine some of the most influential reggae artists and songs, as well as the criticisms and controversies surrounding the genre. So, sit back, relax, and let the reggae beat transport you to a world of rhythm and positive vibes!


Understanding Reggae Music

Reggae music, as a genre, is known for its distinctive rhythm and lyrical content. It originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s and was heavily influenced by various music styles, including ska, rocksteady, and mento. Reggae music is deeply rooted in the history and culture of Jamaica, reflecting the struggles, triumphs, and everyday life of its people.

At the heart of reggae music is the rhythm, characterized by a steady, hypnotic beat that often emphasizes the off-beat. This unique rhythm is achieved using instruments such as the bass guitar, drums, keyboard, and guitar. The bass guitar usually takes center stage, providing a deep, grooving foundation for the rest of the instruments.

Lyrically, reggae music covers a wide range of topics, from social and political commentary to love, spirituality, and personal experiences. It is often used as a platform for musicians to express their views on social issues, injustice, and the quest for freedom. The lyrics can be uplifting and inspirational, promoting unity and positivity, or they can be introspective and reflective, delving into personal struggles and emotions.

One of the key elements of reggae music is the use of patois, a Jamaican dialect, in the lyrics. Patois adds an authentic and cultural flavor to the songs, allowing listeners to experience the true essence of Jamaica. However, many reggae artists also incorporate English into their lyrics, making the songs accessible to a wider audience.

Reggae music is not confined to just one sound or style. It has diversified over the years, giving rise to different subgenres such as roots reggae, dancehall, dub, and reggae fusion. Each subgenre has its own unique characteristics and influences, catering to a variety of musical tastes.

Furthermore, reggae music has become a global phenomenon, transcending borders and reaching people from all walks of life. Its universal message of unity, love, and social consciousness resonates with audiences worldwide, making reggae a powerful and influential genre with a lasting impact.

In the next section, we will explore the evolution of reggae beats, tracing its roots and the pivotal moments that shaped its sound.


The Evolution of Reggae Beats

The evolution of reggae beats can be traced back to the vibrant music scene of Jamaica in the 1960s. It was during this time that a fusion of musical styles gave birth to what would become known as reggae. The early precursor to reggae was ska, a lively and uptempo genre that incorporated elements of Caribbean mento and American R&B.

Ska featured energetic rhythms driven by the guitar, piano, and brass instruments, creating a vibrant and upbeat sound. As the 1960s progressed, ska gradually transitioned into rocksteady, a slower and more soulful genre. Rocksteady emphasized the bassline and added a laid-back groove to the music.

It was from the foundation of rocksteady that reggae began to emerge. Musicians in Jamaica, particularly in the studios of Kingston, started experimenting with the rhythm and enhancing the syncopated off-beat accents. This rhythmic shift, along with the incorporation of elements of traditional African drumming and Jamaican mento music, laid the groundwork for what would become the signature sound of reggae beats.

The development of reggae beats was also influenced by the emergence of dub music in the 1970s. Dub, pioneered by artists like Lee “Scratch” Perry and King Tubby, focused on remixing and manipulating existing reggae tracks. The emphasis on heavy basslines, echoing effects, and instrumental arrangements in dub played a crucial role in shaping the unique sound of reggae beats.

As reggae gained popularity both in Jamaica and internationally, subgenres such as roots reggae and dancehall emerged. Roots reggae maintained the essence of the original reggae sound, with lyrics often addressing social and political issues. Dancehall, on the other hand, infused reggae with elements of hip-hop, electronic music, and R&B, resulting in a more energetic and dance-oriented style.

Over the years, reggae beats have continued to evolve, incorporating influences from various genres and embracing new technologies. Today, reggae fusion blends reggae with elements of pop, rock, and even EDM, reaching wider audiences and adapting to contemporary music trends.

The evolution of reggae beats not only reflects the creativity and innovation of Jamaican musicians but also demonstrates how the genre continues to stay relevant and influential. Its infectious rhythms and soulful melodies have left an indelible mark on the world of music, captivating listeners and inspiring artists across the globe.

In the next section, we will delve into the characteristics that define reggae beats, making them instantly recognizable and universally loved.


Characteristics of Reggae Beats

Reggae beats are instantly recognizable for their distinctive characteristics, which set them apart from other music genres. These unique features contribute to the infectious and irresistible groove that reggae is known for. Here are some of the key characteristics of reggae beats:

  1. Off-beat emphasis: One of the most defining elements of reggae beats is the accentuation of the off-beat. Unlike many other genres that emphasize the downbeat, reggae emphasizes the second and fourth beats of a measure. This creates a laid-back and syncopated feel, giving reggae its characteristic “skank” rhythm.
  2. Bassline prominence: In reggae, the bass guitar plays a vital role in driving the music forward. The bassline often provides a repetitive and grooving foundation, complementing the off-beat rhythm and creating a deep and resonant sound that pulsates throughout the music.
  3. Choppy guitar chords: The guitar in reggae often employs a distinctive choppy style, playing short and staccato chords on the off-beat. This technique adds to the rhythmic complexity and creates a sense of anticipation, enhancing the overall groove of the music.
  4. Drum and percussion patterns: Reggae beats feature a combination of drum and percussion patterns that enhance the rhythmic complexity and add texture to the music. The drums provide a steady and pulsating rhythm, often emphasizing the snare drum on the off-beat. Percussion instruments like congas and tambourine are also commonly used to add depth and accentuate the groove.
  5. Horns and brass section: Traditional reggae often incorporates a brass section, including trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. The horns play melodic lines, adding a rich and vibrant layer to the music. This brass section contributes to the uplifting and celebratory feel of reggae beats.
  6. Piano and keyboard elements: Keyboards and pianos play an important role in the arrangement of reggae music. They provide melodic and harmonic support, adding depth and filling the spaces between the guitar, bass, and horns. The use of organ, in particular, is a common feature in reggae, giving the music a distinct and soulful sound.

These characteristics collectively give reggae beats their distinctive sound, creating a captivating and infectious rhythm that is hard to resist. It is the combination of these elements that makes reggae music so universally loved and enduring.

Next, we will explore some of the most influential reggae artists and songs that have left an indelible mark on the genre.


Popular Reggae Artists and Songs

Reggae music has been shaped and influenced by a multitude of talented artists who have brought their unique styles and messages to the genre. These artists have left an indelible mark on reggae, creating timeless songs that are celebrated and loved by fans worldwide. Here are some of the most popular reggae artists and iconic songs that have become synonymous with the genre:

  1. Bob Marley: No discussion about reggae would be complete without mentioning the legendary Bob Marley. Known as the “King of Reggae,” Marley was a pioneer and global ambassador for the genre. His socially conscious lyrics, smooth vocals, and infectious melodies resonated with audiences worldwide. Iconic songs like “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Redemption Song,” and “No Woman, No Cry” continue to be beloved classics that define reggae music.
  2. Peter Tosh: Peter Tosh, a founding member of the Wailers alongside Bob Marley, also had a significant impact on reggae. His powerful vocals and thought-provoking lyrics made him a prominent figure in the genre. Songs like “Legalize It,” “Equal Rights,” and “Johnny B. Goode” showcased Tosh’s musical prowess and his unwavering dedication to justice and equality.
  3. Jimmy Cliff: Jimmy Cliff’s contribution to reggae cannot be understated. With his soulful voice and captivating stage presence, Cliff brought reggae to international attention. His classic hits such as “Many Rivers to Cross,” “The Harder They Come,” and “Sitting in Limbo” showcase his immense talent and ability to convey heartfelt emotions through his music.
  4. Toots and The Maytals: Toots and The Maytals, led by Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, were instrumental in popularizing reggae music globally. With their energetic performances and catchy songs, they achieved widespread recognition. Tracks like “Pressure Drop,” “Funky Kingston,” and “54-46 That’s My Number” have become staples of reggae music and continue to captivate audiences worldwide.
  5. Burning Spear: Winston Rodney, also known as Burning Spear, is hailed for his powerful vocals and socially conscious lyrics. His deep baritone voice and the spiritual essence of his music resonated with listeners. Songs like “Marcus Garvey,” “Slavery Days,” and “Jah No Dead” solidified Burning Spear’s place as one of reggae’s most influential artists.
  6. Other notable artists: In addition to the aforementioned legends, there are many other notable reggae artists who have made significant contributions to the genre. These include Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Steel Pulse, Third World, Max Romeo, and Damian Marley, among others.

The songs created by these artists have not only become timeless classics but have also helped shape the trajectory of reggae music. Their incredible musical talents, meaningful lyrics, and contributions to the genre continue to inspire generations of reggae artists and fans alike.

In the next section, we will explore how reggae’s influence has extended beyond its own genre, impacting and merging with other music styles.


The Influence of Reggae on Other Genres

Reggae music’s impact is not limited to its own genre; it has permeated and influenced a multitude of other musical styles. The infectious rhythms, soulful melodies, and powerful messages of reggae have found their way into various genres, creating unique fusions and new avenues for artistic expression. Here are some of the ways reggae has influenced other genres:

  1. Ska and Rocksteady: The immediate successors to reggae, ska and rocksteady, owe their existence to the early sounds of reggae. Ska emerged from reggae’s upbeat and energetic style, incorporating elements of jazz and R&B. Similarly, rocksteady built upon the slowed-down groove of reggae, emphasizing the bassline and creating a smoother sound.
  2. Punk and New Wave: Reggae’s influence on punk and new wave music in the late 1970s and early 1980s cannot be understated. Bands like The Clash, The Police, and The Specials incorporated reggae rhythms and themes into their music, creating a unique fusion of genres. The political and social commentary of reggae resonated with the rebellious spirit of punk, resulting in a powerful and impactful musical movement.
  3. Hip-Hop and Rap: Reggae’s influence on hip-hop and rap can be heard in the use of its rhythms, samples, and even the vocal delivery. Numerous hip-hop artists, such as Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, and The Fugees, have sampled reggae songs and incorporated reggae-inspired beats into their music, solidifying the connection between the two genres.
  4. Pop and R&B: Reggae’s laid-back grooves and feel-good vibes have made their way into mainstream pop and R&B music. Artists like Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and Jason Mraz have embraced reggae elements in their songs, infusing their music with a tropical and reggae-inspired sound. This crossover has helped expose reggae to a wider audience and further its influence.
  5. Electronic and EDM: Reggae’s rhythmic patterns and bass-heavy nature have found a natural home in electronic and EDM genres. Artists and producers experiment with reggae-inspired beats and incorporate elements of dub and dancehall into their compositions, creating a fusion of electronic and reggae sounds that excite dancefloors worldwide.
  6. World Music: Reggae’s universal appeal and message of unity have made it a significant influence on world music. Musicians from various cultures, such as Alpha Blondy from Ivory Coast and Manu Chao from France, have embraced reggae’s groove and infused it with their own cultural flavors, resulting in unforgettable collaborations and cross-cultural musical exchanges.

The influence of reggae on these genres proves its versatility and ability to adapt and connect with different musical styles. Reggae’s infectious rhythms and positive vibrations continue to inspire artists across genres, creating new and exciting musical landscapes.

In the next section, we will explore the incorporation of reggae beats in modern music and how this has helped keep the spirit of reggae alive.


Reggae Beats in Modern Music

Reggae beats have found their way into modern music, transcending time and continuing to influence contemporary artists across various genres. The infectious rhythm and laid-back groove of reggae have become a popular sound that adds a unique flavor to modern compositions. Here are some ways reggae beats are incorporated into modern music:

  1. Pop and Dancehall: Many pop artists incorporate elements of reggae and dancehall into their music, infusing their songs with an upbeat and tropical vibe. Artists like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber have embraced reggae-infused beats and incorporated dancehall rhythms, creating catchy pop hits that resonate with a wide audience.
  2. Hip-Hop and R&B: Reggae beats have become a staple in the production of hip-hop and R&B tracks. Producers often sample reggae songs or create new beats inspired by reggae’s distinctive sound. Artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Rihanna have all utilized reggae-infused beats in their songs, adding a unique flavor to their music.
  3. Indie and Alternative: In the realm of indie and alternative music, reggae beats have been integrated to create a more eclectic and diverse sound. Bands like Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, and The xx have incorporated elements of reggae, infusing their music with a fresh and vibrant energy that sets them apart from traditional rock or indie styles.
  4. Electronic Music: Reggae’s deep basslines and infectious rhythms have found a natural home in electronic music genres such as dubstep, drum and bass, and tropical house. Producers in these genres experiment with reggae-inspired beats, creating energetic and danceable tracks that incorporate elements of reggae’s unique sound.
  5. Reggae Fusion: Some artists have taken reggae beats and merged them with other genres, creating a fusion of styles. This blending of genres allows for a creative and innovative approach to reggae, infusing it with elements of rock, funk, jazz, and even classical music. Artists like Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, and Matisyahu are known for their reggae fusion sound.
  6. Global Music Collaborations: Reggae beats have become a common thread in global music collaborations, transcending borders and bringing artists from different cultures together. Collaborations between reggae artists and musicians from other genres create a cross-pollination of sounds, resulting in exciting and unique musical expressions.

The incorporation of reggae beats in modern music ensures that the spirit of reggae remains alive and vibrant. Its infectious rhythms continue to inspire creativity and allow for the exploration of new musical landscapes and collaborations.

In the next section, we will delve into some of the criticisms and controversies surrounding reggae as a genre.


Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding Reggae

While reggae music has had a significant impact on the global music scene and a widespread following, it is not without its criticisms and controversies. Here are some of the key criticisms and controversies surrounding the genre:

  1. Homophobia and Anti-LGBTQ+ Sentiments: Reggae has faced backlash and criticism for the presence of homophobic and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in some of its lyrics. Certain reggae artists, particularly in the dancehall subgenre, have been known to promote homophobic views, which has generated controversy and led to calls for artists to be held accountable for their lyrics.
  2. Sexism and Misogyny: Like many other music genres, reggae has been criticized for misogynistic lyrics and the objectification of women. Some reggae songs and artists have perpetuated harmful stereotypes and reinforced gender inequality, sparking debates about the responsibility of musicians in promoting positive messages and challenging harmful norms.
  3. Religious Controversies: Reggae, particularly with its roots in Rastafari culture, has faced criticism and controversy due to its religious beliefs and practices. The association of reggae with cannabis use, as well as the perceived cultural appropriation of Rastafarian symbols and practices, has generated discussions and debates regarding the representation and misinterpretation of Rastafari within the genre.
  4. Commercialization and Dilution: The commercial success of reggae has led to accusations of dilution and commercialization of the genre. Some argue that reggae has lost its authenticity and message as it has been co-opted by mainstream music, leading to watered-down versions of the sound, lyrics, and cultural significance that reggae once encompassed.
  5. Political Controversies: Reggae music has always had a strong social and political voice. However, it has also faced criticism for being too focused on nostalgia and not addressing contemporary social issues. Some argue that reggae has become stagnant in terms of its political and social commentary, failing to adapt to changing times and address new issues that affect society.
  6. Anti-establishment and Radicalism: Reggae’s association with counterculture and resistance to authority has sometimes led to accusations of promoting radical ideologies. While the genre has a long history of advocating for social justice and empowerment, critics argue that reggae’s anti-establishment stance can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted.

It is important to address these criticisms and controversies within the context of reggae’s rich and diverse history. Acknowledging and engaging in open dialogue can help promote understanding, inclusivity, and positive change within the genre.

Now, let’s summarize the key points discussed in this article.



Reggae music, with its infectious rhythms, soulful melodies, and powerful messages, has carved a special place in the hearts of music lovers worldwide. Emerging from the social and political climate of Jamaica, reggae grew into a powerful means of self-expression and a vehicle for social change. Its distinctive characteristics, including off-beat emphasis, prominent basslines, and choppy guitar chords, give reggae its unique and recognizable sound.

Over the years, reggae has influenced and merged with various genres, such as ska, punk, hip-hop, pop, and electronic music. Reggae’s impact extends beyond its own genre, creating new fusions and collaborations that continue to push the boundaries of musical creativity.

While reggae has garnered acclaim and a devoted following, it has also faced criticisms and controversies. Issues such as homophobia, sexism, religious debates, commercialization, and political stagnation have sparked discussions about the genre’s social responsibility and cultural representation.

Nevertheless, reggae remains a powerful force in the music industry, inspiring generations of artists and spreading messages of love, unity, and social consciousness. It continues to evolve and adapt to contemporary music trends, ensuring its relevance in the modern music landscape.

As we conclude this article, let’s appreciate reggae as more than just music. It is a reflection of the struggles and triumphs of a vibrant culture. It is a call for social justice and a celebration of the human spirit. So, let the reggae beat guide you on a journey of rhythm, positivity, and cultural significance.