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The Story of Reggae – Roots

Written by on January 27, 2019

Roots Reggae truly put Jamaican music on the map as a bona fide protest movement. Rastas were so despised within polite Jamaican society that at one point the police      were under orders to shoot them first and question them after. The most famous           Jamaican in the country’s history is Bob Marley, Rastaman and figurehead of the roots movement. Roots music is big, It’s loved by all types of people across the globe.

Ten years on from Independence, and Jamaica’s people began to notice
they were worse instead of better off. The island was gripped by unemployment, crime and violence, and as so many of the emerging generation of Jamaicans, who had         grown up with Independence, were victims of this, they reacted with the most potent   weapon at their disposal – music. As the 1970s unfolded, subject matter changed to    give voice to the protests the people wanted to express against the government, while  urging their fellow youth to stick to the path of righteousness.

Large numbers embraced Rastafari as being not only a manifestation of what they       wanted from the government – a forcefully honest doctrine of peace, love and              anti-corruption – but presenting an alternative way of living within the grinding poverty   that had become common place. They exposed the teaching of Marcus Garvey          (self-help and repatriation) to provide hope. As many musicians locked up, Rasta’s        influence over the sounds became obvious: much of Reggae’s inherent sunniness        seemed to cloud over: the bass got deeper and more pronounced; the tempo slowed    down portentously; and lyrics frequently spat fire and brimstone. It was dread!

It was also the period that saw Reggae being taken seriously by rock fans around the  world as a music that had something to say - punks in Britian adopted Roots Reggae as a big part of their soundtrack, identifying closely with its sense of alienation. During the  roots era, artists like Burning Spear, Culture, The Congoes, Big Youth, The Mighty       Diamonds, Dillinger, Tapper Zukie, Lee Perry, The Ethiopians and Max Romeo
became cultural heroes, while the roots movement’s figurehead Bob Marley became     the most famous Jamaican ever.


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