Reggae music is an engaged musical genre. It is very famous and at the same time not so well-known. Most of the people think of Reggae music as music of joy, peace and linked to Jamaica, the sunny island where everyone smokes herb freely. But in fact, we will see that Reggae inscribes itself in a whole social movement. First, it claims religious and social demands, and with the years, it became more and more politicized. We shall first examine the origins of Reggae music, where such a genre takes its roots and how it emerged and progressed to be so famous around the world. Then, we will study the main religious messages it gives, through the different singers who are mainly Rastafarians. But Reggae music is still very present nowadays, and through the cliches, we will see how this genre can still be engaged and what its demands are in the 21st century. Reggae music originated in Jamaica in the early 60's. In the streets and ghettos of Kingston, shortly after independence from Britain in 1962, reggae started to evolve from Mento, which was a local form of Jamaican music in the 30's to what it has become today.
[...] Whereas in the 1960s Rastas were perceived negatively, in the 1970s they became more of a positive cultural force, contributing to Jamaica's art and music (especially reggae). In the late 1970s, one reggae musician in particular, Bob Marley, came to symbolize Rasta values and beliefs. But, more than this, Marley played a catalytic role in the Rastafarian movement worldwide. His popularity ensured a diverse audience for Rasta messages and concepts, and his music captured the essence of Rasta ideologies. Rastafarians came to the United States in large numbers as a result of the general migration of Jamaicans in the 1970s. [...]
[...] This event drew widespread attention to the incompetence of the Selassie Regime, which had left Ethiopia's peasantry impoverished, uneducated, untrained in military service, and entirely unprepared for war. Moreover, Jamaica's economic crisis continued to worsen. Black workers, plagued by malnutrition and poor wages, turned to practical action as opposed to religion as a form of resistance. Spurred on by these developments, the Rastafarian movement became increasingly politicized. During the 1940s and 1950s, leaders intensified their opposition to the colonial state by defying the police and organizing illegal street marches. [...]
[...] ] if Europe is for Europeans, then Africa is for the black people of the world." After spending nearly a decade in the United States and Great Britain, Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1927, where he spread his political views among the black working class. He told Black people to "look to Africa for the crowning of a king to know that your redemption is near."11 In 1930, Prince Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned the new Emperor of Ethiopia. Upon his coronation, he claimed for himself the title of Emperor Haile Selassie I. [...]
[...] Around 1968, Ska and Rock Steady merged together to give birth to Reggae Music as we know it today. The instruments in reggae are mainly the drum and bass which make up the rhythm section.; the band is complete when there is a rhythmic guitar scratch or piano hitting on the off beat. After those three instruments, there are often horns, especially in roots and ska. Bongos are also very common. The different styles of reggae, like dancehall, roots, or lovers rock, may sound very different through tempo, instruments and message, but the foundation remains the same. [...]
[...] He becomes First Minister and Rastas call him After a short time of improvement, Jamaica is in crisis again, because of the international debt which absorbs more than 64% of the budget in 2003-2004 (only for education and for health services). Debt became perpetual. Nowadays, reggae music is still engaged, for this cause: it denunciates the situation of Jamaica. A CD and a documentary (by S. Black) were recently made on the subject, both called “Life and Debt” We notice that Reggae music has always mainly been a protest genre, engaged at the same time for social improvement and for religious beliefs. With time of course, the [...]
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