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Music and social movement: Reggae

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Origin of reggae.
  3. The slaves in Jamaica.
    1. The disc industry in Jamaica.
    2. Disappearance of Rythm'n'Blues.
  4. Young reggae musicians and singers.
  5. The reggae group 'The Wailers'.
  6. Dj'roots and new sound techniques and its role in the evolution of reggae.
  7. The result of programs aimed at the gradual integration of blacks into white society.
  8. Conclusion.

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. [...]


[...] The reggae group was formed again and recorded discs under the Coxsone-Studio One label, and then created their own label, Waillin'Sound followed by Tuff Gong. In 1973, The Wailers went on tour in the USA and in Europe. The same year, Bob Marley began to shape his public image and became an international singer. After his death in 1980, Dj'roots and new sound techniques contributed to the evolution of the genre. U Roy was one of the first Djs, who became the new cultural mirror of excluded people, but not only. [...]

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