Reggae is a music genre that arose in Jamaica in the mid-60s from the fusion of Ska, Mento and Calypso with Blues and R&B. Compared to Ska, the rhythm is slower and the themes include social issues. That is how the Rocksteady arose, whose characteristics were then emphasized and perfected by actual reggae. The first representatives of the genre were the Wailers, led by future reggae legend Bob Marley, the Upsetters and The Maytals, who in 1968, with the song Do The Reggay, gave the name to the genre. In the early 70s, the Rastafarian political-religious movement played a key role in the music, claiming the recovery of cultural and national dignity for Africans. Following this impulse, original reggae experienced a deep change both in the rhythmic aspect and in its content. In the years that followed the independence from the U.K. – achieved in 1962 – the economic and social situation in Jamaica worsened. Reggae therefore started giving voice to the people’s protests, embodying the principles of the Rasta religion. During the 70s, the genre spread thanks to albums like Burnin’ (1973), Natty Dread (1975) and Exodus (1977) by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legalize it (1976) by Peter Tosh and The harder they come (1972) by Jimmy Cliff. Bob Marley became a symbol of hope for an entire ethnic group, the religion was conveyed through the musical notes, just like the fight for equality.
The success was so big that the genre expanded its influence on folk, rock and dance music. Artists like Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton produced hits in reggae style. Reggae embodies the hope for a better world, without racist ideologies and the division between first-class and second-class citizens. The songs speak about poverty, slavery, apartheid and human rights. Reggae is not only a music genre; it became a music to support the fight against oppression. Reggae reached its utmost success in the 70s and on a smaller scale the following decade. Nowadays it still has a very wide public.