Roots reggae is spiritual music that appeals to the consciousness of the listener since most, if not all, of the tracks, communicate about issues that afflict society. To this end, the music addresses injustices, honoring God, love, police brutality, consumerism, and general societal subjects. Fundamentally, roots reggae is designed to educate the masses on various matters that affect the community, which is a critical element of society. Further, the music genre enables performers to provide advice to their target audience on issues mention in their pieces. In other words, the songs are designed to prick the consciousness of the listener and spur them into action against the vices mentioned. It is important to state that roots reggae is a lifestyle, which should be reflected in other facets of an individual’s lifestyle. Most importantly, roots reggae fulfills a spiritual role, especially in the Rastafarian religion, which illustrates the importance of the genre. Therefore, religious influence is central to the development of roots reggae since the pieces are designed to exalt God and his greatness that is evident in a number of the melodies. Additionally, roots reggae is laced with a political message, since the music is designed to fight political oppression and racial injustices as exemplified by numerous pieces that address the issues mentioned in the paper. Consequently, the genre has not been appreciated by many governments in the world that associate the same with criminality and rebellion that has led to banning of some tracks.Most importantly, reggae music traces its roots to the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica where most performers of the genre are based. To begin with, roots reggae started in the 1960s when locals developed a unique sound that involved mixing various beats, for example, African drumbeats. Again, the genre is associated with Africa, since proponents of the style believe in Haile Sellasie, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, which has influenced the style. The influence of the United States and Britain is also vital since most artists have a link with the said nations, mostly historically. Evidently, the genre is dynamic; it has evolved from rudimentary to sophisticated forms, especially with the advent of technology that has enabled contemporary musicians to create unique sounds.
It is imperative to discuss the style employed by roots reggae musicians that can be described as a mix of American rock and African beats that are played actively. The rhythm is both slow and fast depending on the artist, which influences other sub-genres in roots reggae. Notably, the genre is associated with people of African descent, which means that some aspects of the music trace their origin to the continent. The presence of drums is an apt example of African influence since the instrument is widely employed in the region. Drums are a central element of reggae music, which gives it a unique feel.
Equally, individual musicians have played a critical role in popularizing roots reggae that includes Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Culture, and Burning Spear. Notably, roots reggae musicians espouse certain ideals in their lifestyles that include being righteous. On an individual level, spotting dreadlocks is a personal decision, even though the same is important due to spiritual connotations associated with the long hair. However, the role of Bob Marley in championing the genre cannot be gainsaid, which should be analyzed in depth. Notably, Bob Marley is arguably one of the best musicians in the world due to his influence and popularity. Marley was able to transform roots reggae from a little-known genre to a famous international style. In fact, Marley traveled the world to perform roots reggae, which enhanced the awareness of the same in the world.
The analysis of the pieces mentioned above is essential that include “Legalize” It by Peter Tosh. The song is characterized by drumbeats, which are performed slowly. Socially, the song calls for the recognition of cannabis sativa by governments in the world. Again, “Africa Unite” by Bob Marley is another piece that is sang using slow notes with its primary message being African unity. Further, “Get Up Stand Up” by Marley is another melody that is characterized by fast beats, which advises people to resist oppression. “Equal Rights” by Peter Tosh encompasses strong drumbeats that advocate for equality in the world. “Concrete Jungle” by Bob Marley is another musical piece, which is a mixture of rock and African rhythms, which discourages rapid urbanization that affects social structures. “Firehouse Rock” by the Wailing Sounds employs several instruments that include drums and guitars to develop a fast-paced beat, which is culturally influenced by the Black community to address injustices faced by the group that was inspired by colonialism and slavery, especially in America. “The Sun” by Burning Spear is another popular song; it is characterized by fast beats, especially the drumbeats. Importantly, the artist addresses social issues that conform to main themes in roots reggae.
Recently, Damian Marley a son of Bob Marley developed “Welcome to Jam Rock,” which is a fast-paced jam that is characterized by intense drumbeats that advocate consciousness. “Mr. Cop” is a song created by Peter Tosh, which has utilized low-paced beats that addresses police brutality in the society by raising pertinent ethical questions. The song is designed to challenge law enforcers to avoid brutality. Concerning love, “Shine Eye Gal” by Black Uhuru is also a piece that utilizes fast-paced beats, which discusses love. “54- 46 Was My Number” by Toots, and the Maytals is a combination of both rock and African rhythms that revolves around love from a social context. “One Love” by Peter Tosh is another hit song that advocates for togetherness among the races of the world. Importantly, the musical pieces mentioned have strong social messages that are designed to educate the public on critical issues that affect the community on a daily basis. Fortunately, the songs have had a primary effect on the audiences, since the pieces have been well received by fans around the globe. Notably, the songs have been targeted at the Black community that resonates with the message in music.
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