Reggae in Jamaica
Reggae developed during the mid 20th century. Its music replaced the emphasis on brass instruments to the sound of the keyboard and bass. These instruments produced slow and heavy rhythms that were hypnotic to their listeners. The United States had some influence in the formation of the Reggae sound in Jamaica. American R&B and soul music popular genres that transnational Jamaicans brought to their homeland from America. Not only did they influence the music, they also influenced the culture that came with Jamaican Reggae. The stories of the actions by the Black Power movement in the United States motivated the Jamaican nationalist movement. The lyrics were a medium of political protest, exposing the terrible conditions in Jamaican slums and the inequality amongst the classes.
During the 1970s its popularity increased internationally. This was due to the popularity of Rastafarian artists such as Bob Marley. The message was the same, but its audience increased. Reggae became on of the important means for Rastafarians to spread there message of return to the homeland of Ethiopia and rejection of western culture. As more people adapted the sound of reggae, the music started using more international symbols to appeal to their worldwide audience. Reggae was the sound used to promote the universal pan-African movement to go back home.
Reggae in New York
Jamaicans and reggae aficionados who lived in New York loved the music, but sometimes it didn’t make sense to Jamaicans back at their homeland. That was fine with them, as Barnes said that he made his music for New York. Some artists, like Jamaica-born Carlton Livingston, moved to New York, made music in New York, and still saw those songs translate to success in Jamaica. A popular song was Carl Livingston’s “100 Weight of Collie Weed”, which emphasized the relationship between drugs and reggae in New York and Jamaica. Reggae originally was associated with marijuana, leading to that slow hypnotic beat that is associated with the high that the drug gives the user.
The technology available in New York City made this city a popular place to record and produce music. There were studios in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island. One of the biggest labels, VP Records, began as a small independent label in Queens.