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Reggae

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Reggae is a style of popular music that originated in Jamaica. It is characterised by strong basslines and a loose drum pattern that emphasises the off-beats. Reggae music was the first and most successful example of 'world' music, ie regional music from a developing country that is embraced by mainstream western culture, due to the influence of Caribbean immigrant communities in Britain and particularly the immense popularity of Bob Marley. Many reggae musicians are associated with the Rastafari religion, but many are Christian or non-religious as well.

Reggae first became globally popular in the 1960s and 1970s, and since then it has had an influence on many non-Jamaican musicians, notably the Police and UB40 but also, to varying degrees, numerous rock, pop and hip-hop artists. For example, the Strokes have never recorded a reggae song but some songs such as Last Nite have an off-beat feel that could be said to show a certain reggae influence. In hip-hop, artists such as Busta Rhymes and Foxy Brown have often collaborated with reggae and dancehall artists.

Reggae has also had great influence on music production. Beginning in the 1970s, reggae producers such as Lee Perry began to experiment with studio equipment to produce alternative versions of reggae recordings, often taking out most of the vocals, emphasising the drums and bass guitar and adding echoes and sound effects. This practice, which predated remixing in other forms of music by at least ten years, gave rise to a subgenre known as dub reggae and continues to be a strong influence on the spookier, less dance-oriented subgenres of electronic music such as trip-hop and dubstep.

Beginning in the 1980s and early 1990s, the influence of hip-hop came the other way and many reggae songs now feature rapped rather than sung vocals and electronic beats; this musical hybrid is known as dancehall.

The lyrical content of reggae music has been wide-ranging ever since the genre emerged, covering love songs, social issues, comic songs and everyday life. Many reggae singers adopt a strong Jamaican accent and use the vocabulary that goes with it ('Jah' for 'God' and 'irie' for 'happy' are common examples), usually because they are in fact Jamaican, but sometimes non-Jamaicans attempt to ape the Caribbean patois as a stylistic choice or an homage to their musical idols.

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