The Story of Jamaican Music

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Jamaican music

Jamaican music is colourful, vibrant and historic. It evolved from mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall, and a few other popular genres of music.

Mento is related to reggae and ska music due to its early roots. Mento typically includes acoustic guitars, banjos, hand drums, and the rhumba box – a large mbira that can be sat on and played. Rhumba box carries the bass element of music.

Mento typically consists of acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and rhumba box to play music. The bass drum is the main part of music.


Ska was a genre of Jamaican music in the 1950s that came before rocksteady and reggae. Ska is a musical genre which combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues.

The first ever Ska recording was made by Count Ossie, a Nyabhingi drummer from the Rastafarian community. In the 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre in Jamaica and was highly popular within skinhead culture.

DJs (disk jockeys) and singing

With the rise of ska, deejays such as Sir Lord Comedian, King Stitt and pioneer Count Matchuki became more popular, because they started talking in the style of popular lyrics over the ska beat. The DJ is the one who speaks in Jamaican music and the selector is one who chooses the records. The advent of DJs with their portable music systems led to the use of instrumental songs at events, as well as instrumental versions of popular songs.

King Tubby and Lee Perry began doing this in the late 1960s. Taking part in this music festival was soon full of debauchery and vulgarity. Over time, toast performances became increasingly complex and as much as the beats played in the background.


Rocksteady was the music of the typical ruffians of Jamaica in the 1960s, when The Wailers and The Clarendonians were dominating the charts. Desmond Dekker’s song “007” made this new music genre famous.

The introduction emphasized the deep bassline, as opposed to ska’s ska horn section and the rhythm guitar began on the strong upbeat. Session musicians like Soul Vendors, Supersonics, Jets and Jackie Mittoo became well-known in the early 1980s.

Roots of Reggae-the 70s

Reggae in the mid-sixties emerged as a reinterpretation of American rhythm and blues. Reggae music became popular because international artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were successful. Marley was considered a Rastafarian messianic figure.

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