The warm weather finally looks as if it is here to stay. So here's a little reggae to celebrate. Reggae is meant to be enjoyed while the sun shines and heat is all around. It may make you smile, it may make you dance –and here's hoping it will make you rejoice in these beautiful May days.
1. "African Holocaust" by Steel Pulse
Steel Pulse is arguably the most prestigious reggae act to come out of Britain. It has seen incredible success since forming in 1975. Steel Pulse has many unique accomplishments, including being the first reggae band to perform during presidential inaugural events in Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the Clinton administration. The band is strictly roots reggae and has a very smooth feel. "African Holocaust" showcases the band's talent for this style of reggae and includes a catchy chorus. The song speaks of persecution against Africans, though the song is most definitely upbeat and groovin'.
2. "King Without a Crown" by Matisyahu
Matisyahu is not a typical reggae artist. He combines reggae, rock and religious messages with the occasional beat box or rap. His distinct style has given him deserved popularity in recent years. When some people see a Hasidic Jew with a full beard singing reggae, they wonder if this young man is serious. He is. He is serious about his music and about his faith. "King Without a Crown" proves this. The song is about living a life with God and allowing him to fill one's life. Matis- yahu is not simply popular because he is different; he is popular because he is good at what he does: music.
3. "Youth Dem Cold" by Richie Spice
Richie Spice is a Kingston, Jamaica-based dance-hall success from a reggae family. His siblings seem to have all found their way into the music industry, and Spice got his start with their help. He first caught the eye of reggae fans in 2000 with "Grooving My Girl" and has had his fill of popularity since then. "Youth Dem Cold" is off Spice's 2007 album "In the Streets to Africa." It speaks of young people being the future and the need to educate them.
4. "Cocody Rock" by Alpha Blondy
Alpha Blondy was born in West Africa and has been a recording artist since 1982. He was known as the Bob Marley of Africa and became a huge international reggae star. He is known not only for his music but for his great charitable contributions and dedication to fighting injustice. In 2005, he was dubbed a United Nations ambassador of peace. "Cocody Rock" is one of the most popular Alpha Blondy songs and a song everyone sings along to when he plays live. It is simple and positive.
5. "1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade)" by Third World
Third World is a very popular roots reggae group that formed in the early 1970s and is still going today. "1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade)" is from the 1977 release "96 Degrees in the Shade" and is a Third World classic. It details fighting for freedom and being victimized but having hope that one day, true freedom will come.
6. "Reggae Revolution" by Ziggy Marley
Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley as well as a Grammy-winning reggae artist. He started out in a group called the Melody Makers, composed of his siblings, before launching a solo career. "Reggae Revolution" is a song from those days with the Melody Makers. It is about youths standing up for themselves. It is certainly fun and upbeat.
7. "Fire Pon Rome" by Anthony B
Anthony B was born and raised in Jamaica, and is a fairly prominent dance-hall and reggae musician. One of his favorite artists while growing up was Peter Tosh. The influence of Tosh can be recognized in Anthony B's music, specifically in his vocal delivery. Anthony B converted to the Rastafarian faith in his teenage years, and themes of his faith can be found throughout his music, along with political commentary. "Fire Pon Rome" exhibits both of these. It is an uplifting tune and rather mellow.
8. "Chase the Devil" by Max Romeo
Max Romeo is another Jamaican in the reggae industry. He is a roots reggae artist and has his share of politically charged songs. In 1972, one of Romeo's songs was chosen as the theme song for the People's National Party in Jamaica. Though Romeo has never received the kind of popularity the others on this playlist have, "Chase the Devil" was definitely a hit. It is about chasing Satan out of Earth. It is simple enough and pretty catchy.
9. "Roots, Rock, Reggae" by Bob Marley & the Wailers
Bob Marley is by far the most prestigious and well-known reggae performer ever. He has been dead for close to three decades, yet his popularity continues. His compilation album "Legend" is still selling well today after going 10 times platinum. This man is truly legendary and will no doubt continue to spread reggae and Jamaican flavor across the world. "Roots, Rock, Reggae" is a groovy song about listening to reggae and dancing along with it. It may not be the deepest of songs, but it's perfect for soaking up the May sun.
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