On Reggae

April 20, 2017

20 April is starting to be considered a holiday in the West, with a most peculiar way of celebration. On this very day we protest against criminalisation or praise the policies that legalise marihuana, depending on your location. Most of the partakers group together in parks, nature, or at home to crumble, roll, lick, light and pass the dutchie to the left hand side. These chillings are typically accompanied by reggae music, and the link between the two is evident to everyone who once curled his or her lips around the tip of a spliff. 


In celebration of 4/20 one man stands out, musically. That man is Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley. Bob overshadows reggae history as well as the future, with many contemporary reggae artists struggling to get rid of constantly being compared to him. Moreover, many famous reggae artists spring from his fame: the Wailers (his former band), Peter Tosh (a former member of the Wailers), Ziggy and Damian Marley (two of his sons), and Skip Marley (his grandson). Any reggae aficionado, however, will tell you that outside the Marley-realm, there is a lot of good reggae (being) made too.


[ Bush Doctor (full album) - Peter Tosh, 1978 ] 


Even outside of Jamaica reggae has found its ways. Because of the colonial past, many Jamaicans migrated to England in the 1950s and 1960s. Ska, rocksteady, and reggae found their way to the British island to ultimately sprout famous groups like Musical Youth and UB40 in Birmingham. Via the pop charts it soon spread to continental Europe, with for instance Doe Maar in the Netherlands. Because of its clash with different cultures, new variants arose like the activist punk-ska/reggae of Ska-P and Dubioza Kolektiv, or the beatbox works by Dub FX. Nowadays it developed into electronic genres such as dub(step) and drum ‘n bass, while “real reggae” is also still being made and coexists. 


Whatever kind of reggae you listen to on 4/20, the vibe will probably be chill. If you don’t know any, try Bob Marley’s Babylon By Bus or Peter Tosh’s Bush Doctor then go enjoy the weather and don’t forget to light it every now and then.





Legalize it 
Don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it


                 - Peter Tosh


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