Reggae music was born in Jamaica in the late 1960s, but it quickly became popular all over the world. It incorporates elements of ska and rocksteady, as well as R&B, jazz, and even African rhythms. Reggae is easily recognisable by its distinctive heavy bass lines, unusual rhythms, and politically charged lyrics. In Jamaica, reggae is more than just a musical genre; it is a way of life.
In this article, we'll examine the influence of some of Jamaica's most prominent reggae record labels.
At first, we'll provide a brief history of each record label, including information like when they first began releasing music, who founded the label, who produced their earliest releases, and which artists signed with the label.
Then, we'll run down a list of some of the era's biggest hits to show how they resonated with the general public.
At last, we'll talk about the many subgenres of reggae that have been popular from the '60s to the '20s, as well as the current reggae radio and sound system deejays who are shaping the genre today.
List of the Best Jamaican Recording Studio for Reggae Music.
Tuff Gong International
In 1965, Bob Marley started Tuff Gong International. In 1970, the label began releasing records under the name "Tuff Gong," which was a play on Marley's nickname.
Albums like "Exodus," "Legend," and "Survival" from the label are among the best-selling reggae records of all time. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer were among the first to record with Tuff Gong and release their songs on the label.
The songs "Get Up, Stand Up," "No Woman, No Cry," and "One Love" were all huge hits.
The record company Island Records was founded by Chris Blackwell in 1959.
The label shot to prominence as a reggae powerhouse shortly after it began releasing records in the early '70s. Some of the most famous reggae artists ever include Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals, all of whom have had albums released by Island Records. Popular songs from this era that were played on the radio include The Harder They Come, Three Little Birds, and Redemption Song.
Vincent and Patricia Chin established VP Records in 1979.
The company expanded rapidly from its humble beginnings as a Kingston, Jamaica record store to become a global powerhouse in the reggae industry.
Some of the most well-known names in reggae music have released albums through VP Records. Untold Stories, Rockaway, and Who Am I (Sim Simma) are all chart-topping albums.
Greensleeves Records was founded in 1977 by Christopher Sedgwick and Christopher Cracknell. After starting out as a small label, the company quickly grew into a global force in the reggae industry. Greensleeves Records has released albums by some of the biggest names in reggae, including Barrington Levy, Eek-A-Mouse, and Gregory Isaacs. Hits like "Here I Come," "Police in a Helicopter," and "Night Nurse" are just a few of their many chart-toppers.
It was in 1968 that Lee Gopthal started Trojan Records. The record label was a wholly owned division of Island until it was purchased by Sanctuary Records. Albums by Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, and Toots and the Maytals, to name just a few of reggae's most well-known artists, have been released by Trojan Records. The Israelites" and "The Wall" are two notable number ones.
"Coxsone" Founded in 1954 by Clement Dodd, Studio One is an iconic recording facility. From humble beginnings as a recording studio, the company has grown to become a major player in the Jamaican reggae music industry. Studio One has released albums by some of reggae's biggest names, like Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and The Skatalites. "Simmer Down," "My Boy Lollipop," and "Marcus Garvey" were three of the most popular albums of all time.
Blood and Fire
Steve Barrow and Bob Harding started Blood and Fire in 1993. The record company has made a name for itself by reissuing albums by legendary reggae artists like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Augustus Pablo, and The Congos. "Police and Thieves," "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown," and "Fisherman" are just a few of their many chart-topping singles.
Back in 1980, Bill Nowlin and Gary Davis started up Heartbeat Records. This record company has made a name for itself by reissuing albums by legendary reggae artists like The Wailers, Burning Spear, and Dennis Brown. "Bob Marley and The Wailers Live," "Garvey's Ghost," and "Love Has Found Its Way" are just a few of their many popular albums.
Doctor Dread established Ras Records in 1981. The label has released albums by such legendary reggae artists as Black Uhuru, Culture, and Steel Pulse, all of whom specialise in roots reggae. Famous songs that became hits include "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Two Sevens Clash," and "Handsworth Revolution."
Christopher Blackwell started Mango Records in 1972. Reggae music is the label's forte, and it has released albums by legends like Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Jimmy Cliff. Catch a Fire," "Marcus Garvey," and "The Harder They Come" are all examples of successful albums.
In 1988, Donovan Germain founded Penthouse Records. The label specialises in dancehall reggae, releasing albums by artists like Buju Banton, Shabba Ranks, and Sanchez. His best-selling albums include Murderer, Champion, and Loneliness.
Xterminator Productions was founded in 1991 by Philip "Fatis" Burrell. In addition to releasing albums by Luciano, Sizzla, and Capleton, the label is well-known for their releases by other reggae greats. All three of It's Me Again Jah's albums—"Just One of Those Days," "Jah Jah City," and "It's Me Again Jah"—are massive successes.
Jammys Records was established in 1985 by Lloyd "King Jammy" James. Due to its emphasis on dancehall reggae, this record label has released music by many legendary reggae artists, including Super Cat, Junior Reid, and Tenor Saw. Some of their most well-known works include the albums and singles Under Me Sleng Teng, One Blood, and Ring the Alarm.
Bobby "Digital" Dixon founded Digital-B back in 1988. The label is well-known in the dancehall reggae community for releasing albums by artists like Shabba Ranks, Buju Banton, and Cocoa Tea. The albums Bam Bam and "Murder She Wrote" and "Tempo" are all examples of commercially successful music recordings.
Mad Professor Neil Fraser founded Ariwa Sounds in 1979. Dub and roots-oriented, the label has put out albums by reggae greats like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Horace Andy, and U-Roy. Albums like "Dreadlocks Dread," "Skylarking," and "Police and Thieves Dub" are all examples of popular dub music.
Gussie Clarke Music Group
In the 1970s, Gussie Clarke launched his own music label, aptly named the Gussie Clarke Music Group. Roots reggae pioneers like Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, and Jacob Miller have all had albums released by this label. The songs "Money in My Pocket," "Night Nurse," and "Tenement Yard" are all certified gold records.
Jah Life Records
In 1979, Hyman "Jah Life" Wright launched the groundbreaking label Jah Life Records. Albums by Johnny Osbourne, Barrington Levy, and Eek-A-Mouse, all of whom are considered to be pioneers of the roots reggae genre, have been released by this label. A trio of critically acclaimed albums, "Prison Oval Rock," "Wa-Do-Dem," and "Truths and Rights" all found success.
In the 1980s, record producer Roy Francis founded Charm Records. Popular "dancehall" artists like Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, and Bounty Killer have all had songs released by the label. There are many hit songs by them, but "Action Pack," "Gal A Watch You," and "Telephone Love" stand out.
Pete Holdsworth and Mick Hucknall established Pressure Sounds in 1995. The record company has made a name for itself by reissuing the works of reggae's most legendary artists, such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Upsetters, and Prince Far I. Popular albums like "Dubbing in the Backyard," "Blackboard Jungle," and "Message from the King" are examples of their success.
David Katz established a record company in Kingston in 2006. Reissues of albums by legendary reggae artists like The Heptones, Augustus Pablo, and Dennis Brown have been issued by the label. There are many songs by them that have reached the top of the charts, but Party Time, East of the River Nile, and Money in My Pocket stand out.
Genres of Reggae Music
Reggae has changed considerably since its inception in the '60s.
There are many subgenres within reggae music, but here are a few of the more common ones:
a form of reggae that became popular in the '60s, originated in Jamaica. Ska is defined by its upbeat tempo and brass instrumentation.
a subgenre of reggae that branched off from ska in its own right, emerged in the middle of the '60s. Rocksteady music is characterised by a slower tempo and smooth vocals.
is a genre of reggae music that gained popularity in the 1970s and is known for its heavy bass lines and politically charged lyrics.
The 1970s saw the emergence of dub, a subgenre of reggae that is characterised by a greater emphasis on instrumental tracks and studio effects.
a style of reggae that gained prominence in the '80s, is characterised by a high tempo and brash lyrics.
is a style of reggae that emerged in the 1980s, influenced by dancehall, and characterised by rapid-fire lyrics and electronic beats.
Influential Reggae Radio Hosts Sound system Deejays
Reggae music is still extremely popular worldwide, and Jamaica remains a major hub for the genre. These record labels are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many influential reggae radio and sound system deejays.
British DJ David Rodigan has been playing reggae tunes on his show for the better part of four decades. He has worked with prominent reggae labels, and his solo releases have been widely lauded.
A New York native, DJ Bobby Konders has been spinning reggae tunes for over three decades. He is widely recognised for his work with the Massive B sound system and has worked with a wide range of other well-known reggae artists.
Jamaican radio and sound system deejay Sir Coxsone has been pivotal in the development of reggae over the course of the past half-century. He created the recording studio Studio One and has worked with numerous influential people in reggae music.
Stone Love is a well-known sound system in Jamaica that has been active since the '70s. They have worked with many big names in reggae, and their remixes are legendary.
King Jammy, a Jamaican record producer and sound system deejay, is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in reggae music. His list of partners in art includes Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, and Bounty Killer.
Although reggae's influence has spread worldwide, the music's true birthplace remains Jamaica. The aforementioned record labels were crucial to the success of reggae music.
Reggae has changed significantly from its earliest incarnations in the '60s to its current form in the '20s.
Finally, modern reggae deejays on radio and in sound systems are responsible for keeping the genre alive and well. Reggae music has always been and will always be an integral part of Jamaican culture and a significant cultural force in the global music industry.
In Part 2 we will look at the foundation sound systems that brought the culture to the world.