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date: 21 February 2020


  • Stephen Davis


A term denoting the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. It also refers specifically to a rhythmic format that originated in 1968, sparked a worldwide cultural trend in the 1970s, and has continued as the bedrock of the digital forms that have come to dominate Jamaican pop music.

The origins of reggae are found in Mento, Jamaica's Cuban-inflected calypso music that dates from the late 19th century. Mento was a celebratory, rural folk form that served its largely rural audience as dance music and an alternative to the hymns and adapted chanteys of local church singing. As the Jamaican population began to shift in the late 1950s, urban migration and the social changes that accompanied industrialization created a demand for a faster, electrified dance music. In the capital of Kingston and in the larger island towns, entrepreneurs set up mobile sound systems to bring in the powerful rhythm and blues of American stars like Fats Domino and Louis Jordan. By ...

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