10 hot reggae songs for summer: NPR

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Vybz Kartel is just one of the artists performing at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay this week.

courtesy of the artist


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Vybz Kartel is just one of the artists performing at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay this week.

courtesy of the artist

Whatever your mood, contemporary reggae has a melody for you. That’s because Jamaican music is a study of contrasts: the songs range from the sacred to the secular, from the sexy to the spiritual, from searing aggressiveness to decidedly suave.

Music is generally divided into two genres. Reggae dancehall is defined by studio-produced beats (called riddims) on which performers (called toasters or DJs) chat or sing, usually in thick patois, on topics ranging from girls and guns to politics. and poverty. Roots, or conscious, reggae is more noticeably in line with Bob Marley’s sonic schooling: it typically features slower beat, live instrumentation, and melodic lyrics on love, Rastafarianism, and subjects of a other world.

But the line in the sand is not hard and fast; many artists navigate between the two genres, and many reggae tunes use elements of both styles. Below are 10 tunes from today’s most popular Jamaican artists, all performing at this week’s Reggae Sumfest – the annual gold standard of Jamaican music festivals, held in Montego Bay.


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