Music for me is therapeutic. Whenever I am sad, confused, or just need a pick-me-up, music, no matter the genre, always gets me out of my funk. I am an eclectic music lover, I love music from all genres whether Indie, Rock, Alternative, Gospel, Jazz, you name it. Once it has a good beat and good lyrics, I’m into it.
Being a Jamaican, naturally, I love Reggae. Reggae is an indigenous music Genre created in Jamaica in the 1960s, originated from Ska and Rock-steady, it is led by drum, bass, and other percussion instruments. Reggae is revered as the voice of the oppressed, the voice of the Ghetto, and tackles topics such as social and political commentary.
Reggae to me is a conscious thought-provoking genre that goes beyond face value. It seeks to question prevailing norms and believes and causes the listener to delve deeper and analyze their behaviour and seek to encourage others to rise above their shortcomings and always remember to do and be good.
There are tons of good reggae music that I love, however, I have narrowed the list down to ten songs that have moved me, songs that have gotten me through some of the most difficult time in my life. This list may be different depending on who you ask….so, without further ado…here are my picks for the ten best reggae songs of all time:
10. Sizzla – Just One of Those days
When I was growing up, you would hear this song blasting on distant radios on Sundays and Public Holidays. For some reason, I thought the title of the song was “Dry Cry”. It is a love song about a man coming to terms with the loss of his girl…“oh, my girl have left me & gone”…It has gotten me through romantically challenging times, listening to the song reminds me that I’m not the only one who may have relationship trouble, I felt comforted with that knowledge. It it reminds you that no matter how painful your current situation is, it is not the end of the world, life goes on.
This song is entertaining with clear lyrics that you can sing along to. It is beautifully written and excellently executed by a brilliant artiste
9. Garnet Silk – A Man is Just A man
When I was younger the sudden, tragic passing of Garnet Silk peeked my interest. Everyone was talking about him, so I was curious, I wanted to know who this artiste was. Coupled with that, my uncle loved him and would play his songs on a loop, so we had no choice but to learn the lyrics, at ten years old, we would be singing “what is the difference between the wise and the fool”…as if we understood. As I grew older I came to appreciate his songs, and how deep and thought provoking they are.
Garnet Silk’s songs made you think about how you were living your life and how you treated others. This is well written accompanied by beautiful music.
8. Maxi Priest – Just a Little Bit Longer
Maxi Priest is the lover of the group, this is a love song about a man wanting his lover back after taking some time apart. “You asked me for some time to clear your mind I stayed away it hurt so much”…. The music, the video treatment and the singer, makes you just rock and enjoy the music without thinking too much of the lyrics. It helps thought, that Maxi Priest is very, very good on the eyes.
7. Snow – Anything For You featuring: Nadine Sutherland, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Terror Fabulous, Louie Culture & Kulture Knox
I remember the first time I heard this song, it was in downtown Kingston, the summer of 1999. When I heard it, it stopped me in my tracks, I stood and listened until the song was finished, it took me to another world. For 4 minutes and 34 seconds, I absolutely forgot where I was. That’s the summer I really fell in love with music, good music. It was also then that I realized the power that music has.
The song is a collaboration with all the trending singers of that time, it was released in 1995, the same year that Buju Banton released till Shiloh. It was also around the same time that Beenie Man was saturating the airwaves. The song to me represents Jamaica at its creative best. It is a mixture of Reggae and Dancehall and pure magic
6. Luciano – Its Me Again Jah
Luciano is a spiritual artiste, most of his songs are geared at acknowledging a higher power. The line that reads “it’s me again Jah, as I fall on my knees today, help me God I pray, don’t wanna be carried away” is more of a prayer than anything else.
When you listen to this song, its so reverent and it puts you at peace, whatever it is that you are going through, whatever pain, hurt feels or disappointments, just melts away. You forget about yourself and your troubles and just focus on how blessed and lucky you are to be alive to praise and glorify God and to enjoy the natural beauty that is all around us.
5. Beres Hammond – Putting Up Resistance
When I was younger, I wouldn’t dear sing a Beres Hammond song in the presence of my mom. It always felt so mature and grown-up, his songs always seems so out of my league. Fast forward 15 years, I am no longer scared of my mom (who am I kidding, maybe just a little)…as an adult, I can really appreciate the amazing artist that is Beres Hammond.
Beres exudes class that is unrivaled and unmatched. He is a true musician and an excellent performer. Any Beres Hammond song will do it for me. However, I especially love this song because it encourages hard work amid hardship, roadblocks and systemic failures that seems to perpetuate the rich becoming richer and the poor remaining poorer….’No I never can understand it, the way the system plan, there’s no hope, no chance no loophole, no escape for a suffering man”.
4. Anthony B – Mr. Heartless
Every time I hear this song, it brings me to tears, it so poignant and represent the sad really of the monster that is crime that plaques the Jamaican society. It is reported on the news daily, the number of people who die, however, it never hits home until it happens to your family or someone you know.
This song speaks to criminals specifically rich men/women who pay innocent poor, desperate men to enact their crimes just to fill their pockets. However, for me this song goes beyond criminals, but speaks to regular, ordinary people who are doing wrong. It reminds them, that their judgement day, will come. It encourages evil/wrong doers to step away from their evil deeds as their actions are far reaching and wreck the lives of countless families.
3. Richie Spice – Earth A Run Red
This is another one that brings tears. It is a social commentary that tackles crime and corruption that is present in the Jamaican society. It speaks to wrong doers, urging them to desist from their evil deeds as things are hard enough and “Jah soon come”. This is evident through climate change “A revelation time, check the signs of the time, you no feel the heat”.
It encourages people to enjoy the time they have on earth and at the same time, they should be careful who they associate themselves with as people are never who they seem.
2. Bob Marley & The Wailers -War
No Reggae list can be complete without a Bob Marley song. Bob Marley has put Reggae on the map, his contribution towards Reggae and Jamaica is undeniable. As a result of this, as a Jamaican, it can sometimes feel as if we are obligated to like Bob Marley’s music. If I am honest when I was younger, I was one of those persons, I liked Bob Marley because I was supposed to, not because I genuinely related to any of his songs. So to prove to myself once and for all, if this is true, several years ago I listened to all his albums (yes I know, but did I mention that I love music?!) and War, surprisingly, resonated with me, on a deep level.
When I first heard the song, I thought it was a call to action for stymied-ed groups of people to rise up and fight. However, after listening several times more, I realized that it is a statement. Once there is the school of thought that one group or race of people is superior, “and another is inferior, then there will always be war, disagreements, riots and protests. People will always fight to be treated fairly and equally.
1. Buju Banton – Till I’m Laid to Rest
If you know me, you know! I love me some Buju! Till Shiloh was like an Ah hah moment for me. It felt like the album was made for me, it just gets me!…LOL…the entire album is a masterpiece, Murderer, Untold Stories, and the list goes on.
Buju Banton has a certain method of delivery, his raspy, deep voice brings every lyric to life. Based on his delivery, you can tell that he believes every word he is saying. He is not just mimicking words written by someone else.
I love this song because it aims to debunk the rumors or change the narrative that all things good that are worth having is found in western countries and customs. We have been led to believe that Africa and Africans are not beautiful. Buju sings about us Africans one day realizing how valued we are. Until that happens, “Til I’m laid to rest, yes always be depressed there’s no life in the West I know the East is the best”.
Reggae is a huge genre, there are numerous artists and songs to choose from. If you do not like the ones I have selected, feel free to explore the genre to figure out the ones you do like. Keep an open mind, you may be surprised what you find.