Skrillex, Wiz Khalifa and Bob Marley are all related. No, they aren’t family, per se… but there is a musical web that features straight lines from the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley to the new distinct sounds of Skrillex’s heart-pounding dubstep and Wiz’s smooth flowing rhymes. Through the music of the Marley family, The House of Marley has assembled a brief look at the history of reggae music and it’s influence on today’s popular music.
Whether roots reggae, ska, rocksteady, dub or dancehall, these Marley tracks have consistently bred new kinds of music over the course of the past 40+ years. From hip-hop to dubstep and ska to political punk, through the history of reggae and Bob Marley, the course of music has forever changed.
Roots Reggae: Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Get Up Stand Up”
Roots reggae is best exemplified by Bob Marley’s later work. Relying heavily on bouncing bass rhythms, scratchy guitar sounds and lyrics that dealt with beliefs and political stances, the genre would be forever defined by massive hits like “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Get Up Stand Up.” The tradition of catchy music with social themes is carried on today by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Lupe Fiasco.
Ska: Bob Marley & The Wailers – “One Love/People Get Ready”
Featuring an early take on the classic “One Love” and a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” Bob Marley & The Wailers take the offbeat rhythm of rocksteady and amp up its pace in this ska classic. Following Marley and Desmond Dekker’s lead, the ska sound has gone on to be played by large selling acts like No Doubt, Sublime, The Specials and Madness.
Rocksteady: Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Rock Steady”
Recorded in the late ’60s, Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Rock Steady” is the perfect example of the song’s genre namesake. Rocksteady features less reliance on the organ than ska, and has slower tempos. Closely following the formula of hits used by Motown in the ‘60s, this R&B influenced version of reggae eventually helped breed artists like The Roots, Raphael Saadiq and Black Eyed Peas.
Dub: Bob Marley w/ U-Roy – “Small Axe”
Dub may be one of the most interesting sub-genres of reggae as producers use instrumental parts of popular reggae songs to create new spaced-out sounds. Pioneers of the genre, including King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, have had a heavy influence on the creation of dubstep. Dubstep closely follows their formula by adding reverb, echo and delay to samples. Check out the wild sounds of U-Roy mixing Bob Marley’s “Small Axe,” and tell us Skrillex and Bassnectar didn’t pick up a few things from Jamaica.
Dancehall: Damian Marley and Skrillex – “Make It Bun Dem”
A modern take on Dancehall music with a little dubstep thrown in for good measure, Damian Marley and Skrillex make a formidable duo by combining forces on the new track, “Make It Bun Dem.” Sampling a reggae organ, Damian spits fast and furious rhymes over a Skrillex mix that catapults the sounds of Jamaica into the 21st Century. Hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and The Game have found similar success by sampling dancehall for chart-topping hits.
The history of reggae music has had far-reaching effects over the years. From the birth of new music and new listeners, to new collaborations like that of Damian Marley and Skrillex, reggae music has developed into something that stretches far beyond its birthplace of Jamaica. Now the whole world is listening.