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Pet Sins January 2010

The influence of reggae on world music traditions

Although reggae's more direct ancestors are Jamaican musical genres such as mento, rock steady and ska, its distant origins can be traced to African folk music.1 Since its emergence in the 1960s, reggae has cast its influence beyond its native Jamaica and become a global style adopted by performers around the world. In Panama, musicians combined reggae with hip hop and house to create reggaeton, which expanded to include Puerto Rican and Cuban styles.2

Reggae was also very popular in Africa, where many musicians incorporated reggae into their work.3 Alpha Blondy, international reggae star from Cote d'Ivoire, has incorporated West African musical elements into some of his work.4 Malian reggae artist Askia Modibo blends the music of some of Mali's ethnic groups - Songhai, Tamachek, Wassoulou, Bambara - with roots reggae.5 Sudanese singer Rasha, whose repertoire includes traditional and religious music, also fused reggae with traditional sound in her performance of Salib Fuadi.6

Prominent Algerian rai performers have incorporated reggae into their work, collaborating with reggae stars based in Europe and the Americas.7 Cheb Mami, who collaborated with musicians of the African diaspora, including Grammy-award-winning Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley (son of Bob Marley), British reggae band Aswad, and French reggae star Tonton David. Ziggy Marley performs on Track 3 'Madanite' of Cheb Mami's 2003 album "Du Sud au Nord"; Tonton David is featured on Track 10 'Fugitif' and performs on Track 11 'The best times of our lives'. 8 Khaled, who collaborated with reggae greats Rita Marley (widow of Bob Marley), reggae matriarch Marcia Griffith and noted Jamaican saxaphonist Dean Fraser in his 1997 album "Sahra". 9

Jamaican reggae musicians also reached out across the Atlantic. U-Roy featured rai singer Cheb Aissa in his 2001 album "Serious Matter".10

Asian music has met reggae in the form of bhangramuffin, a fusion of bhangra and ragamuffin pioneered by Apache Indian, Simon & Diamond, British musicians of Indian descent.11 Apache Indian (aka Steven Kapur), who won the Best Male Newcomer British Reggae Industry Awards in 1992, has toured with Jamaican reggae star Sean Paul.12


  1. MSN Encarta entry on reggae
  2. Reggaeton History on Reggaetonfever.com
  3. Reggae in Africa on rootsworld.com
  4. Alpha Blondy on reggae-reviews.com
    Reggae in Africa on rootsworld.com
  5. Askia Modibo on africasounds.com
  6. Rasha on Calabashmusic.com
    Rasha's album Sudaniyat
  7. When rai meets reggae (on rfi)
  8. Wikipedia entry on Cheb Mami
  9. Sahra on J&R
  10. U-Roy discography (on unitedreggae.com)
  11. Apache Indian on indianetzone.com
  12. Apache Indian on indianetzone.com