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Can you guess these four myths about reggae?

In celebration of International Reggae Day this week, I sing one of my favourite songs loudly.

“Turn your lights down low, and open up your window curtains...” 

This is a line from one of my favourite reggae songs by the incomparable Robert Nesta Marley. Known as Bob the world over, Marley is recognized as the 'King of Reggae Music'. While Bob Marley is the face most people associate with the musical genre, reggae actually had its genesis in the late 1960s with plenty of talented and noteworthy pioneers.

Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Ken Boothe, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh are just some of the names that contributed to Reggae’s emergence and evolution from Ska and Rocksteady, two genres considered the precursors to Reggae.

Political strife, poverty and equal rights and justice are some of the themes closely related to the Reggae music genre. Bob Marley himself attempted to use Reggae to broker peace between Jamaica’s two political parties in 1980.

Reggae has produced many local and international stars over the years. From Dennis Brown (The Crown Prince of Reggae), Toots & The Maytals, Third World, Buju Banton, Ziggy Marley to current hitmakers such as Chronixx, Damion “Junior Gong” Marley, Protégé and the most recent Autarchii and Koffee.

As I travelled the globe for ScatteredJamaica looking for similarities and differences between Jamaica and the rest of the world, I’ve stumbled on many myths that the global population still have about Reggae music. For all it’s popularity, there are still a few lingering misunderstandings about the genre that continues to exist.

Here are four Reggae myths...

Bob Marley invented Reggae music

While Marley is the enduring face of Reggae and did burst onto the scene in the late ’60s with the Wailers, the sound that would later be called reggae was already emerging from pioneering producers and studios in the early to mid-’60s from Ska and Rocksteady. Bob Marley was the vehicle that transported Reggae music to the globe but was not the inventor. 

All Reggae artistes have dreadlocks

Locks are closely associated with Rastafari and Rastafari is closely associated with Reggae music but by no means are the two one and the same, as evidenced by Ken Boothe and Romaine Virgo.

Only Jamaicans are good at Reggae music

Reggae has become a global genre with far-reaching influences. Some of the biggest names in Reggae music on the global stage include J Boog (born in Californian with Samoan ancestry), Collie Budz (Bermuda), Alpha Blondy (Ivory Coast) and Lucky Dube (South Africa).

You have to smoke weed to enjoy Reggae

While Reggae music and marijuana use are closely related because of the latter’s prevalence in Rastafari culture, by no means is it mandatory. Anyone can find a message in Reggae music, whether it’s love, motivation or the need for a revolution.

These myths confirm Reggae’s popularity and mystique and also contribute to its evolution in the global space. 

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