“Daddy don’t touch me there, I’m gonna tell on you one day I swear. Can’t you see I’m scared you’re supposed to be my father”…IMG_3473

Hectic words hey? Imagine a sweet melody accompanying them with the hypnotic voice of Queen iAfrica reciting them. That’s reggae music for you. In apartheid South Africa, reggae music was banned because they said it makes the people rebel. I now see their point of view. Reggae sounds are founded on ethnic poetry that tells of a black man’s struggle. The genre originated in Jamaica, an island in the Caribbean that was founded to store African slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Their struggles were soothed through song with the longing of going back to Africa so they can be deemed human again. As life would have it, Jamaicans never returned to Africa, but they became. I personally believe that reggae sounds draw their origin from the African drum. Which was not only used for entertainment but also for spiritual purposes and connecting to one’s deeper self. Hence till today, the bass is what sets reggae apart.

Music is the only commodity that can really touch a person’s soul. Love is another, but you can neither hear, see nor store it. That is why a lot of principalities use music to influence people’s thinking and change the culture within the society. As with every genre, music evolves with time and reggae is no exception, rap has evolved to hip-hip, and reggae has given birth to ragga, dancehall and calypso. The lyrical content obviously varying across the board, but one thing remains fundamental: It’s the bass. Every reggae rhythm is founded on the bass, in fact it is the foundation of the song when composing the music.

This is not meant to be a musical lesson, but before I proceed, I must mention this. In Jamaica, poverty levels are extremely high and people continue to turn to music as their released. With an area of no bigger than the Gauteng province, Jamaica has about 800 recording studios. Music is the artists way of making it out of their reality, it worked for Bob Marley, and they believe it will work for them today still. Everyday there’s a new professional riddim released for anyone with confidence and skill to compose lyrics for. I will elaborate riddims another day. But the point I’m driving home is Jamaican musicians put their heart and soul into their music. You feel the passion in their voices and the strength of the composition that everyone is putting their best foot forward and wants their message to be heard.

Reggae musicians have also been doing amazing cover versions of popular R&B songs and today I would like to introduce you to some of the best ones I’ve heard. I swear, most of them sound better than the original. Perhaps this may spark an enquiry into the genre and you mat graduate to deeper works like the above quoted Queen iAfrica. I will review only 5 songs, if you have time and earphones, please do best and No, you don’t need to be anywhere near weed to enjoy the music J

  1. Busy Signal – Night Shift

This is the very first cover version I’ve ever heard and I loved it! My reggae nights were never complete without it.

  1. Tarrus Riley – Human nature

I love the original by Michael Jackson, but Tarrus definitely gives him a run for his money. A very strong vocalist this gentleman is.

  1. Baby Can I hold you – Further Notice

Made famous by the lovely Tracy Chapman, this song will never run out of fashion. Personally the regaae version takes the cup. The beat is from a riddim called Digital love (by Notice productions), and I love absolutely love every song from that beat. Chronix kills it on the “Access granted” track and Romain Virgo does the things to the beat as well.

  1. Romain Virgo – Soul Provider

Currently my favorite and more recent cover version. Romain is a fairly young artist who is taking Jamiaca by storm, he is one person who relays his true heart and soul into a song. His voice is the most genuine I’ve heard in my lifetime.

  1. One more night – Busy Signal

A real classic by the master of covers and reggae sounds. Again, I think Busy gave the original artist some notes on how he can do better. This song was big around the same time that Gyptian’s version of One more night (not a cover). Gyptian based his on the Live in Love riddim (absolute jam) and for the longest time, my heart would not be content if I hear only one sound of “One more night” so I will bless you with both.

Bonus track: Hello


I sincerely hope the music lifted your spirits up in one way or another. 2017 is the year of Jubilee, allow yourself to rejoice, there is so much good out there, choose to see and listen to it. I personally had a blessed beginning to this month of June and what better way to end it than with sweet, sweet reggae music! Joy is to be shared.

Jah Bless!

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