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The Power of Reggae: The Influence and Impact of Jamaican music on the World 

Alaina Hull

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Reggae Music

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Origin of Reggae Music

The history of Reggae music dates back to the late 1960’s when it made its maiden venture in Kingston, Jamaica. The music genre made its presence felt almost all over the world within a decade of its origin. Focusing on promoting Pan Africanism, it incorporates various elements from other music genres like rhythm, mento, jazz, and blues. Musical instruments like bass guitar, piano, drum kit, synthesiser, and electric organ, just to mention a few, are played along with the music to make it as lively as possible. Today, the term Reggae is used to denote any popular Jamaican dance music. The authentic form of this music is one of the major sources of income for the island country.

Effect of Jamaican Music on Europe

Modernists or working-class people began to cut their hair close, appearing fashionable like the crew of the music band. At night, they dressed up in their best attire and visited Black night clubs and dance halls to dance to Afro-American music and early Reggae along with Jamaican rude boys. This street culture, in turn, initiated the skinhead movement.

The Power of Reggae: The Influence and Impact of Jamaican music on the World

Reggae music also had a strong impact on the punk movement. This was partly initiated by Don Letts, a London based black young man of Jamaican descent. He introduced the genre at The Roxy Nightclub in London where he was a DJ. This had a great influence on British punk bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash. The bands started mixing their punk rhythms with Reggae. Although both genres were completely different from a musical point of view, they started propagating the idea of rebelling against the set norms and the establishment to open the doors to freedom.

Effect of Jamaican Music on the USA

Like Europe, Reggae music had a major impact on the American music scene. The primary influence was on rap music. The 1960’s saw a multitude of Jamaican migrants making South Bronx in New York their base. However, they never lost contact with their home country and made frequent trips to their home island. Thus, when artists like U Roy and Big Youth introduced toasting, a genre derived from Reggae in Jamaica between the 1960’s and 1970’s, the migrants brought it over to New York and infused the same with popular American urban elements. This gave birth to two new genres – hip-hop culture and rap music. Interestingly, it was the Jamaican DJ Kool Herc who had moved over to South Bronx in 1967 who introduced rap music.

Very soon, Reggae and hip-hop cultures began to share a cultural relationship with each other. Both of them portrayed the lifestyle of the blacks and protested against the establishment. For years, artists like Public Enemy, Afrikaa Bambaataa, Burning Spear, and Big Youth have been depicting the social injustice experienced by the blacks in both the USA and Jamaica through their rap, toasting and Reggae music. These artists also rebelled against Eurocentrism while fighting for Pan-Africanism.

Effect of Jamaican Music on Africa

As the Jamaican population is mainly of African descent, it is no surprise that Reggae music has a great impact on Africa and has a heavy influence on early African musical forms. Most singers continue to pay tribute to their motherland, Africa, through their songs. One of them was the well-known singer Bob Marley who created a sensation in the continent in 1979 with his albums Zimbabwe and Africa United. He is credited with enhancing the rave for this music in Zimbabwe. Africans could associate themselves with Jamaicans for more than one reason; mostly because of being black, oppressed by the whites and living in very harsh conditions.

The Power of Reggae: The Influence and Impact of Jamaican music on the World

 

The West African country Cote d’Ivoire is one of the key places in Africa that has been widely influenced by Reggae. This music genre has been widely adopted as the medium to pinpoint the various atrocities in the country such as colonialism and neo-colonialism, corruption, tribalism, political manoeuvres and plunder of natural resources. A good example of this is ‘Bloodshed in Africa’ – an African Reggae song produced in 1986 by Alpha Blondy. Today, this music is very popular in South Africa.

Other places that support reggae

For nearly thirty years, most French people have patronised Rastafarian ideology and lifestyle leading to Reggae becoming an integral part of the French musical world. Recently, this music played a key role in redefining the British electronic music scene by incorporating the remix technique with Jamaican music to give birth to musical genres such as drum and bass, trip-hop and jungle.

The Power of Reggae: The Influence and Impact of Jamaican music on the World

 

Brazil in Latin America is credited with developing samba-reggae in the early 1980’s following the influence of this wonderful music. The surrounding areas of Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Panama have welcomed this genre since the beginning of 2000. The Aborigines, Kanaks, and Maoris of Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand respectively have also accepted the music wholeheartedly. This is primarily because they have also faced colonialism and enslavement like the Africans and Jamaicans. In Asia, Rastafarianism and Reggae music is very popular in Japan while it is equally welcomed in the South American countries of Guyana and Venezuela.

Conclusion

The influence of Reggae in various parts of the world cannot be overemphasized. Ever since its evolution, it has been gaining popularity day by day and is considered a revolutionary music genre. In today’s world, the one-of-a-kind four-beat rhythm music has become an international style with unique influences on different social and music genres. Although the music has undergone various modifications, the Rastafarian influence has not undergone any change and inspires a global audience. It explores the various economic, political and social injustices through a narrative style of music.

The Rasta colours related to the genre also became an inspiration for the fashion sector. Soon after the immense popularity of Reggae music, dance steps began to be developed to match the genre. Most artists patronising this music have started their careers in the United Kingdom. Thus, it is no wonder why the source of inspiration of many European artists and bands is from Jamaica followed by the Caribbean community based in Europe.

The commitment to deliver knowledge and information to the world is a duty that one should not take lightly; it is one that I do not take lightly. Equipped with 10 years of professional writing experience, and even more so of "scribbling in a journal", I aim to provide in-depth, accurate and expeditious news and information. "Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air."- Henry Anatole Grunwald [email protected]

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Jamaican Patois: 50 Jamaican Dialect Phrases and Their English Translations

Alaina Hull

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Jamaican Patois: 50 Jamaican Dialect Phrases and Their English Translations

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What is Jamaican Patois?

Jamaican Patois is a language spoken in the country and by the majority of the Jamaican diaspora spread throughout the world. It is an English dialect with a very strong influence on the local language. It is also known as the Jamaican Creole language in which English, the primary language, is layered with a single, or multiple Jamaican local languages.

Origin of Patois

The Jamaican Patois is an English Creole language that derives most of its words and the entire slang from a West African language named Akan.

Patois is largely spoken in Jamaica and among Jamaicans in the diaspora. It derives its major influence and origin from the Akan language. The Akan language is popularly spoken in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. With the advent of English culture, English became the primary language over which the Jamaican Patois is built on, and it came to be widely used by people of the land.

Jamaican Patois: 50 Jamaican Dialect Phrases and Their English Translations

The Jamaican Patois might sound quite unfamiliar to a newcomer because it is a mix of English, African and Spanish. The origin of the language began with colonisations over the centuries and gradually evolved to widespread adoption of this local language. While Patios is prominently spoken by Jamaicans, English is regarded as the official language. The citizens are capable of speaking the Standard Jamaican English, known as SJE, which tourists and people who come to Jamaica for various other purposes can easily understand.

As the official language of Jamaica, English is used in all government institutions and educational syllabi making it easier for the locals and visitors alike.

Fifty (50) Jamaican Phrases and Their English Translation

For a person who has just landed in Jamaica, Patois might feel pretty much like English but you may not be able to fully understand it because of the local slang and the mixture of languages. However, with this helpful guide and Apps out there, it should be easy to get a hang of what the Jamaicans want to convey with their unique way of speaking.

Weh yuh ah seh? – What are you saying?

Inna di morrows – See you later/tomorrow

Duppy Conqueror – A brave person

Mash up – Damaged or destroyed

Bless Up – Best wishes

Mi Soon Come – I will be right back/there

Nyam – Eat

Jamrock, Jamdown, Yard – Jamaica

Yardie, Yard man – Jamaican

Bredren (male), Sistren (female) – Friend

Big up, Respect – Well Done!

Sell off, Tun up, Wicked – Excellent!

Whappen?/Wah yuh a seh? – What’s up?

Mi deh yah/Everytingcriss – Everything is good

Wah Gwaan? – What’s going on?

Mi deh yah, yuh know – Everything is ok/I’m doing well

Obeah – Black Magic

Lickkle more –Goodbye/See you later

Madda/Fadda- Mother/Father

Chaka-Chaka – Poor quality/disorganized

Raggamuffin – Street-wise/tough guy

Kick Up Rumpus – Having a good time!

Likkle more/Walk good – See you later!

Zeen – I understand

Ova deh – Over there

Wha yuh deh pon? – What are you up to?

Mi nuh biznizz – I don’t care

Badmind – Jealous

Fling – Throw

De Party Tun Up – The party was great

Jeezum Pees!– Exclamation similar to ‘Oh My God!’

Nuh romp wid mi! – Don’t mess with me!

Small up yuhself – Move Over

Passa Passa – Mix Up

A long time mi nuh si yuh – I haven’t seen you in a while

Mi name… – My name is…

Mi deh… – I am…

Weh yuh come from? – Where are you from?

Gud mawnin – Good morning

Mi nuh kno – I don’t know

Mi nuh undastan – I don’t understand

Yuh talk Patwah? – Do you speak Patois?

Weh de bawtroom deh? – Where’s the toilet/bathroom?

Merri crissmuss! – Merry Christmas!

Call di police! – Call the police!

Move from ya suh!- Get away from here!

Fiah! – Fire!

Galang! – Leave me alone!

Gweh! – Go away!

Mi luv yuh – I love you

Making Life Easier in Jamaica with Patois

While locals can understand and speak Patois as well as the English language, newcomers, tourists and those visiting the country for work may take some time to understand what the people are talking about. The Android store has an App that instantly translates the Patois into English for easy understanding and it can also help people reply in an authentic manner.

Jamaican Patois: 50 Jamaican Dialect Phrases and Their English Translations

Compared to how English sounds, the local slang is very expressive and colorful. Instead of spelling out the words or using the grammar, the people may just blurt them out as sounds. For a local, it will be very easy to understand but if you spend a couple of days or live long enough in Jamaica, it will be obvious that all the sounds are actual English phrases in one way or the other even though pronounced differently because the languages are mixed into one another.

Simple Guide to Understand Jamaican Patois

The advantage of visiting the beautiful island of Jamaica is that the official language is English. When you come across locals speaking a different dialect, there is always a way to have it cleared by your local tour guide or someone helping you out in understanding the location or situation.

With smartphones, traveling is easier than ever as there are dedicated Android and iOS apps to help you translate the Jamaican Patois into English. You can even capture the voice to translate it on-the-go. Besides, all the instructions and manuals are found in English. The Jamaican government offices use the official English language making it easier for outsiders to communicate instead of having to learn Patois in a few days.

Jamaican Patois: 50 Jamaican Dialect Phrases and Their English Translations

Give the 50 Jamaican dialect phrases a glance along with their English translations. Most of them are phrases that you should be able to make use of during a visit or stay in Jamaica. It also helps to communicate with the locals in a much easier manner. Besides, it’s also fun to learn something new because the Creole language based on English is a completely new experience when compared to learning an altogether different language.

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What’s in a Name?- Most Popular Names That Simply Have to be Jamaican

Alaina Hull

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What’s in a Name?- Most Popular Names That Simply Have to be Jamaican

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Origin of Jamaican Names

Jamaican culture is highly influenced by African and European backgrounds. Yet, when it comes to Jamaican names, the people of the country opt for names with their origins being from English and Spanish backgrounds. So, it is not uncommon to find people with names that are popular in these backgrounds. Names such as Nicolas and Dawn were much preferred over African names. The names also trace their roots to names of places, fiction, religion, colours, mythology, the elements of nature, and more.

However, throughout the generations, various other trends of choosing names began to show up among Jamaicans while naming their children. One such drift showed Jamaicans selecting names for their children from among names of popular American pop idols. Also, since Jamaicans traced their roots to several countries, it was not uncommon to find people who had surnames from these places.

Rules for Choosing Jamaican Names

Three basic rules are usually followed when it comes to selecting Jamaican names, irrespective of whether it is for boys or girls. These rules are as given below.

  1. It must be possible to pronounce the name properly without changing the way it is said originally. Jamaicans are very particular about the original name not getting destroyed and resulting in a new name altogether.
  2. Jamaicans like choosing unique names for their children. One way they do this is to opt for a name that is a combination of the names of both parents.
  3. Children are expected to be able to spell their names from a very young age. It is thus not surprising that Jamaicans choose names that the child can spell even when he or she is just three years old. So, Jamaican names are usually very simple and can be split into syllables if the name has more than five letters.

What’s in a Name?- Most Popular Names That Simply Have to be Jamaican

Some Male and Female Jamaican Names With Their Meanings

The list of names given here is not comprehensive. It is a list of some of the typical Jamaican names that you can consider if you are looking for a name for your boy or girl.

Ade (Boy) – Royal

Bembe (Boy) – Prophet

Chike (Boy) – Talented

Ekon (Boy) – Strong

Imo (Boy) – Knowledge

Jevaun (Boy) – Young warrior

Amoy (Girl) – Beautiful Goddess

Chandice (Girl) – Very talented and smart

Dada (Girl) -Curly haired child

Imani (Boy) – Faith

Kaleisha (Girl) –Strong-willed

Latoria (Girl) -Victorious one

During the period 1970 to 2000, there were quite a few Jamaican names that were popular over others. Some of them are:

Boys                                                                                                                      Girls

Delroy                                                                                                                   Jennifer

Mark                                                                                                                     Cynthia

Gary                                                                                                                      Tamara

Kevin                                                                                                                     Sharon

Paul                                                                                                                       Marlene

Nigel                                                                                                                     Kimberly

Nicknames in Jamaica

It may be interesting to note that almost everyone in Jamaica has a nickname. This practice has been going on for generations now. In many cases, nicknames have stuck to people till their end. As a result, these people have always been known only by these names. Like the normal Jamaican names, some standard nicknames have been in use for a long time.

These are some such nicknames that Jamaicans have used in the past and continue to do so. While most nicknames are irrespective of gender, some of them are gender-based.

Biggs or Bigga – A fat person

Cutie – A pretty girl

Stamma – A person who stutters while talking

Killer – Someone who is great at whatever he or she does

Screw Face – Someone who is always frowning or frowns a lot

Ticker – A muscular man

Lippo – A person with thick lips

Chin – A person who has oriental features

Red – A person with light skin complexion

Bready – A bread vendor

Jamaican Naming Trends Today

Jamaican names usually have two parts associated with it – the actual name and a family name. One trend followed is to name the person based on the occasion or the day of his or her birth. Jamaicans also tend to follow the Akan language tradition of naming their children in the order of birth. This is because they firmly believe that a person’s personality depends on the order, situation or day of his or her birth.

What’s in a Name?- Most Popular Names That Simply Have to be Jamaican

In some cases, a person may have a middle name apart from the actual name and family name. This middle name is often personal and is usually the name of an ancestor or it can be a name that indicates that the child is a twin.

Like the practice in most other cultures, Jamaican names for girls are based on various characteristics that are related to beauty and positive traits. These traits form a part of the name given to the girl child. The widely chosen positive traits comprise royalty, liveliness, and happiness to mention just a few. It is common to see girls’ names also include those traits associated with a Goddess, a queen or a princess.

Conclusion

Jamaicans give serious consideration to various factors when selecting a name. This is because the name is intended to be the same throughout the lifetime of a person. When choosing a name for their child, it is ideal for parents to opt for one that is appropriate throughout the lifecycle of the person starting from infancy to old age. They usually come up with names that the person will not be teased about by others or feel bad about at any point in time in their lives.

You may opt for names that others will be able to spell and pronounce easily so that it does not get misinterpreted. Last but not least, Jamaicans have started using the World Wide Web for new names. There are various websites available that are exclusively dedicated to helping you find many traditional and trendy Jamaican names for both your boy or girl. When you consider all these factors, you may be able to arrive at a name that you like and also one that best suits your child.

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What is Dancehall: Understanding the Jamaican Dancehall culture and its impact globally

Alaina Hull

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Jamaican Dancehall

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What is Jamaican Dancehall Music?

The rich cultural heritage of Jamaica is reflected in a lot of different fields such as cuisine, culture, and obviously, music! While Reggae is one of the most popular genres and widely known to Jamaican as well as international audience, Dancehall, which came into the scene in the late 1970’s, is unique besides being enjoyable on its own terms.

Origin of Dancehall

The word ‘Dancehall’ was coined in the early to mid-1970’s. However, it took time for this Jamaican music to gain popularity and it rose to fame in the 1980’s while becoming widely adopted in the 1990’s. If you have been wondering why it was called Dancehall, it is pretty much as straightforward as the words themselves may indicate.

Instead of being confined to a small space, DJs across the island would set up large speakers and music mixing systems in open streets or large spaces where a lot of people could gather. Besides being a culturally indicative kind of music, it also helped a lot of deejays rise to fame in Jamaica and also in the worldwide arena.

What is Dancehall: Understanding the Jamaican Dancehall culture and its impact globally

Dancehall artistes such as Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Buju Banton and Elephant Man have managed to make it to the international stage and have become well-known among Dancehall music lovers around the world.

What to Look for When it Comes to Enjoying Dancehall Music

Every genre of music has its own nuances. Be it rock, pop, hip-hop or reggae, there is something the audience loves in it that makes it so popular in the first place. The same goes for Dancehall which is enjoyable and refreshing on many fronts.

  • At the beginning of these songs, it may have a soothing jazz-like emotional vibe before it jumps into something more frantic and compelling.
  • Remixing some of the popular songs by making them slow and fuzzy or super fast is part of the dancehall culture.
  • It is commonly known as the ‘riddim’, which is a rhythm that a producer creates on top of which deejays will showcase their talent with different lyrics and additional instruments.
  • You will find that the lyrics are repetitive in most songs and sometimes aren’t easy to connect but for the young people of Jamaica, new songs keep entertaining them throughout the year irrespective of the kind of lyrics used in them.
  • Dancehall music is very popular in the international scene and when popular artists like Nicki Minaj, Eminem or WizKid add their musical touch to it, it sets the path for a whole new song that is great fun.
  • This kind of music has also led to the evolution of several new dance types. They often have strange names such as Wheelchair, Breadfruit, LOL, Kreech, among others.

How is Dancehall Different from Reggae?

From a simple perspective, both Dancehall and Reggae music reflect the culture of Jamaicans, their love for music and other artistic practices that have been carried through the years in the form of music. However, Reggae is a genre which was popularised by iconic people like Bob Marley, and Peter Tosh whereas Dancehall is considered more modern and “peppier” with beats that young people love.

What is Dancehall: Understanding the Jamaican Dancehall culture and its impact globally

Reggae originated back in the 1960’s from Jamaican Mento, a folk music style of Jamaica. It comprises of acoustics and music instruments inspired by the Afro culture whereas Dancehall was an underground genre made up of thumping beats, fast riddims and are more of on-the-spot compositions than using recorded music.

When it was purely underground, late-night performances, the songs comprised of plenty of rude words and sexual remarks called ‘slack’. But it gradually evolved to be more conscious of the world we live in. The international scene also changed the way deejays created their songs to make it easier to reach a wider audience, not just the people living in Jamaica.

If you like to make an easier comparison, Dancehall is a dubstep/EDM kind of thumping music with deep bass, fast rhythms and loud music designed for large parties to dance to. Reggae, or Root Reggae as musicians call it, is mellow, feel-good music that you can enjoy while searching for your inner peace. The best part is, both these polar opposites of musical compositions emerged from the same roots and it is seen as the rebellious take, an expression of oneself on modern day issues in a louder, angrier tone.

Dancehall and its Impact on the International Scene

The first big achievement for the loud and crowd-loved Jamaican Dancehall music was when King Yellowman released his first album in the United States in 1982. Yellowman continued to leave a mark in the international community paving way for lots of younger artists to reach the spotlight in the 90’s and the 2000’s.

The list continued in the 2000’s when artists like Elephant Man, Mavado, Popcaan and Alkaline among many others continued to dominate the international scene in the past two decades. There are many female Dancehall performers that also found their own spot in the international music scene!

Performers like Lady Saw, Spice, Shenseea, Stefflon Don are some female artistes that have seen hits on the local and international scene. And, when we talk about the international music scene, these people managed to find an audience of their own in the US, UK, Europe, and other continents with compelling Dancehall music that will keep the riddim going for years. The songs created by popular deejays even found their way into some movies and games like Grand Theft Auto IV that stands proof to the fact that Dancehall has come a long way from its roots in Jamaica to impress the worldwide audience.

What is Dancehall: Understanding the Jamaican Dancehall culture and its impact globally

 

International music companies and producers in a recent interview suggested that better nurturing of talent in Kingston could help Dancehall music reach more international audience through services like Apple Music and Spotify. International music lovers also expect creative new additions as they listen to both Reggae and Dancehall. Offering new music rhythms and bringing young talent to the foreground will definitely cement the popularity of the genre for decades to come, especially when youngsters around the globe love Dancehall for what it already is.

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