10 Best Reggae Artists
It is hard to narrow down the 10 best reggae artists, but the list must include the must-know names from the reggae movement. Jamaica is most famous for its musical style, reggae. Reggae music is associated with the Rastafarian movement and its number one singer, Bob Marley. However, reggae has been brought forward by many great artists.
- Bob Marley (1945 – 1981). Born Robert Nesta Marley in 1945, his mother was a black Jamaican and his father was a white Englishman. He began to build the sound that he eventually became world famous for in his early teens. His musical partner at this time was Bunny Wailer. Songs like "No Woman No Cry" became anthems in the 60s and 70s, and many people today still identify with Marley’s message.
- Dennis Brown (1957 – 1999). Brown grew up on Orange Street in Kingston, Jamaica’s musical core. Most of the great reggae recording studios were inches from Brown’s door. He was a prolific musician, working over 30 years in the business. He is most famous for his song "revolution. He recorded more than 75 albums over his career and has the prestigious title of Bob Marley’s favorite singer! Marley dubbed Brown ‘The Crown Prince of Reggae’.
- Peter Tosh (1944 – 1987). Tosh was actually born Winston Hubert McIntosh. He was the defining guitarist of classic reggae, playing in the band Wailing Wailers. Tosh was raised in Trench town, Jamaica. He acquired the nickname Stepping Razor (after the song by Joe Higgs) due to his cumbersome height of 6 foot 4 inches, and his fiery temper and sarcastic wit. Everybody probably remembers the song "Legalize IT".
- Marcia Griffiths (1949 - ). Although reggae seems to be dominated by male artists, the genre itself is equally indulgent of male and female singers. Marcia Griffiths is the most famous female Jamaican artist and performed with some of the most respected musicians of her time, including Bob Marley. Her forte in dark velvety love songs like "Electric Bootie" earned her crown as the Queen of reggae.
- Jimmy Cliff (1948 - ). Cliff is known for fusing Ska and reggae as in his song "Many Rivers To Cross". Cliff’s music went down well with mainstream listeners and he is perhaps best recognized for his cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" featured on the classic 1993 film Cool Runnings.
- Sizzla (1976 - ). Miguel Collins was born August Town area of Kingstown, Jamaica. His music was culturally conscious from the start and audiences responded to this genuine expression of the times, causing him to become one of the most commercially successful reggae artist. Sizzla’s music is not without controversy. He is one of several artists whose lyrics, like the one in "Be Strong", are believed to incite anti-homosexual violence.
- U-Roy (1942 - ). Ewart Beckford was unable to pronounce his name, mispronouncing it as U-Roy, and the name stuck. Known as ‘The Originator’, U-Roy was probably the best-known ‘toaster’ of his time with songs like "Natty Rebel". The toasting movement came out of a DJ taking a reggae piece of music and then talking jive over it. This improv style allowed musicians a much greater degree of social flexibility with regards to discussing the up-to-date topic of the day, and became hugely successful.
- Yellowman (1956 - ). Winston Foster is the given name of Yellowman. His name is synonymous with 80s Jamaican reggae and songs like "Morning Ride". Foster’s name comes from being born an albino. His albums are hugely successful and he has out-sold every reggae artist (except Bob Marley).
- Garnett Silk (1966 – 1994). Born in Manchester, Jamaica, Garnet Smith’s modern style of reggae took the rough edge that his predecessors had employed so successfully. Silk’s style was smokey and smooth (hence the name Silk) just like in his song "It's Growing" and he was hailed as a rising star in the 80s. Smith died in a house fire.
- Mutabaruka (1952 - ). This artist from Rae Town, Jamaica helped redefine reggae with his dub/rhythm poetry, known as meta-dub. He is associated with the Black Power movement of the 60s and his music is strongly revolutionary like for example his song "I Am De Man".