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What is American Reggae?

Some believe that American reggae is going to be the major force behind reggae music’American Reggaes resurgence in the near future; at the rate at which American Reggae is growing and getting better one can see why industry experts make such predictions about American Reggae music.   

But what is American Reggae really?  Honestly is there even such a thing as American Reggae?  Indeed there is such a thing as American Reggae, and it has a different flavour from Jamaican reggae and most of the other reggae music played around the globe. 


Without wanting to be, American Reggae and music industry is the main driving force behind reggae music, in fact behind music in general. They may not have the biggest reggae festivals in the world but America can not be beat on the amount of reggae shows they put on yearly. And they are growing in numbers. 


Most of the reggae lovers in America are from California.  They just love their reggae music.  And many reggae bands are based there also.  If you have a reggae based website you will already know that most of the visitors to your site are from America and most are based in California. 


American Reggae is influence by all the reggae styles from around the world but, mostly by the different genres of music in America itself. These genres include Hip Hop, Pop, Country (believe it or not), Blues, Rock, R&B, Soul, and all the other genres you can think of. If you listen to the hit song I wanna be a billionaire by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars and many of Sean Kingston’s song you will see what I mean. 


American Reggae music is fresh and modern, simply because most of those who are involved are not your typical reggae player or singer.  They come to the table with no inhibitions.  Hence, they are more willing to experiment thus, making the music ever more unique and interesting.   


American Reggae Bands 


Iration is one American Reggae Band everybody who loves reggae should be checking out.  They come from out of Hawaii (reggae by the way is probably the most popular music there) and they play some what of a reggae rock kind of music.  


Time Bomb, the bands first number-one album topped the US iTunes charts for a few weeks and relegated Bob Marley to second place.  Can you believe that?  So do yourself a favour and check them out. 


Another of the American Reggae Bands people should be checking out is Rebelution.  If you haven’t heard their hit single Feeling Alright, then you will have to go listen to it to hear what you have been missing.  They are from Santa Barbara California and have been around since 2004. 

Pepper is another good American Reggae Band.  And like Iration they are also from Hawaii.  The reggae they play is more rock influenced which is expected since they are more of a rock based band.  Check them out for a bit of variety. 


While you are at it make sure you listen to some of Sublime’s reggae songs. They are big on reggae and have been getting many rave reviews for their music. They do a mixture of reggae and rock but I prefer their reggae stuff. Have fun!  Click the link for more on how to play rock influenced american reggae other types of reggae



I want to thank Ross for his email input and constructive criticism.  Such good natured gestures are very welcome.  I have posted some of what he had to say below.  Hope it will be of benefit to you all, it was to me.  Thanks again Ross and big up where ever you are!




"Interesting site. Personally, although I play rock guitar, I tend to keep it out of my reggae, playing it only when in my view it adds to the impact and intent of the overall music. Although I'm in California, I really don't like reggae-rock or "Cali-reggae" as some call it. imho most of it has as much to do with reggae as Howdy Doody does with Haile Selassie. Most of the musicians don't really penetrate the tribal aspect of reggae or the consciousness that bonafide reggae aspires to, and it becomes punkazoidal frat-rock with a skank guitar to fool the ignorant (often, themselves) into thinking it has something to do with reggae. These guys wanna go show themselves off onstage when what they should be doing is intensively woodshedding and listening to the Studio One, Treasure Isle, Randy's, Channel One etc. Jamaican classics and really penetrating how the instruments work together to achieve a 'tribal' sound and how every instrument is really a riddim instrument. After learning that, then and ONLY then can they successfully branch out and incorporate reggae into American music, be it rock, jazz or whatever. It's what the Beatles and Rolling Stones did with the R&B and blues songs they loved. The Aggrolites, Slackers and Expanders are examples of successful American reggae. Strictly Stoopid, Pecker, the Excrementables just don't get it. Rebelution's not as bad but still has a ways to go. Anyhow, those are my sincere if opinionated takes on the state of roots reggae today, based on over 35 years of listening, playing professionally and simply loving the music and its creators. Bless up still, this is a self-admitted beginners' site, but it could be so much more. Example: you talk about the reggae 'chuck' or skank guitar, but that's certainly not the only role of guitar in reggae (although bands like the Expendables with their guitars all playing a distorted skank (poorly at that) seem to think it is). You should mention both the 'pick bass' guitar that percussively shadows or plays around the bassline, created by early JA guitar greats like Hux Brown and Lynn Tait; and the clean, melodic, fluid guitar figures typified by guitarists like Earl "Chinna" Smith and Dwight Pinkney. I hope this helps a bit."


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