|Stylistic origins||Dancehall, reggae, lovers rock, ska, rhythm & blues, rock, ragga, contemporary R&B|
|Cultural origins||Late 1980s North America and Europe|
|Typical instruments||Bass, drums, guitar, organ, brass instrument, melodica, sampler, synthesizer, drum machine|
|Ska punk, reggae rock, reggae-pop, skatech|
|Music of Jamaica – List of reggae fusion artists|
In addition to characterizing fusions of reggae music with other genres, the term is used to describe artists who frequently switch between reggae and other genres, mainly hip hop, such as Kardinal Offishall, Sean Kingston,and Heavy D. The term is also used to describe artists who are known to deejay over instrumentals which are neither reggae nor dancehall, such as Sean Paul, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Elephant Man, Shaggy, Beenie Man, Snow, Natasja Saad, Diana King, Lily Allen, Bridgit Mendler, Delly Ranx, Dionne Bromfield and Tessanne Chin.
Although artists have been mixing reggae with other genres from as early as the early 1970s, no official term had been used to describe this practice. Artists such as UB40 were described using terms that joined the various genres they performed (e.g. reggae funk, reggae pop, reggae-disco). It was not until the late 1990s when the term was coined.
The subgenre predominantly evolved from late 1980s and early 1990s dancehall music which instrumentals or riddims contained elements from the R&B and hip hop genres. Due to this, some consider dancehall artists such as Mad Cobra, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Buju Banton and Tony Rebel as pioneers of reggae fusion. For some of these artists, such as Buju Banton, reggae fusion became a staple throughout their careers. However, reggae fusion can be traced back to before the success of these artists, as far back as the late 1970s and early 1980s, where the band Third World blazed the trail finding international success with songs such as Now That We Found Love and Try Jah Love. Therefore, Third World can be seen as arguably the original pioneers of reggae fusion leading the way for groups such as UB40 and Steel Pulse.
Although there were a few recognized reggae fusion artists in the late 80s to mid-1990s, such as the aforementioned acts in addition to others such as Sublime, Maxi Priest, Shinehead, 311, First Light, The Police and Inner Circle, their style of fusing genres was subtly done. Artists such as Diana King, Patra, Buju Banton, Ini Kamoze, Snow and Shabba Ranks followed in their footsteps, however, creating a less subtle fusion by further blending heavier Jamaican dialect as well as more hardcore and sexual lyrics in their songs. This led to a lot of crossover success for these artists with songs such as Informer and Here Comes the Hotstepper reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as topping charts all around the world. As the subgenre began to take shape, the mid to late 1990s saw artists becoming more innovative as many began to mix genres that were not similar nor typically associated with reggae, such as techno and house, leading to the subgenre gaining a more distinctive following and really beginning to grow. Ironically, however, a major contributing factor to the subgenre garnering further international prominence was due to the lack of marketability of dancehall, especially in its rawest form, in the United States. By the late 1990s, dancehall had lost its footing in the American market as while initially an appreciated novelty, it had gotten too hardcore lyrically and started using even heavier Jamaican dialect and less standard English making it harder to understand what was being said. It had also come under heavy criticism from the international markets due to the homophobic lyrical content which sought to bash, condemn and instigate violence against the act as well as those who supported or participated in the lifestyle. This led dancehall artists who were trying to break into the U.S. market, to fuse the dancehall style of toasting or deejaying over softer and predominantly pop and hip hop instrumentals as well as to diversify the content of their songs while moving away from homophobic lyrics. Traditional dancehall acts, such as Shaggy and Beenie Man experienced commercial success in the American markets with the release of their albums in 2000. Shaggy's album, Hot Shot, especially helped further propel the subgenre internationally, as his album spawned two #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel". No Doubt's 2002 massive hit album Rock Steady, with worldwide reggae fusion hits such as "Underneath it All" featuring Lady Saw and "Hey Baby" featuring Bounty Killer, further propelled the subgenres popularity to new heights. This was especially because it marked one of the first times a pop/ska punk act had made a complete reggae fusion album, since the mid-90s and opened up the genre to a new fan base as reggae fusion was, at that point, mainly utilized by reggae artists trying to break into the mainstream market and not by already established acts, such as No Doubt. Early 2000s also saw Sean Paul achieve tremendous success internationally with singles such as Baby Boy, Get Busy, Make It Clap, among many others.
In the early 90s, the evolution of reggae fusion reached another musical style in Europe by the worldwide hit of "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base. The sound was often called Euro Reggae and became a trend of Eurodance music, such as Mr. President's "Coco Jamboo", "Sweet Sweet Smile" by Tatjana, E-Rotic's "Help Me Dr. Dick", "Ole Ole Singin' Ole Ola" by Rollergirl, "Bamboleo" by Garcia, to name a few.
Growth in Jamaica
Reggae fusion has gained a strong following due to its worldwide appeal and more artists performing the subgenre. Initially not being as popular in Jamaica as it was internationally, the subgenre started to gain popularity by the mid-2000s due to its promotion by musical pundits and the fact that many artists had started remixing popular hip-hop tracks by deejaying verses on the same instrumental. Its popularity became blatantly apparent with the first reggae fusion-influenced riddim in 2005 called the "Inevitable" riddim, which featured deejays on a techno-based instrumental. Reggae fusion is now a regular staple on Jamaican radio stations, especially Zip 103 FM, in the form of singles, mixes and remixes. This has led to more reggae fusion hits being produced as well as making strong waves on the Dancehall charts in Jamaica. One such single, "Ramping Shop" (using the same instrumental of Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent") by Vybz Kartel and Spice, was one of the biggest reggae fusion hits in 2008, not to mention one of the top singles in Jamaica of that year, peaking at #1.
Its continued exposure to Jamaicans became very evident in 2009, as the summer saw an explosion of Jamaican-produced reggae fusion riddims such as "Mood Swing" (which yielded the massive breakout #1 hit "Life" by G-Whizz) and hit tracks such as "Holiday" by Ding Dong and "(From Mawning) Never Change" by Chino. Both of these songs reached the top five on the Jamaican charts, with the former track peaking at number one in December 2009 and both (along with "Life") being nominated for "Song of the Year" at the 2010 EME Music Awards (Jamaican equivalent to the Grammy Awards), which was won by "Holiday". This marked the first time a reggae fusion song had won the prestigious award since the award show's conception in 2008 as well as the first time three reggae fusion songs were nominated for the award. "Holiday" was also nominated and won for the "Best Collaboration". Since 2010, reggae fusion has become a regular component of dancehall music and is as popular as it has ever been, being incorporated in many riddims such as the popular "One Day" riddim produced by Seanizzle.
In 2011, Shaggy established a reggae fusion record label called "Ranch Entertainment'. It is intended to be launched in the summer of 2012.
Local criticism & praise
Its growth locally, however, has not come without its criticisms as some feel that the subgenre only serves to dilute the raw sound of reggae and their musical culture. This controversy was further heightened in 2012, during the Jamaica 50th anniversary campaign to celebrate the country's 50th year of independence, as two vastly different songs were recognized as 'Jamaica 50' campaign songs, one which was a reggae fusion song entitled "On a Mission" produced by Shaggy and the other a roots reggae song entitled "Find a Flag" written by Mikey Bennett. While "On A Mission" was recognized as the official anniversary song and was applauded by some, it received its fair share of negative feedback due to many questioning its inauthentic Jamaican sound. A popular dancehall artiste, Mr. Vegas spoke out against the use of the song being quoted as saying "It doesn't represent Jamaica 50, it doesn't reflect our culture or where our music is coming from".
Yet, there is no denying the impact of such acts in the propulsion of Caribbean culture to new plateaus. Even some of the most celebrated Reggae performers – Damian Marley and Buju Banton – often included Pop and R&B into their music as their careers progressed. For any genre of music to grow and remain viable, artists need to continuously adapt and modernize their music. Hence, the Reggae Fusion artists should be praised for keeping the foreign public’s interest in West Indian culture alive. In 2014, following the growth of EDM in Jamaica, legendary reggae musician Richie Stephens sought to capitalize on this by launching a new riddim called 'Skatech' which was an amalgamation of Jamaican Ska and Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Stephens believed that due to ska not being at the forefront of Jamaican music for many years, combining it with something fresh could bring it back into the spotlight. This provided a different and positive counterargument to the criticism of reggae fusion in Jamaican music, as it was here being used to bring the original forms of reggae back into the limelight, not to drown it out or dilute it as critics would posit.
Continued international popularity
Through other Caribbean-born artistes such as Sean Paul, Damian Marley, Sean Kingston and Rihanna who emerged during the mid-2000s, the popularity of the subgenre has continued to grow. Recent international reggae fusion hits, such as "Calabria" by Enur and Natasja, "Need U Bad" by Jazmine Sullivan, "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti & Spearhead featuring Cherine Anderson and "Billionaire" by Travis McCoy, shows that the subgenre has matured and is as popular as it has ever been, with more artists experimenting with it. Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin is one of the latest reggae fusion artists reaching international fame following her win on The Voice, a U.S. television singing competition. Later in 2014, Canadian reggae fusion band, Magic!, scored a worldwide number-one hit with their single "Rude". This was followed later in 2015 by another number one reggae fusion song when Jamaican artist OMI claimed the top spot with the Felix Jaehn remix to his song "Cheerleader". Also some producers have gained recognition for consistently incorporating reggae fusion into songs they produce, such as J. R. Rotem, who has produced reggae fusion hits such as Beautiful Girls, Me Love, Take You There, Replay and Solo.
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- Teri vanHorn (2001-03-30). "No Doubt Head To Jamaica To Stir Up Reggae Sound – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
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- Russell Gerlach (2009-12-17). "Jamaica's Weekly Music Countdown Charts – December 4, 2009". X.Thompson. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
- Richie B (2010-01-17). ""Holiday" and "From Mawning" earn big nominations at 2010 EME Awards". Reggaefusionlives. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
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- Reggae Fusion & Tessanne Chin
- Reggae fusion Playlist
- List of some Reggae fusion albums
- Best Reggae fusion Bands/Artists
- Reggae fusion music
- Reggae fusion songs which have been sampled
- Reggae fusion on Last.fm
- Interview with Carlos Jones, former lead singer of First Light, regarded by some as the first ever reggaefusion band
- International reggae fusion single "Calabria 2008"
- Reggae fusion mix "Girlz"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #7 single "Hideaway"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "Holiday"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #4 single "From Mawning (Never Change)"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "Life"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "Dance the Night Away"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "My Cupp"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "My Heart"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "This is How We Do it"
- Jamaican reggae fusion #1 single "Affairs of the heart"
- Twitter page which updates with new reggaefusion and dancehall music
- Youtube channel which updates with new reggaefusion, reggae and dancehall music