The History of the Production of Reggae Music

Reggae music began in Jamaica, when artists heard New Orleans jazz over transistor radios, then slowed the rhythms to suit the hot island climate. Reggae producers were as well known as the musicians themselves; crossover from merely playing reggae to producing it was common in the insular Jamaican music scene.


The Jamaican disc jockeys and rivals Clement Dodd and Duke Reid started to record local artists in the 1950s. Dodd is widely credited with developing and popularizing ska rhythms, reggae's direct predecessor; he was the first black studio owner in Jamaica.


Lee "Scratch" Perry, an employee of Dodd's, broke out to become a producer in his own right. Perry helped to develop two of reggae's crucial styles: roots, which slowed ska's beat to a crawl, and dub, which used echoed noises and vocals to create a spooky atmosphere.


Musicians-turned-producers like Sly & Robbie and Jah Thomas helped reggae branch into new styles such as ragga and dancehall.


The way reggae was produced in the 1960s and 1970s influenced artists and producers in other genres. Rock and avant garde record producers like Bill Laswell and Brian Eno used reggae production techniques in the studio.


Reggae production has adapted hip-hop influences, resulting in international hit songs for artists like Sean Paul. Lines between reggae and rhythm and blues and rap continue to be blurred by innovative reggae producers.

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