Reggae fusion is a sub genre of reggae and as the name suggests the form is a fusion of reggae with other forms of music. Dancehall sounds are generally mixed with hip-hop, jazz, R&B or rock, the end sound is reggae fusion. The term reggae fusion is also used to describe artists that switch between Reggae and other genres such as hip-hop.
As reggae and dancehall became market specific the time was right for the creation of a subgenre that would be able to bridge the divide of cultures namely hip-hop, pop and dancehall reggae. The genre would need to identify with the American born Jamaicans and Americans that love reggae and other Genres. It would also need to identify with other cultures and their personal cultural expressions through the music. It was out of this need that reggae fusion was born.
Early Influence of Reggae Fusion
The origins of reggae fusion dates back to the early 1970s however there was no official term used to describe the practice. Artists such as UB40 described this fusion as reggae pop and reggae funk. The subgenre would continue its evolutionary process during the late 1980s into the early 1990s adopting much of the dancehall styles while mixing R&B and hip-hop, because of this fact many persons consider artists such as Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Tony Rebel, and Buju Banton to be the pioneers of reggae fusion. Artists such as Buju Banton would continue to use the musical style throughout his entire career.
Few artists were recognized as reggae fusion practitioners during the 1980s and those who did fuse reggae with other genres would do so subtly. It was not until the mid 1990s that this musical form would gain a distinct style and sound and it was then that an international interest started to grow in the music. One of the main reasons why reggae fusion became so popular was because dancehall has started to fall out of favor with the international audience due to its violent and homophobic lyrics. As dance hall adopted the hardcore form of the Jamaican dialect Jamaican artists who were seeking to break into the American market had to fuse the dancehall style with something that was softer such as pop music.
Reggae Fusion Today
By the 2000s reggae fusion had come full circles and artist such as Shaggy had two number one singles on the bill board 100 charts ‘angel’ and ‘it wasn’t me’. No doubt would go on to drop a massive reggae fusion album called Rock Steady; it featured artists such as Bounty Killer in ‘Hey Baby’ and Lady Saw in ‘underneath it all’. The album would become a worldwide success. These two songs would further propel reggae fusion to new heights thus garnering a new fan base across the world. Old and new acts such as Sean Kingston Elephant man, Shaggy and Diana King still continue to experience success in this Sub Genre of Reggae Music.
Reggae fusion makes use of most of the instruments that are used in reggae and dancehall music such as Drums Bass, Brass Instruments, and Guitar. The subgenre mixes unique sounds which require the use of a synthesizer, melodic and drum machines. Reggae fusion is geared towards a younger generation the music offers a party feel good experience that anyone can enjoy. Because the form is still so young it is difficult to say directly what its cultural impact has been. However it’s known that reggae fusion in Jamaica is geared towards the uptown youth.