Roots reggae is still alive! Popularity of finest and original form of reggae music has significantly decreased during the years, but there are still many musicians all around the world who are greatly fascinated by this style. Some of those bands come from Jamaica, but surprisingly most of them are actually white or mixed bands that come from Europe. Yes, their style quite resemble the original roots style from 70’s and 80’s when it comes to production and spirit of the music, but original and authentic impacts of these musicians are undeniable. In this list we decided to include bands who were formed and released their own music in any form in past five to ten years. Now let’s start!
Janine Cunningham, better known as Jah9, is a Jamaican poet and vocalist who started creating music back in 2008. She named her style as “jazz on dub”, but every roots reggae fan once it hears her music can recognize that real roots foundation is more than obvious. Confidence, wisdom and strong lyrics are what make Jah9 so special artist. She has released 2 studio albums so far, and is probably if not the, but one of the most popular female reggae vocals in the world right now. First song that launched her in the music world is the reincarnation of Roots Radics Channel one riddim from 1982 she named as “Steamers A Bubble”.
France is known as a country that nurtures reggae music as their own. I am sure not even Jamaica does it better than France. Not only they greatly support legends and already well known reggae musicians, but they have been producing some of the most popular new reggae bands by themselves. So it’s not a big surprise that three performers from France have found their way to this list. Moreover, all three are probably closest to the original 70’s roots reggae style. First band we are going to introduce is an underground roots duo called The Maât Disciples. These guys are young and have only released few singles so far, but their feeling for roots music and roots vocal harmonies are just perfect. Most of their music has been released by KA Records, that are most responsible for finest production and beautiful arrangements since all the music is played by their band called The Soul Agitators.
One of the most famous reggae artist coming from Eastern Europe is Hornsman Coyote. He has been active on reggae scene from 1991, and is most known for his collaborations with many famous artists from all around the globe, but until 4 years ago he had never released a solo album backed by a real band before. Once it happened, he gave us two strong and mighty roots reggae albums which do combine different kinds of reggae moods, but mostly it’s a military and serious style or reggae. One song that represents his style the best is “Selah”, the one that opens his latest album “Safe Planet”.
And from UK, the other country apart from France that is strongly connected to reggae music, we have a band called Dubheart. This 6-piece reggae act has been already officially recognized as the best European reggae band in 2013 by famous Rototom European Reggae Contest. Continuing with famous UK reggae style, they produce some of the heaviest, deepest and fully organic riddims you will be able to hear these days. Just listen to this heavy groove in their most popular song “Mek Wi Move” featured by Zacheous Jackson.
The other similar band from fantastic UK reggae scene worth mentioning is Resonators. They as well as Dubheart and other UK bands are directed to that deep and tight dub production, but in contrast to Dubheart, Resonators have some sweet and soft flavour added by their two main female vocals. And in contrast to most other bands from this list, their lyrical themes and vocals style are not Rastafarian directed at all, but rather are more general and comprehensive, therefore, more attractive even to those people who are not easily related to Rastafarian aspect of reggae music.
Another band which released it’s music under KA Records label is Mighty Lions. They have released only one album with 5 songs and 5 dubs so far, but the album you might want to listen over and over again. Their groove and rhythms are just that contagious. Since production and mix are done by KA Records once again, this is not a big surprise.
Highly spiritual musician, Joe Pilgrim, released his first and only solo album in 2015. All lyrical themes are heavily directed to awakening consciousness of individual regarding life, gratitude and faith. Therefore, these lyrics in combination with sweet harmonies and deep rhythms provided by band Ligerians will certainly make you question the way you live your life.
We get back to Jamaica once again with introduction of roots band Raging Fyah. These guys are on the way to become the most attractive Jamaican reggae act in the world right now, and once you hear their music, especially live music, you will understand why it’s like that. While listening to this great live performance on Audiotree, you can feel the traditional reggae spirit of great Jamaican legends such as Bob Marley, Israel Vibrations and Burning Spear.
When I say roots, strictness or militancy I actually think about Fc Apatride UTD. This band coming from Serbia is more than serious about their political messages and the way they represent their music. There is just not even slightest trace of fun in their music, so you might want to sit back and just listen carefully to what these guys have to say about the world and society you live in. You will be surprised by the sharpness and roughness of this reggae.
Last, but not least, is another band from Serbia, Irie FM. As well as Dubheart, Irie FM was winner of Rototom European Reggae Contest in 2011. They prefer a bit of faster reggae, but their lyrical themes and approach are still strictly roots. Better to say were strictly roots, because after first album and that big success on Reggae Contest they have decided to go in some other direction, so today they are not considered reggae band any more. This doesn’t change the fact that their first album is a real deal. “I Cry” is one of the most powerful songs from that album.
There are many more bands worth mentioning, such as Rebelution and Tribal Seeds from USA, Hollie Cook from UK, Sebastian Sturm and Jahcoustix from Germany, Diamusk from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Roots Rocket from Bulgaria, Conquering Lion from Macedonia and Smoke’n’Soul from Serbia. You might want to check these bands as well.
Of course, there are many many other great roots reggae bands in the world. However, our current knowledge is mainly focused on bands from Europe (since we live there), and as you can see, not even one band from USA, South America and Australia was listed. Therefore, we would like you to give us more recommendations of new roots bands and performers you like and know about. Spread the roots!