Ska and reggae are distinguishable

Ska logo.
Ska logo.

Ska logo.

By Rafael Velasquez |Staff Writer|

The terms “reggae” and “ska” are often interchanged to denote similar genres in the 21st Century, but they are quite distinct.

The average reggae listener will often refer to Bob Marley while the average ska listener will often refer to Sublime as the most influential artists in both genres.

They are both very influential, but there were other artists who were even more responsible for the foundations of ska and reggae.

Ska is “a modern style of vocalized Jamaican popular music, which emerged in the ’50s as a blend of African-Jamaican folk music, calypso, and American rhythm and blues, notable for its shuffling, scratch-like tempo, and jazz-like horn riffs on the offbeat,” according to

Ska evolved in the late ’50s and early ’60s, while reggae evolved in the late ’60s in Jamaica.

“It kind of reminds me of Sublime and also Maná, the Mexican band, which their music translates the same way with the beat and tempo…It’s like a little bit of rock which I like,” said student Giovanni Escalera.

As Ska became the less-known genre, it took a temporary leap. Reggae flourished with artists such as Marley, Gregory Isaacs and Peter Tosh in the ’70s.

However, it was not until the ’80s that it made a drastic comeback with artists such as The Toyes.

Ska is broken down into four waves.

The action began with The Skatalites’ hit “Guns of Navarone,” written and composed by Marcus Garvey in the early ’60s.

First- wave Ska saw simple instrumentation with stand-up bass, brass, horns, and drum beats with little to no snare drum.

The Skatalites were part of the first-wave ska scene as they were the founder of ska, and later reggae.

Later waves of ska began implementing electric guitars and bass, noticeably, to loud snares, and the retained brass.

First-wave ska bands were most common in the ’50s and ’60s in Jamaica before taking a minor leap in the ’70s.

Marley pioneered reggae with hits such as “One Love,” “I Shot The Sheriff,” and “Is This Love.”

The Toyes were part of the second-wave ska in the ’80s, which inspired the third-wave ska bands, such as Sublime.

Second-wave ska bands were common in the ’80s in Britain, while third-wave ska bands were common in the ’90s in the U.S.

Fourth-wave ska began in 2000, which spread ska and reggae to areas such as Latin America, where it flourished in the Spanish language.

On the other hand, reggae has a continuous evolution.

Reggae began as a slower beat to ska with more modern instrumentation, such as electric guitar and bass, more snares, and keyboards, mostly piano and organ, in the late ’60s with The Wailers band and Gregory Isaacs.

The Wailers eventually became Bob Marley’s core band, known as Bob Marley and The Wailers, which continues to be the most popular and mentioned band when people hear the word “reggae.”

Their hit made a breakthrough in the evolution of reggae as they began to inspire more musicians to start ska bands.

Reggae and ska go beyond Marley and Sublime as both are from different time periods.

Ska has yet to grow and make up for the leap it had in the ’70s, while reggae continues to implement sounds of the 21st century.

Be the first to comment on "Ska and reggae are distinguishable"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.