Reggae music, though born in Jamaica, is deeply African in ancestry. From the thumping backbeat to the Rastafarian Panafrican-themed lyrics, the roots are clear. Thus, it"s no real surprise that reggae is widely popular in African countries, nor that Africa has produced some of reggae"s greatest musicians. Here, from the well-known to the obscure, are five African reggae CDs that would make an excellent addition to any music lover"s collection.
South Africa"s Lucky Dube is probably the best-known name on this list and was the first major reggae star to emerge from Africa. He was a prolific songwriter and an excellent performer, and you"d do well to pick up any of his CDs, but this excellent 2-disc compilation, released after Dube was killed in a random drive-by shooting near Johannesburg in 2007 and curated by the excellent Tom Schnabel, is a great place to start.
Best-known for his 2010 World Cup Soccer Anthem "African Soccer Fever" (found on this album in its original form, "African Reggae Fever," which features Ladysmith Black Mambazo), Rocky Dawuni is a young Ghanaian roots reggae star with a romantic and powerful lyrical touch and a knack for composing deeply catchy melodies. Never one to shy away from outside influences, Hymns for the Rebel Soul features small but powerful touches from other genres and styles, including a churning Arabic dumbek drum on the track "Jerusalem" and a Finnish folk flute on "Take it Slow (Love Love Love)" -- unexpected but lovely.
Alpha Blondy, from the Ivory Coast, is an artist known as much for his rich rhythms as for his carefully penned lyrics, which often touch on heavy issues of African and African Diaspora politics, as well as Old Testament religious topics, which he writes about from something of a Judeo-Christian Universalist perspective. This album, recorded in 1986 with Bob Marley"s backing band, The Wailers, was his first to really make waves on the international music scene. It is an album that focuses heavily on religion, tying together the