If you aren’t an avid fan of the genre, you may not be familiar with the rich history and huge variety that comes with reggae music. If you have the chance to dive into it, it’s truly fascinating and really adds to your appreciation for the music. Though, when most people think of reggae music, Bob Marley and the Whalers, Eek-A-Mouse, Steel Pulse and other classic artists come to mind. While these artists are awesome, they’ve also inspired new sounds from reggae artists of the modern world. New-wave reggae music still holds onto that great, chill vibe, bouncy beats and spiritual-centered lyrics that make the genre its own, but with a new twist that younger audiences might appreciate.
In my opinion, these new-wave reggae artists are paving the way for young listeners to get into a genre that seems to be on the back-burner of mainstream music up into the public’s awareness. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all listened to a bit more reggae music? I think so! So, without further ado, here are a few new-wave reggae music artists that you need to start listening to if you haven’t already!
If you listen to reggae regularly, chances are you’ve listened to some Collie Budz. I had obviously heard his more popular songs, like ‘Smokin’ Love,’ a reggae love song with a really fun-upbeat tune that ALWAYS gets stuck in my head, or like ‘Come Around’ which facilitates head bopping like no other. However, I hadn’t heard many of his other lesser-known songs until I saw him live– which was such a fun experience! Side note, you haven’t felt peak vibes at a concert until you’ve been to a reggae concert, believe me. Collie Budz didn’t disappoint in terms of vibes or in terms of getting me hooked on other songs like `Time Flies (feat. Russ)’ and ‘Good Life.’ If pop and rap are your go-to genres and you’re looking to dip your toes into reggae, check out Collie Budz! I’m sure you’ll find something you love.
Rock more your thing? You’d probably vibe to some Expendables. In the grand scheme of Reggae music, the Expendables can be considered relatively new-wave, but they’re probably the most “established” band I’m including on this list… But I couldn’t help but include them because I genuinely love this band. Chances are you’ve heard their hits like ‘Bowl for Two,’ ‘Sacrifice’ or their awesome cover of ‘Ganja Smugglin’.’ However, I’d strongly recommend checking out the rest of their discography. The Expendables include harder drum beats, stronger basslines, and quicker melodies than most reggae music. Because of this, I think a lot of younger audiences and audiences who tend to go for rock would really appreciate songs like ‘Take a Ticket,’ ‘Burning Up,’ and ‘Filthy Dub.’ While these songs came out 2007 and prior, they may not bring that ‘new’ kick as much as in their latest album, collaborating with Ballyhoo! Ballyhoo’s Cali-roots (but actually from Maryland) vibe brings a fresher sound to the table, updating some of both bands’ most popular songs, creating the album, “ExpendaHoo!” If the Expendables continue on a similar path, we can expect some pretty rockin’ new-wave reggae music.
I discovered this artist while at the Arizona Roots Music festival, which was one of the happiest accidents. Not only is HIRIE an awesome singer, her music tows the line of modern and classic reggae so well! The music behind her tracks uses the boppy nature and horned instruments that are characteristic of the genre, but her style of lyricism and melodies she includes harp on what’s popular in more recent music. Songs like “You Won’t Be Alone” and her song “Youniverse” with Arise Roots is such a vibe. If you’re in the mood for something a little more chill, but still upbeat and happy, you should really check out HIRIE.
There are a lot of things that separate our generation of Zillennials from those who came before us. Something that makes Landon McNamara’s music special is that it shares lots of values that people within our generation really care about. Just like old reggae songs were used as forms of artistic activism advocating against war, hate, discrimination, etc. McNamara’s lyrics harp on issues Zillennials care about. This relatability in lyrics sets Landon McNamara’s style apart from that of old reggae music, despite sharing lots of similarities. For example, “Loss for Words” is an emotional track that lots of modern-day listeners can probably relate to. Aside from the relatability in lyrics, McNamara’s music has an overall great, really chill vibe to it. Some of my favorite songs by him also include “Jam with You,” “Stoney Haze” and “Spare Change.”
I grew up with Anuhea, so it feels a little strange including her on a list describing the “new” sounds of reggae music, but trust me, Anuhea is something fresh if you haven’t heard her before. Like any genre, there are TONS of subsets of reggae music, and Anuhea’s subset lies within the Jawaiian category, which describes music with heavy reggae and Hawaiian influences. Though Anuhea still manages to bring something even more unique to the table, her soft, gorgeous voice and her lyricism makes her seem like the Taylor Swift of Jawaiian music to me, to be honest. I love it! If you haven’t heard her yet, give these songs a listen and you’ll understand all this hype I’m building up: “Higher than the Clouds,” “Simple Love Song,” and “Come Over Love.”
Which one of these new reggae artists will become your new favorite? Let us know in the comments!