Jamaica was a slave-operated plantation island for two centuries beginning in around the mid-1600s. The island then became a British colony until Jamaica gained its independence in the 1960s. Within this history of slavery and British colonization, there also existed a history of rebellion and resistance.
The themes and lyrics of reggae music have served as a platform for storytelling that reflected Jamaica’s history of rebellion. Deejays — as the vocalists were known — told stories of cowboys, depression-era mobsters. They made endless references to Spaghetti Westerns, and other Old West outlaw films, and even did covers of country music hits.
On this week’s Global Notes, Worldview production assistant Galilee Abdullah talks about this outlaw narrative in reggae and dancehall music.