Only just a few years ago in main stream America the only Reggae artists that was recognizable was Bob Marley. That was back in the days when I first came here.
Shabba Ranks changed that in a more ways than one. Traditionally American reggae fans were middle class whites. Reggae didn’t only get in the “main stream white audience”, it was now being played in the black American clubs and parties around the country. The big change was now we can turn on a traditionally R&B radio and hear dance hall reggae. Couple years ago in Chicago GCI Radio (huge in R&B) regularly played a daily dance all session. We were always able to tune into the two hour reggae session on WNUR with Mobay-One while cooking rice and peas and chilling on Sunday, but now there were other outlets for reggae. How, and the rest is history. Now you can her reggae all over.
Since Shabba a bunch of other artists have come along and made it even bigger on the charts with their sizzling reggae rhythms… and the American Girls in the clubs… HMN!!! They might well be Jamaicans with American accents because they certainly have all the right dance moves. In places like Columbia, reggae is part of the main stream music alongside Salsa and other Latin music like Reggaeton. I hope some of our traditional Reggae artists are paying attention.
Reggae made a huge jump into the Latino culture back in the late nineties through the new reggae dancehall style that until then was very popular mainly in the traditional Jamaican reggae communities. The new reggae dancehall style caught on in a big way in Panama and Puerto Rico. The Latino musicians copied the new reggae dancehall style and spiced it up with some Soca and Salsa and made it their own. Reggae had now morphed into a new Musical Genre called Reggaeton. It then migrated throughout Latin, and North America in 2004 as the new “Spanish Reggae”. The music is now a very dominant sound in the Latin communities throughout the world.